It’s best to clean pet’s food and water bowls day by day [Ask the Vet] – Reading Eagle


Q: A houseguest watched me refill my dog’s food and water bowls without washing them, my usual procedure unless there’s obvious grime on them. She identified the slime covering the within the water bowl and told me it’s dangerous since the slime harbors bacteria that may cause illness. Is she right? Should I do as she advises and scrub each bowls day by day?

A: Yes and yes.

A recent study found that your practice, which increases the chance of illness for each you and your dog, is common.

Researchers surveyed 417 dog owners and tested 68 of their pets’ food bowls for bacteria. Two findings surprised me. First, bacterial counts from metal and ceramic bowls were as high as those from plastic bowls. Also, food bowl bacterial counts were as high from families with children and immunocompromised members as from healthy families, indicating that high-risk families are usually not taking essential precautions.

Bacterial counts were high because few study participants followed the Food and Drug Administration’s pet food handling guidelines, published at

The slime in your dog’s water bowl also poses an issue. This “biofilm” consists of bacteria embedded inside a slime produced by the microbes themselves. Biofilms adhere to living and nonliving surfaces.

When a biofilm forms on teeth, it’s called plaque. A biofilm that adheres to the within surface of the bladder may cause persistent urinary tract infections. When an infection involves a catheter or orthopedic implant, it’s often attributable to a biofilm.

Biofilms shield bacteria from the environment, including the animal’s immune system and antibiotics. As a biofilm grows throughout the body, some bacteria break off and establish latest infections — and latest biofilms — elsewhere.

Whether your dog’s water bowl slime is harmful relies on what sorts of bacteria are embedded within the biofilm. Because you don’t know what they’re, scrub all water bowls with hot, soapy water day by day. Do the identical together with your food bowls and kibble measuring cup after each use, or clean them within the dishwasher as I do.

Finally, at all times wash your hands before and after feeding your dog.

Q: Once I buy a latest bag of kibble for my cats, should I leave it within the bag, or may I empty it right into a large, covered food container?

A: I do each. I leave the kibble in the unique bag and set the bag right into a food container with a sturdy base and a secure lid. I store all pet food within the pantry with the door closed.

I prefer leaving the food within the bag for a couple of reasons. First, the container stays cleaner. I still wash and dry it between bags of food, but the method is less complicated.

Pet food bags are designed to maintain kibble fresh, so removing food from the bag and storing it elsewhere may reduce its shelf life. Even food in the unique bag ought to be kept in a cool, dry location to attenuate spoilage and forestall the fats from becoming rancid.

It’s also necessary to maintain pet food in the unique bag in case of a recall, for the reason that bag displays the food’s name, manufacturer, lot number and expiration date.

Lee Pickett, VMD, practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at