Why Dogs Scoot

While scooting is a very common occurrence for dogs, it is a definite sign of irritation. The source of the discomfort may be something mild that will resolve itself, something a pet owner can assist with, or it may be something that requires urgent veterinary attention.

When a dog places his bum on the floor and drags himself across the room, it’s called scooting. This act usually means that your dog is uncomfortable and is trying to correct a problem in the anal area.  There are a number of reasons why dogs scoot.  Some may require your assistance and others may be an indication of a more serious medical problem that will warrant a trip to the vet.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

If the scooting only happens once, your dog has probably resolved the issue on his own. Should your dog seem to be uncomfortable,  if the behavior continues or if it is accompanied by your dog licking the area, you should investigate the cause of the problem. If you don’t see anything obvious, you should ask a veterinary professional to investigate.

Scooting is generally a dog’s attempt to remove unwanted foreign objects on the fur or to relieve itching or pain.  If your dog is scooting, check for one of the following issues:

NOTE:  If you don’t see any of these on your own and your dog continues to scoot, make and appointment with your vet as soon as possible. The problem may be internal.

Dirt 

Your dog may have poop or other dirt stuck on his fur. Sometimes, if your dog’s poop is a little more runny than usual, traces may be left on the fur around the anus.  When it dries it becomes sticky and difficult to remove.  Your dog may not be able to clean it with normal grooming and will try dragging along the floor or carpet to remove the unwanted mess.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

To remove the dirty you can try washing the area and gently brushing the dirt from the fur. If it is too difficult to remove, a professional groomer will be able to bathe your dog and remove any foreign matter safely.

Matted Fur

When a dog’s fur becomes matted, it pulls and tears at the dogs skin. If your dog’s fur has grown and become matted he may be trying to relieve the discomfort by dragging himself across the floor.  Matting can also be caused by dirt or wet fur that is left to dry on it’s own.  Mild matting can be gently brushed out using a comb or dematting tool.

If the matting is severe a visit to a reputable groomer or the vet will be necessary.

Fur That Has Been Cut Too Short 

If your dog has recently been groomed or matting has had to be cut out,  The fur that is growing back can cause the area to be irritated and itchy.  Just as it does with humans, shaving too close can cause razor burn or cuts. If the grooming was too short, your dog may experience some discomfort. Scooting will act as a form of scratching.

Caution:  If your dog has any cuts or wounds, see a vet immediately as they can become infected.

Injury: 

Golden retreiver sniffing bushes where scrapes and cuts could happen.
Dogs can get scratches or scrapes while playing in bushes or trees, or just from sitting on the ground outside.

Apart from grooming, your pooch can become injured in other ways.  When they sit on the ground or play in the bushes while on a walk, it is possible to get splinters, cuts, or scrapes.  These can become inflamed and infected.  This may cause your dog to attempt to relieve the soreness by rubbing it against the cool or abrasive surface of the floor.

String/Hair/Ribbon Still Attached Inside

How often do you see your dog pooping and it looks like it is attached by a hair?  If the poop is still attached, your dog will try scooting along trying to pull the rest of it out. This can happen with hair, string, ribbon, wool or any other linear item your dog may have swallowed.  This is very uncomfortable for your pup.

If this happens, DO NOT try to pull the piece out.  The string – like item may be stuck somewhere inside your dog’s intestinal tract.  If you pull, you can cause serious internal damage to your dog.  Take your dog to the vet. A professional will do an exam and will be able to tell where the string is located.  Your vet will offer options as to how to safely remove the string.

Worms

Dogs are prone to getting a variety of worms.  These can cause anal itching.  Your dog will attempt to stop the itch by rubbing it on the floor.  

Although worms are fairly common, that doesn’t mean they are harmless. It is important that your dog’s worms are identified and treated by a vet as soon as possible to avoid further complications, illness or, in some cases, death.

