One of the first things you have to get for your dog is a feeder or bowl. While any regular bowl will technically do, most dog owners like to enhance their dog’s dining experience with bowls attached to automatic dispensers, elevated stands, or made of high-quality materials.
Not sure which type of dog feeder is perfect for your picky eater? We’ll help you find the best bowl for your dog in no time.
Dog Feeders and Bowls – All Types
Dog feeders come in a wide range of sizes, types, and materials! There’s a great feeder for every pup – you just have to know what to look for and how to measure each type's pros and cons.
You can’t go wrong with the classics: regular dog food bowls are placed flat on the ground and are easy for most pups to access. Plus, regular bowls are usually pretty inexpensive and, depending on materials, may be difficult to break (a big bonus if your dog is rambunctious or energetic, particularly as a puppy).
However, you have to keep materials in mind, as certain materials (like plastic) can easily be chewed on or scratched up by your dog.
Still, regular bowls are favored by most people due to their low maintenance. You can just hand wash them or throw them in the dishwasher, depending on their materials.
Keep in mind that regular bowls may not be the feeder of choice if your dog is older and needs a little help bending down to reach their food. In that case, an elevated bowl might be a better choice.
- Very inexpensive in most cases
- Can be quite durable depending on the material
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Tons of variety in terms of colors, names, and more
- Can also be made quite cheap, and therefore won’t last for long
- May not work for older dogs with spinal issues
Bowl Materials and Types
We touched on the materials used for regular dog bowls so much above that we figured it was important to mention the common materials used for these feeders.
Plastic feeders are common and cheap. They come in tons of different colors plus a variety of shapes and sizes. But we don’t usually recommend plastic bowls for many dogs as they can chew or gnaw on their sides over time, which leaves rivets and scratches in which bacteria can grow.
Ceramic dog bowls (also called stoneware bowls) are stylish and a little tougher than many plastic bowls. Many of the best ceramic bowls can be washed in the dishwasher, but all of them can be cleaned that easily. Just be careful not to drop stoneware bowls as they may break more readily than you think. Chips and cracks can appear and may be unsafe for your dog’s tongue if they lick the bowl after every meal.
Stainless steel dog bowls are the cream of the crop. These are super durable and are usually dishwasher safe. Furthermore, stainless steel bowls are relatively inexpensive, even with their long-term reliability. You can even get stainless steel dog bowls with certain colored exteriors or styles.
Just take Wild One’s Bowl: a simple but sturdy bowl made with food-grade stainless steel. This classic bowl can be customized with up to 26 characters and ten emojis. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe and comes with a nonslip silicone-based to prevent your pet from pushing it around while they’re gobbling up their food! It’s a particularly lovely choice for hungry pups as it has a capacity of four cups.
Want to get a bowl for food and water each, or two bowls for two pups at the same time? We also provide a Bowl Kit that delivers two quality bowls and significant savings.
Elevated bowls are exactly what they sound like; they can be made of plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel (although stainless steel is the most common), and they are set into a wooden, plastic, or metal base stand. These types of bowls are excellent for older dogs that may have difficulty bending down to reach their food or giant dog breeds that quickly grow to massive sizes once they’re past the puppy stage!
There’s some evidence that elevated feedings are healthier for all dogs, however, in that they can prevent certain gastrointestinal problems. Stands are also great for securing food, as dogs can’t push the bowls around very easily or tip them over.
The only downside is that you’ll need to put aside more space for the elevated food bowl stand. Additionally, elevated bowls are a little more expensive than flat bowls. But in our opinion, these are usually worth the price if your dog needs a little assistance reaching their food come each mealtime.
- Provides a stable and healthy means for your pup to reach their food
- Excellent for older or bigger dogs
- Can prevent food from spilling on the floor or bowls from being pushed around
- A little pricier than average
- A little larger than some other bowl types
Travel Bowls are usually collapsible feeders that can be carried in a backpack, worn on your belt, or otherwise taken with you on a camping trip, to a park, or on vacation. These multipurpose bowls come in a few different materials, such as collapsible polyester or nylon fabric, or silicon.
Travel bowls are specific solutions when you need to provide a food or water bowl for your pup but don’t want to take a heavier ceramic or stainless steel bowl or deal with the inflexibility of a plastic bowl.
But because they are collapsible, travel dog bowls aren’t as durable as other types. Still, these feeders are pretty inexpensive and are well worth it if you like to take your dog with you on adventures. Consider at least getting one travel bowl for your dog’s water if you take them hiking or walking in the summer heat.
- Usually inexpensive
- Lots of material options for your preferences
- Can collapse and fit inside backpacks or purses
- Not very durable for long-term feeding – should only be used sparingly
- May not be big enough for full feedings
Automatic feeders are essentially standard dog bowls that are attached to a reservoir or container that regularly disperses food. Depending on the feeder you choose, some may keep your dog's bowl full for as long as possible, provided there is food in the storage compartment.
Other feeders (the more expensive kind) may be programmable and only give your dog food at particular times. Either way, these are great for feeding your dog regularly while you are away, such as at the store or on a day trip.
But you should be careful when using an automatic feeder. If your dog can’t self-regulate, a feeder that simply keeps the bowl full may overfeed your dog, leading to weight problems. It’s usually a better idea to feed your dog in person whenever possible.
- Can be used to feed your dog while you’re away
- Great for maintaining a feeding schedule if the feeder is programmable
- Are usually more expensive than other bowls
- Can overfeed your dog if you aren’t careful
Slow feeders are dog bowls specifically designed for pups that just gobble down their food too quickly! In certain dog breeds, fasting can cause gastrointestinal problems like gas, indigestion, or vomiting.
Slow feeder bowls have ridges or mazes in their centers in which you can pour dry or wet food. Your dog has to spend time licking up the food and enjoying their meal instead of ravenously gulping it down as fast as they can.
Slow feeders come in plastic or stainless steel materials and are well worth it if you want your dog to avoid giving themselves digestive issues.
- Great for dogs that have difficulty eating at a regulated pace
- Not too expensive
- Usually pretty durable
- Can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher
- Usually wider in surface area than other bowls, so they take up more space
- Wet food can stick to the mazes, making cleaning a little difficult
Which Feeder Should You Pick for Your Pup?
Ultimately, only you can decide which type of dog feeder is perfect for your pup. We’d recommend thinking about their feeding habits and how often you feed them every day, as well as how much durability matters to you.
Most people will likely find simple dog bowls like Wild One's stainless steel bowl to be perfect solutions for their dogs. Its nonslip surface and durable bowl interior make it a perfect long-term feeding solution.
But don’t hesitate to check out the other options described above as well. Or check out our blog and online store for more guides and healthy, safe products for your dog!
Food bowls: How can I make it easier for my dog to eat? | CanineArthritis.org
No, You Shouldn’t Just Get an Automatic Pet Feeder and Skip Town | NY Times
What is the best material for pet food bowls? | PetMeds Blog