My two cats, Tiny and Alfredo, and myself are on a pretty set schedule: they like for me to fill their food bowls twice a day, they prefer their water to be changed out almost daily, and, of course, they want their litter box scooped out as often as humanly possible. One detail we are a little in the dark about, however, is how often their food and water dishes should be cleaned. Is it once a day? Every other day? Twice a week? To help demystify this common question, POPSUGAR spoke to two vets to learn more.
According to Maureen Murithi, DVM, vet at Spirit Dog Training, food bowls should be washed with soap and water preferably after every meal. "Don't skip on cleaning them," Dr. Murithi advised, "Invest in several bowls so you can keep rotating them, [if you need]." It is also important to note that pets who are on a raw diet may need extra attention given to their food bowls. "Raw food makes a good environment for the growth of dangerous bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella," said Dr. Murithi. "Lack of proper cleaning can lead to infections both to the dog and the pet parent." On the other hand, water bowls should be cleaned with warm water and soap at least once a day.
Lesa Staubus, DVM, rescue veterinarian for American Humane, said that it is very important that pet parents take extra care of their animal's food and water bowls as not doing so can have repercussions. "Cats in particular are rather finicky about their water bowls," said Dr. Staubus. "So dirty or stale water can lead to reduced water intake and urinary tract infections." Dr. Staubus pointed out that cats prefer shallow dishes with high water levels, as it is more comfortable for their whiskers. They also love fresh running water from pet fountains, which can actually help encourage more water intake. "These fountains are very nice, and dogs like them too, but they also should be cleaned regularly and the water kept fresh," added Dr. Staubus.
When it comes to choosing the right water bowls, pet owners should try and stay away from plastic bowls, if possible. "Plastic bowls can be problematic as some cats have sensitivity to them that can lead to chin acne," said Dr. Staubus. Stainless steel bowls work well for dogs, though, since they are less likely to chew on them, and bowls made of non-porous materials, such as metal, glass, or ceramic are a great choice for both cats and dogs as they are the most hygienic. Now get washing!