Fleas, Ticks, Insect Bites or Bee Stings

If your dog has fleas, they may cause itchiness in any area, including the rear end. The itching can be extremely bothersome and your dog may be attempting to relieve the itch by rubbing it on the floor or carpet.

A bee sting, mosquito, or other insect bites can make for a painful or itchy situation for your dog. When your dog feels the effects of the insect’s sting or bite, she will attempt to ease the unwanted sensation by licking at the area or rubbing herself along the floor. If the bite is in the anal area, scooting is the best way to address the discomfort in that location.

Blocked Anal Glands

There are two sacs around the anus that contain fluid that is released when your dog has a bowel movement.  Occasionally, these sacs, known as Anal Glands, will become blocked and will not release the fluids, causing a pressure build up. This creates a lot of discomfort and your dog will try to release the pressure by scooting.  

Blocked Anal Glands should never be left untreated.  A vet will release the fluid and confirm that there has been no further damage.  A second visit, 4-6 weeks later, may be required to be sure that the anal glands are functioning properly.

For further information about blocked anal glands see:  Anal Gland Expression For Dogs

Summary

While scooting is a very common occurrence for dogs, it is a definite sign of irritation.  The source of the discomfort may be something mild that will resolve itself, something a pet owner can assist with, or it may be something that requires urgent veterinary attention. Because there are a number of reasons why dogs scoot, you should be sure to investigate the cause as soon as it happens so that you can help your doggo in safe and timely manner.

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Gastrointestinal Blockage: Signs, Symptoms and Prevention

If the item that the dog consumes is unable to pass through the dog’s digestive tract, it can cause an obstruction. This can have severe consequences, including emergency surgery and death.

Puppies like to eat everything.  They explore and discover by smelling and “tasting” almost everything they come across.  This is not limited to edible items and can be dangerous.  Unfortunately, there are many adult dogs that continue this trait, even if it’s only on occasion.  If the item that the dog consumes is unable to pass through the dog’s digestive tract, it can cause an obstruction.  This can have severe consequences, including emergency surgery and death.  It’s important to monitor your dog while he plays and to remove all smaller items that can be easily swallowed. It’s always good to be aware of any signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal blockage, as well as how to prevent it from happening to your pet.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

What items Cause Gastrointestinal Blockage?

There are many items that can get stuck in the stomach, intestines and colon. If the object is not able to be dissolved or broken down by the stomach acids, or is too large to get through the intestinal tract, it becomes lodged.  At this point the object cannot move up to be vomited out or down to be passed through and released through the colon.  Although any object your dog swallows can be a danger, some of the most common items found lodged in the intestinal tracts of many dogs are:

– hair ties

– socks

– underwear

– facecloths

– small stuffed toys

– corn cobs

– string, ribbon or rope

– rocks

– sticks

– broken or small chew toys

– rawhide

– bones

What Should you Do If You See Your Dog Swallow Something He Shouldn’t?

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

If you see your dog swallow something that is not dog food, you should get him to a vet immediately. Your vet may be able to help the dog to bring up the foreign object before it travels down to a location that will require surgical removal. 

NOTE:  Never induce vomiting without the advice and guidance of a veterinarian.  If you don’t perform the process properly, it could result in your dog asphyxiating should the item become lodged in the throat on the way out.

Signs and Symptoms of Gastrointestinal blockage:

Sometimes our little friends find things that we don’t see and scoop them up without our even knowing it. When this happens, if we are lucky, whatever they have swallowed will pass naturally. 

One of my family members has two Burnese Mountain dogs. One day, after she had let them out in the yard to do their business, she went out to clean up the mess and found an entire mini skirt mixed in with the “pile”.  It seemed funny at the time, but it could have been a very different, very NOT funny outcome if the skirt had become entangled in the intestines.

So how do we know if something is stuck?  There are a number of physical symptoms that could indicate blockage.

