Ceramic vs. Stainless Steel Pet Food Bowls

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Does the material of your pet food bowl really make a difference? You'd be surprised! Choosing the right dish should be a simple task, but there are still some important points to consider even if you've narrowed the field to only stainless steel or ceramic.

The Good

Stainless steel is a no-nonsense choice. These dishes are virtually unbreakable and are easy to clean, and the most basic stainless steel dishes are typically very affordable. Indulgent owners can also find stainless steel dishes that incorporate drinking fountains, thermal insulation and elevated platforms into their design. They are also resistant to bacterial buildup (unlike plastic bowls) and can stand up to very high temperatures.


However, if aesthetics are important to you, it might be hard to resist the visual beauty of ceramic bowls. Ceramic provides a large array of colors, shapes, sizes, and patterns to match any type of home decor. Creative types can even paint their own picture-perfect bowls for their pets. They are also resistant to bacteria, as long as they're properly glazed.

The Bad

You need to put the skids on lightweight stainless steel bowls. Unless you buy a design with a non-skid rubber bottom, you can expect messy meals as your four-legged friend pushes (and chases!) his food bowl around the room. Also, some mischievous mutts have been known to hide their food bowl if it is light enough for them to carry off.


Ceramic bowls, on the other hand, crack under pressure. They do not stand up well to extreme temperatures and seldom bounce back from a fall. Even a small chip in a bowl can leave a very sharp edge, so it should no longer be used to feed your pet in order to prevent injury.

The Ugly (i.e. Safety Concerns)

Petco recalled several models of stainless steel dog bowls in August 2012. Apparently, some overseas manufacturers use recycled scrap metal containing unacceptable amounts of radiation. Officials reported that the amount of radiation detected posed no significant health risk but the recall was a precautionary measure.


The use of lead in some ceramic glazes can also cause health concerns for both pets and people. The only way to be sure that ceramic dishes do not contain lead glaze is to purchase items that are labeled "food safe." If you choose to paint a personalized bowl for your best friend, be sure to use lead-free glazes or paint only the outside of the bowl.


Stainless steel and ceramic are both good choices for use as dog dishes. Be an informed consumer and only purchase items that are clearly labeled "food-safe" to avoid exposing your pet to environmental hazards. A far greater health threat is posed by poor hygiene. Wash your pet food bowls daily, and wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling dog food or pet dishes.


By Jenny Newberry


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About the Author
Jenny Newberry, a former teacher with 25 years of experience, is a professional writer and photographer and holds a B.S. and a M.Ed. in elementary and special education from the University of South Alabama. She is also a history buff, praise and worship pianist, pet enthusiast, avid crafter and hobby gardener.