Pet Bowls Buying Guide Dogs & Cats

How to select the best food and water bowls for your pets

A bowl is just a bowl, right? Sadly, that’s not the case. Back in 2012, Petco issued a recall for stainless steel pet food bowls that were radioactive. Independent analysis from has identified the heavy metal lead in other pet food bowls. Your pet’s bowl is a critical product, since he or she will eat and drink out if it multiple times a day for his or her entire life. Clearly, buying the wrong bowl could put the health of your pet at risk, but what makes for the best dog food bowl?


Most pet food bowls are made from plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel.


Experts agree that plastic is the worst option you could select. Some types of plastic contain chemicals that appear to mimic hormones, and if ingested, could disrupt an animals hormonal balance, leading to a number of possible negative health effects. Apart from that, plastic readily accumulates deep scratches that harbor bacteria and can become nearly impossible to clean. Many pets that eat from plastic bowls develop chin acne and irritation around the muzzle. When this happens, the first thing Vets recommend is “get rid of your plastic bowls!” Save yourself the trouble and risk by avoiding it completely.


Ceramic is generally better than plastic, but has it’s own issues. Ceramic is relatively heavy compared to other materials, which can be an issue for some. It’s also far less durable. One drop or bang can chip, crack, or shatter your ceramic bowl, making it no longer safe for use. The glazes used to coat ceramic have historically contained lead, a very toxic and dangerous heavy metal. Sadly, lead hasn’t been eliminated from all ceramic glazes. Still, ceramic can be a reasonable option for some. If you’re heart is set on a ceramic dog bowl, make sure it’s clearly labeled as having been made with a lead-free glaze. Also, keep in mind that ceramic can only be kept clean if the coating remains intact. If you notice a chip or crack in the coating, it’s time to replace that bowl!


Just about everyone agrees that stainless steel is the best overall option for pet food bowls. It’s very durable (won’t crack or break if dropped), relatively light and easy to carry, and easy to clean. What many folks don’t realize is that stainless steel is a very general term, much like steak is a general term, and it behooves you to know if you’re getting filet mignon or flank steak. Here’s what to look for.


There are countless grades of stainless steel and each type has it’s own pro’s and con’s – places it performs well and places where it shouldn’t be used. The most common type of stainless steel used in food-related applications is called type 304 stainless steel (also referred to as 18/8 stainless steel). Some manufacturers look to reduce their costs by using lesser grades of stainless steel. These cheaper products may be great for your pocketbook over the short term, but won’t likely be great for you or your pet over the long term. Many manufacturer’s don’t readily disclose the grade of stainless steel they use. This is a clear sign that they’re probably using an inferior grade. Never buy a stainless steel product without knowing the grade of stainless steel it’s made from!


Avoid any stainless steel bowls that aren’t dishwasher safe or that say something like “for pet use only”. These are dead giveaways that inferior materials are being used. There’s no good reason why a pet bowl wouldn’t also be safe for use by a human.


Nobody adds lead to stainless steel on purpose. Nobody adds radioactive metal to stainless steel on purpose. Yet, examples of these contaminates have already surfaced on store shelves. These aren’t theoretical risks anymore. The best dog food bowls come from companies that care enough about the health of your pet to actually test for possible contaminants.
Putting it all together

To summarize, the best dog food bowls are made from stainless steel, not plastic or ceramic. But not all stainless steel bowls are created equal. It’s important to know the exact grade of stainless steel and whether sufficient testing is in place to ensure the stainless steel isn’t accidentally contaminated with harmful materials.

At Basis Pet, we’re confident that our bowls are the best bowls on the market. We make our bowls in the U.S. from type 304 (18/8) U.S. sourced stainless steel. We also have third party testing in place to further ensure we’re putting out a safe product. Our bowls are safe for humans and pets and dishwashers. You can check out our bowls here, if you’d like! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to us on our contact page.