  • Vomiting food, bile or fluids
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stomach appears enlarged or bloated
  • Slow, listless, lethargic behavior
  • Diarrhea or constipation (depending on where the blockage is)
  • Dehydration
  • Stomach pain when touched
  • Whimpering or showing other signs of physical discomfort

If you see any of these signs or other unusual behaviour you should have your dog examined by a veterinarian to rule out potentially deadly blockage.

Why do dogs eat non-food items?

Many dogs, especially puppies, will eat anything within range. This is simply curiousity and exploration.  For older dogs, it is often because they are chewing on something they shouldn’t.  Bones, sticks, rawhide or chew toys that are either too small or not durable enough, among other things.  Generally, anything that can fit in your dog’s throat, has strings or has a tendency to splinter, should not be available to your dog.  It’s just too dangerous.

Some dogs actually crave or seek out certain inedible things to chew on.  This is a condition called Pica. While Pica can be a habitual tendency, it can sometimes be brought on by emotional issues, a change in diet or new stresses, including new pet, new baby or owners being stressed.  . 

Your dog may have never had this issue before, but can evolve at any time.

How Can you prevent your dog from eating non-food items?

One of the best ways to prevent your dog from ingesting dangerous items is to remove them from the dog’s reach.  This may not be as easy as it sounds, depending in your doggo’s chewing preferences.

Supervise your dog when he is playing with his toys to be sure he isn’t being too aggressive.  This will prevent breaking the toy and swallowing the broken pieces.

Hair ties, socks, string, bones, dangerous chew toys and rawhide can be removed easily. If you have young children, you should make sure that their toys are out of reach.  A Barbie shoe or toy blocks can cause serious harm to your dog.

Find ways to keep your dog entertained.  Providing him with toys that keep him busy will keep your dog distracted.  He will not be as interested in chewing on the dangerous items.

Provide durable toys to limit breakage that leads to swallowing pieces. Supervise your dog when he is playing with his toys to be sure he isn’t being too aggressive.  This will prevent breaking the toy and swallowing the broken pieces.

Make toy inspection part of your daily routine.  Ensure that all toys are in good shape and remove any that are damaged or broken.

But what if your dog chews on wires?                          

Wires are all over your house.  They can’t be taken away but they can be hidden and kept out of reach. Some ways to achieve this are:

  • Make sure all wires are tucked in behind furniture where possible.
  • If your wires are exposed, you should try purchasing a durable protective cover to wrap the wires in.  This will make them less inviting as well as more difficult to chew through.
  • Put away your electronic chargers after use.  Where possible, charge these devices on an out-of-reach table or counter.
  • Purchase a deterrent spray. Remember that this is a deterrent, not a fool proof plan.  See how it works for your pet before leaving the dogs unsupervised. CAUTION: BE SURE THAT THE SPRAY YOU CHOOSE IS SAFE FOR ALL OF THE PETS ON YOUR HOME, NOT JUST YOUR DOG!

Summary

When you have a dog in the house, you never know what might be chewed or swallowed.  The best way to avoid dangerous ingestion of non food items is prevention. 

Be aware of any unusual behavior.  Monitor for the signs listed above if you think your dog may have swallowed something.  Most importantly, if you suspect that your dog may have consumed anything other than dog-safe food, get him to a vet as soon as possible.

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Are Acorns Toxic for Dogs?

If your dog consumes acorns or oak leaves, you may see varying signs of digestive upset. Here are some signs to look for:

I recently read a post on Facebook that said a puppy had been rushed to the vet after ingesting an acorn.  My first reaction was that the dog must have choked on it, but it turns out that the acorn had poisoned the puppy.  I had never heard anything like this so I went on a search to find out if acorns are toxic for dogs.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

 This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

I was surprised to learn that Oak Trees are dangerous to dogs as well as other animals. The leaves and acorns contain a chemical called Quercitannic acid which is a form of tannic acid.  Generally, the amount of leaves or acorns ingested in relation to the size of the dog, determines the amount of damage the toxins will do.

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What happens if my dog eats Acorns or Oak Leaves?

