You’d never consider eating off of the same dirty plate for every meal, or feeding your kids cereal from a bowl that’s rarely washed – yet most of us do this for our pets without batting an eye.
You might be surprised to find out that our pets’ food and water bowls rank in the top five germiest places in our homes. According to NSF International, a public health and safety organization with a mission to improve human health, pet bowls come in at number four for containing the most germs. The only things germier in your house are your kitchen sponge, kitchen sink and toothbrush holder.
Yet every day, we ask our pets to eat and drink from these germy bowls, and, if they’re anything like mine, they do so willingly!
I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news by adding yet another chore to your busy day, but the truth is that you should be washing your pet’s food and water bowls every day. You can hand wash them with soap and hot water daily, or, if you’re lazy like me, you can just throw them in the dishwasher at the end of the day (provided they’re dishwasher safe). I find that having two sets of bowls per pet makes this a little easier, as there will always be a clean set available at meal time.
Once a week, in addition to your daily washing, you should let the bowls soak in dilute bleach (1:50 solution) for 10 minutes to get rid of the most stubborn germs. Don’t forget to rinse them thoroughly and allow them to dry completely before using them.
If you’re in the market to buy new bowls (or maybe get a second set so you can be lazy like me), choose wisely. There are many, many choices for pet food and water bowls, but my favorite bowls are stainless steel, because they are easy to clean. Ceramic and glass bowls come in a close second, though. Because plastic bowls are easy to scratch, and those scratches can hang onto to food particles and bacteria, I prefer to leave them on the shelf.
Here’s one more tip for cat owners: don’t put your cat’s water bowl next to her food bowl. Because cats are weird and like to keep us guessing, they’ll actually drink more water if the water bowl is placed in a separate location from the food bowl. This is particularly important for cats with urinary issues.
Though I may have just added a line to your daily to do list, I think you’ll agree that it’s a pretty easy chore in proportion to its height on the germiest places in your house list. Now, don’t get me started on your toothbrush holder!