If your dog consumes acorns or oak leaves, you may see varying signs of digestive upset. Here are some signs to look for:

Keeping your dog on a leash in unfamiliar areas will help you to control where and what your dog investigates.  You will see the oak trees or their droppings and you will be able to guide your dog away from any danger.
Keeping your dog on a leash in unfamiliar areas will help you to control where and what your dog investigates.  You will see the oak trees or their droppings and you will be able to guide your dog away from any danger.

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Weakness/Fatigue

Stomach Pain

Gagging

Unexplained drooling

NOTE: SEVERE POISONING COULD RESULT IN KIDNEY DAMAGE, LIVER DAMAGE AND POSSIBLY DEATH

These symptoms will usually occur within a few hours of consumption.  Generally, a larger dog would have to consume a lot more than a small breed or puppy to develop severe symptoms. This is not to say that a large dog won’t develop severe symptoms.  Should a large dog have a weaker digestive system, or an underlying medical condition, the reaction may be more severe than expected. It is important to monitor your dog’s symptoms closely. Should you see any new or worsening symptoms, you should relay this information to your vet immediately.

Can acorns hurt large dogs as well as small dogs?

A Great Dane or a Yorkie that consumes only one acorn, can develop some pretty significant medical issues.  Even of the toxicity is very mild, your dog should be examined by a veterinarian. There are other concerns when it comes to ingesting acorns, beyond the toxicity. 

Choking

If a dog swallows an acorn, it can be a choking hazard.  Should the item become lodged in the throat in can obstruct the airway. If he cannot cough it up, or is not breathing at all you will have to perform the Heimlich Maneuver to remove it.  I have attached a link to Texas A&M University of Veterinary Medicine which describes how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a dog in various positions.  It is important to become familiar with these processes should you ever need to use them.

Texas A&M University of Veterinary Medicine: Heimlich Maneuver

Blockage in the Intestinal Tract

An acorn does not break down easily. Similar to a corn cob or a small toy, the acorn can lodge itself in the intestinal tract. Once this happens, your dog will not be able to properly digest food.  Sometimes it can take months for symptoms of blockage to develop.  Once an object is lodged in the intestinal tract, surgery may be required to remove it. 

How can I keep my dog from eating acorns?

The best form of prevention is to avoid contact with Oak trees while on walks or in your yard.  If you have an Oak tree on your property, it may be a good idea to fence off the area around the tree where leaves or acorns may fall.

Another option would be to put your dog on a lead in the yard that keeps him out of reach of the tree.

The best idea would be to stay in the yard with your dog and observe his activities.  While its good to let your dog sniff, you must make sure you can see everything he is sniffing and ensure he does not pick up any foreign objects.

Training your dog to “Drop it” and “Stop/Stay” will help if you are suddenly in a position where you are around an oak tree.  If you are hiking, you may not know what trees are in the area.  Teach your dog to respond to the stop command before he finds himself in a dangerous area or to drop anything that he has scooped off of the ground will help to avoid swallowing dangerous items.

Keeping your dog on a leash in unfamiliar areas will help you to control where and what your dog investigates. You will see the oak trees or their droppings and you will be able to guide your dog away from any danger.

If you know that your dog has eaten any oak tree products, you should get him to the vet immediately. The veterinarian will advise you of the best course of action. 

Sources:

https://www.banfield.com/pet-healthcare/additional-resources/ask-a-vet/is-it-harmful-for-my-dog-to#:~:text=Is%20it%20harmful%20for%20my%20dog%20to%20eat%20acorns%20that,internal%20damage%2C%20and%20kidney%20disease

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3276711/Acorns-deadly-dogs-vets-warned-Harmless-looking-nuts-make-pets-seriously-ill-kill.html

https://www.vets-now.com/pet-care-advice/acorns-and-dogs/

https://inexpensivetreecare.com/blog/trees-may-toxic-pets/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3276711/Acorns-deadly-dogs-vets-warned-Harmless-looking-nuts-make-pets-seriously-ill-kill.html

https://www.petmd.com/dog/emergency/common-emergencies/e_dg_swallowed_objects

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Using Music to Calm an Anxious Dog

Using music to calm an anxious dog has proven to be as as effective as it is for humans. It reduces blood pressure and stress.

Many dogs suffer from anxiety.  Some breeds are more prone to the condition, but many have developed high levels of anxiety or separation anxiety through circumstances in their living conditions. Many rescues have experienced abuse by a previous owner. Others have become fearful of noises or sudden movements through their experiences while living on the street.  Using music to calm an anxious dog has proven to be very effective. 

Using music to calm an anxious dog has proven to be as as effective as it is for humans. It reduces blood pressure and stress.

When I adopted my rescue dog, Zorro, he had spent his very young life in and abusive situation.  When he was only a few months old, he was rescued and sent to stay with a foster mom until a sponsor was found to bring him to Canada. The foster mom spent three months caring for Zorro.  She was an excellent source of information when he was transitioning to his new life in my home. She explained that he did not do well in the crate, so she would use spa music to help him to calm down when she had to leave him.  This information has come in very handy a number of times since we brought him home two years ago.

Be Aware of what Causes Your Dog’s Anxiety

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Although he was a very happy guy, there were some definite signs of anxiety in a number of situations.  Separation anxiety was one of the most difficult challenges for him.  The three people in my home worked on a variety of schedules and, because of this, Zorro was rarely alone for more than an hour or two.

When we would leave him, he would bark and cry. We purchased a Furbo Dog Camera so that we could see what was upsetting him, but there was nothing unusual.  He would face the door and howl or bark, pace the floor and start again.  The Furbo notified us when he was barking.  This allowed us to speak to him from wherever we were.  This helped him a lot, but we wanted to prevent the anxiety as opposed to calming it.  We began leaving the radio on for him and saw a big change in his stress levels.

Music Covers Environmental Noise

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

Zorro, like many other dogs, struggles with sounds from lawn mowers, snow blowers, construction tools and, of course, fireworks. We always leave the radio or TV on for him so he doesn’t feel alone. The “white noise” effect reduces his exposure to outside activity. The music or conversation from the television provide a familiar and soothing distraction.

Music is Not Just a Distraction for Dogs

It has been proven that music reduces stress in humans, and it has the same effect for dogs.  The flow of the music helps to reduce heart rate and blood pressure.  The physical response on the body encourages both mental and physical relaxation.  Your dog’s body will relax, taking down or eliminating the levels of anxiety. 

What Kind of Music is Best to Calm Your Dog

Just like people, your dog may respond to one type of music more than another.  It is a personal preference.  In most cases, classical music is recommended.  The light, flowing consistency of classical music seems to have a more soothing effect than something with a rapid or loud beat.  

We witnessed an immediate reaction to spa music with Zorro. We were on a road trip to the east coast for our family vacation.  Zorro loves the car and has travelled this road before, but something out of the ordinary happened on this trip.  We had been driving, and of course taking brakes, for about 9 hours, when Zorro became very agitated.

We had been listening to music along the way, so we tried turning it off for a few minutes. Our thought was that we were disturbing his sleep.  As it was 3:00 am we thought we may have been disrupting his sleep routine.  He was still unhappy.  We stopped and took him for a walk to stretch his legs and pee, and we offered some food and water.  He seemed fine after about 20 minutes, so we got back into the car.  He immediately began whining and turning around in his spot.

Remembering that his foster mom would use spa music to calm him, my daughter searched her song lists, found some spa music and we put it on for him.  It was like magic.  He stopped whining, turned around three times in his seat, curled up and went to sleep.  It was actually an incredible thing to watch.

Since then, whenever Zorro shows any sign of stress, we pull out the spa playlist or turn on the spa music channel on the TV. This either calms him immediately or significantly reduces his stress levels.

A Musician has Written a Song to Calm Anxious Dogs

A musician by the name of Garrett Charles Nash (Gnash) who rescued a dog with significant anxiety issues, researched the music theory to help his dog.  He found that certain rhythms helped dogs to settle down.  He has written a song called A Song for Daisy to help his dog that has been used in shelters to soothe dogs that suffer with anxiety issues. The song is 15 minutes long and incorporates a simple melody with a lot of repetition.

His work, along with my own experiences with my rescue dog, has proven that music therapy can significantly reduce a dog’s stress and anxiety levels.

Should your dog have difficulty with separation anxiety, noise reactivity or maybe she is always stressed, music therapy may be a good place to start. 

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Choosing the Best Dog Bowls for Your Dog’s Health

What you serve your dog’s food in can be a health hazard in a number of ways if you aren’t aware of the dangers. Although it seems basic, choosing the best dog bowls for your dog’s health is something that should be thought through and investigated thoroughly. Everything from the size, height and materials used to produce the bowl should be considered.

Who would have thought that choosing a dog bowl would be such an important event?  It is.  What you serve your dog’s food in can be a health hazard in a number of ways if you aren’t aware of the dangers. Although it seems basic, choosing the best dog bowls for your dog’s health is something that should be thought through and investigated thoroughly. Everything from the size, height and materials used to produce the bowl should be considered.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

What size of dog bowl is best?

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Dogs come in different sizes, so their bowls should too.  Your dog should be able to comfortably reach to the bottom of the bowl.  When scooping up the last few bites the rim should not be pressing on her neck.  The small bones in a dog’s neck are extremely fragile and this pressure can cause damage. 

Is a raised bowl better than on the floor?

There are mixed reviews as the benefits of raised bowls.  Some smaller studies have indicated that raised bowls will prevent bloat.  This is a stomach issue that causes extreme pain and potentially even death.  There are some larger dog breeds that are more prone to bloat, but it can happen to all sizes and breeds.  Initially it was thought that the raised bowls would help ease the possibility of bloat, but it has since been found that it may actually increase the risk.  The only time raised bowls might be recommended would be when a dog has neck or spine issues that make it painful to bend the head downward.  If your dog has spinal issues, it is best to discuss your options with your vet.  A professional will be able to guide you to provide the most suitable accommodations to ease your dog’s discomfort.

What material should a dog bowl be made of?

Dog bowls can be made from a variety of materials. Each of those materials can have high and low- quality levels.  It is important to be sure that, regardless of the material you choose, you are sure that the bowl is of a quality that is safe to serve food on.  If it’s not safe for a human to eat from, it is not safe for your doggo.  You will often see labels that say, “for pet use only”, or “not for use by humans”.  This indicates that the materials used are dangerous.  They may contain high levels of lead or other chemicals that you would not want your dog to consume while eating or drinking. 

Here are the 3 most common types of dog bowls in order of safety:

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel dog bowls are the safest choice for your pup.  It must be made of high-quality stainless steel.  It must not say for pet use only, and it must be dishwasher safe.  High quality stainless steel, when washed properly, will not scratch easily.  A scratch-free surface, combined with diligent washing practices, prevents any bacteria from building up in the bowl.  This keeps your dog’s food free from contamination that can cause him to become ill.

Ceramic or Glass Bowls for Dog Food

Golden Retriever Puppy with Paw in Water Dish
Many dogs like to play in their water bowls.  They will use their paws to swish around in the water. Their claws scrape against the sides and bottom of the bowls causing scratches and chips where bacteria can grow.

Choosing a ceramic or glass bowl for your dog’s food and water is still a strong choice.  The caution with these types of bowls is, again, the quality of the materials used. Be sure it can be washed in the dishwasher so that it can disinfected thoroughly,  Many low-quality bowls can contain chemicals and lead.  This can cause serious repercussions for your pet.  If you choose ceramic, be sure that the glaze used to create that shiny finish does not contain lead.  Also, if the bowls become chipped or cracked, these crevices will provide a place for bacteria to build up and create a contaminated area.  By washing your dog’s bowls frequently and safely, you can prevent build-up. 

Another benefit of daily washing is that you have the opportunity to inspect the surface of the bowls. If there are any chips or cracks – even really small ones – you should throw it away.  It’s just not worth the risk to keep it and it will never be cleaned properly once the glazed seal has been damaged.

Plastic Bowls for Dog Food

Many people use plastic bowls for their dog’s food.  This is ok, but they should be washed carefully and replaced more frequently.  Once again, you should always choose a standard of plastic that is safe for human use and it should be dishwasher safe (top shelf).  The biggest concern with plastic is how easily it can be scratched, allowing bacteria to contaminate the food and water you set out for your pup.  There are some plastics that are more porous than others.  Be sure that you choose a bowl with a smooth surface and that you clean and monitor the bowls daily for damage. 

How do dog bowls get damaged?

You may think that your dog bowls are safe because you are only putting soft food and water in them, you are disinfecting regularly and you are washing with a gentle sponge.  These things will definitely help to prevent damage, but there are some sneaky little things that can cause scratches and nicks.

  • Some dog’s like to carry their bowl.  By holding the bowl with their teeth they can scratch any surface, or even leave tooth prints in some softer materials.
  • There are dogs who will use their front teeth to reach the last few kibbles or to grab the last bit of soft food that is sticking to the bottom or side of the bowl.  This can cause tiny scratches that are almost undetectable. 
  • Sometimes a dog’s tags will rub up against the sides of the bowl (inside and out) while he is eating. This causes small scratches and scuffs.
  • Many dogs like to play in their water bowls.  They will use their paws to swish around in the water. Their claws scrape against the sides and bottom of the bowls.
  • There are even dogs who just like to chew on the sides of the bowl.  Puppies are known to chew on anything to easy the discomfort of teething. A water bowl is cool and firm, providing relief.

Summary

Choosing the best dog bowls for your dog’s health is an important dog parenting decision. Stainless steel is the safest option for your pup’s food and water. Regardless of the type of bowl you choose, it is vital to inspect, clean and disinfect your dog’s bowls as a part of your daily and weekly routine. 

See:  Dirty Food Bowls Can Make Your Dog Sick to learn how to properly care for your dog’s bowls.

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Dirty Food Bowls Can Make Your Dog Sick

Dirty dog bowls, damaged dog bowls and dog bowls made of certain materials can cause a variety of illnesses for your dog.

Do you have a regular dog bowl cleaning routine?  Many people don’t.  It is not uncommon for pet parents to just refill the bowls daily and occasionally, when it becomes visible, rinse them out to get the residue off.  Let’s face it, dogs eat just about anything (and I mean anything) so a dog bowl can’t  harm them, right?  Wrong!  Dirty food bowls can make your dog very sick.  Actually, dirty dog bowls, damaged dog bowls and dog bowls made of certain materials can cause a variety of illnesses for your doggo. Here is what I have learned about the best dog bowls, the best cleaning methods for you dog bowls and how to wash your dog bowls safely.

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Selecting the Right Dog Bowl

It’s very important that you choose a safe bowl for your dog.  The best option would be stainless steel that is dishwasher safe. It is also best to have at least two sets of bowls so that when one is being cleaned, the other is available to use. 

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

How Can Dirty Food Bowls Make Your Dog Sick?

Saliva remains in the bowl after a dog eats.  This, along with the leftover bits of food can act like a Petri dish where germs can grow freely.
Dirty food bowls can make your dog sick when food a remain in the bowl. Saliva remains in the bowl after a dog eats. This, along with the leftover bits of food can act like a petri dish where germs can grow freely.

Your dog actually uses his or her tongue to scoop up the food or water from the bowl.  Saliva remains in the bowl along with the leftover bits of food. This can act like a little petri dish where germs can grow freely.  Gross right? Is it safe to use detergents? How do I clean my pet’s bowls safely?

Many dog parents are afraid to use soaps or detergents in their dog bowls. They are afraid that they will leave a residue that could be consumed by their pet.  Fortunately, this is no more likely to happen to your pet than it would for yourself or your family members after doing the dinner dishes.

Some feel that rinsing the dishes under hot water is the best method.  Unfortunately, a simple rinse under hot water leaves dirt and food particles on your dog’s dishes where bacteria can grow.  This bacterium will be ingested by your dog and can cause some significant health issues.  Because of this, it is crucial that all dog dishes be washed regularly and sanitized a minimum of once weekly.  This is especially imperative if your dog is on a raw food diet. Any raw meat should be removed from the bowl and disinfected after each use. Meat that reaches room temperature is a breeding ground for a number of serious bacteria, including Streptococcus, Listeria and even Salmonella.

How to Safely Wash Your Dog’s Bowls

A study was done in 2011 by NSF International listing the “germiest places in a home”.  Number one on the list was the kitchen sponge.  Number 4 was pet bowls.  This means that the tool most people use to clean the 4th dirtiest item in the home is the 1st most dirty item.  Seems kind of counter intuitive now, doesn’t it? So, what do we do about it? 

Option 1:  Daily

Use your dishwasher when possible.  Any food dish that your dog eats from, should be dishwasher safe.  The dishwasher will sanitize the bowls and provide a safe place to feed your doggo.  I personally prefer to rinse the bowls even after they go through the rinse cycle on the dishwasher in case any dish washing liquid residue is left behind. 

Option 2: Daily

If you don’t have a dishwasher, or prefer not to use it for your pet bowls, you can use a basin of clean, hot, soapy water.  Wash the bowls with a clean, non abrasive, spongeIf you are not sure how clean the sponge is, wet it and place it in the microwave for 2 minutes.  This will help to disinfect the sponge, which will in turn keep the sponge from contaminating your dog bowls. 

Wash the bowls thoroughly, making sure to pay close attention to any crevices. Rinse the bowls in hot water to remove the suds, just as you would your household dishes.  Air dry.

Option 1:  Weekly

Even though you are washing your bowls daily, it is recommended that they are given a good disinfecting once a week.  Some suggest that you briefly (one minute maximum) soak the bowls in a bleach and water mixture (always check labels for the safest water to bleach ratio) and rinse in cold water.  It is not recommended that you do this with plastic bowls as bleach can get into the plastic and will not rinse thoroughly.  I personally do not use bleach on my pet’s bowls. I am not comfortable using chemicals of that strength near my dog’s food. Although I know it’s been rinsed well, I prefer a more natural alternative.

Option 2:  Weekly

If you prefer not to use bleach, the alternative recommendation would be to use a vinegar and water mixture, followed by a thorough rinse in warm water. The recommended ratio is 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar.

How can Water Affect My Dog Bowls?

Depending on where you live, your plumbing and water filtration system, the effect you water has on the dog bowls is something to be considered.  Calcium build up creates a crusty rim on the bowl that doesn’t come off very easily.  Using an abrasive sponge is not a good idea as it can scratch the bowl and leave it vulnerable to bacteria, so it is best to use the previously mentioned vinegar/water mixture.  Soaking in this solution will help break down the residue, leaving the bowl smooth and shiny.

Wrapping it all up!

  • Dirty food bowls make your dog sick because of food residue and saliva.
  • Using a stainless steel, dishwasher safe food bowl is the best option.
  • Sterilizing in the dishwasher is the best cleaning method.
  • If washing by hand, make sure the sponge/cloth is new or sterilized before use.
  • Rinse with a vinegar/water solution and rinse with warm water weekly to thoroughly disinfect the bowls.
  • Have multiple bowls so that you can swap them out when the others are being cleaned.
  • Use the vinegar/water solution to remove calcium build up and hard water stains from your dog’s bowl.
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