A dog bowl is probably the very first thing you buy when you get your pet. They're a simple enough product - a receptacle that holds food or water. So why are there so many different types available? Well, at home you'll want a solid, sturdy bowl that won't dance across the floor as your dog attacks his dinner. And if you're off hiking or camping you'll want something light and portable. Let's take a look at the options and some examples to see which is best for your four-legged waste disposal unit.
ETHICAL 9-1/2-Inch STONEWARE CROCK DOG DISH
Best for sturdiness
We'll start with a standard stoneware dish, no frills, no tricks, just a heavyweight bowl for either food or water. The benefit of a stoneware dish is simply the weight, keeping it firmly placed on the floor so it doesn't move around during the most frenzied of feeds. They last forever too and are easy to clean. I also find they don't develop the hard water marks that our metal bowls do. I've picked this one from Ethical because it's 9.5" wide, when most others are around 6" and often more expensive, so this is great value and a great size, and it looks pretty classy too.
ELEVATED DOUBLE STAINLESS STEEL DOG BOWLS WITH IRON STAND
Best for older dogs
Raised bowls are ideal for older dogs and I bought this one for my last dog Rossi. He struggled with a bowl on the floor the older and more arthritic he got. These were a game changer and made eating more comfortable, taking the strain out of his neck and back and his wobbly front legs. They're also more hygenic being away from the floor and, if you leave your back door open on summer evenings, you're less likely to find a frog sitting in your dog's water bowl. Yes, that happened. They are also better for digestion by keeping the head above the stomach, reducing the possibility of bloat, too.
Ours is three years old and still going strong. Rumble is pretty rangy so I have it set at the highest level, but they're fully adjustable for any size of dog, throughout their life stages. You can set it at any height from 3" to 16.5", held in place by a locking knob on the central support. The stainless steels bowls are a decent 7.4" in diameter and are secured with a locking clasp to prevent them moving or rattling about during feeding.
You can buy raised bowls on stylish wooden frames, wire racks, multi-adjustable plastic frames and solid non-adjustable units. Some of these plastic designs looks to me like they could be easily knocked over. The type I use is very solid and the only kind with full adjustability rather than a number of pre-set heights.
OUTWARD HOUND FUN FEEDER SLO BOWL
Best for guzzlers
Slow feeders are a solution to the problem of bloated bellies from eating too fast, helping to improve digestion and reduce trips to the vet. They also make mealtimes more fun as they force your dog to forage for his dinner and dig it out of the grooves, seeking out every morsel. Scrolling through all the reviews, on average owners saw their dog's mealtime extended from under a minute to around five minutes.
These Outward Hound bowls are the number one best seller in 'dog bowls' on Amazon, and probably because they're so well priced. This means you can buy more than one of the five different designs with different patterns, making feeding more interesting. Personally, I'd avoid the Mint one as it looks like it has harder edges on the zig zag design and I read one review where a German Shepherd ended up with a sore mark on his nose from using one (it didn't say which bowl, but the Mint design looks like the obvious culprit. All the others have more rounded edges to their pattern).
They come in three sizes and are good for dry and wet food, with wet food reportedly making the meal last even longer.
ROAD REFRESHER NON SPILL WATER BOWL
Best for road trips
I've had one of these for years now and it's perfect for our van, where Rumble can access water even when we're driving. The bowl is in three parts, with the main bowl capped by the black, tapered lip and a floating inner plate that allows water through. This floating plate is the crux of the design and sits on top of the water preventing it from splashing up out of the bowl, as the holes in its surface only allow enough water through to fill its shallow dish.
It's a pretty sturdy bowl too, and doesn't move about at all. Some customers gave it one star for not being able to prevent their sloppy dog from dripping water all over the floor, but I'd argue that's more to do with the dog than the bowl. Most others who used the Road Refresher in a campervan or car (the clue is in the name) rave about its design for on-the-move refreshment. It works for us, but after years of use I've lost some of the foam that sits in the floating section to keep it afloat. A simple fix using some similar foam I found in some packaging sorted it.
COLLAPSIBLE TRAVEL DOG BOWLS
Best for outdoor adventures
If you search for travel dog bowl on Amazon.com and select those with only 4 and 5 star ratings, you have a round 700 options! Essentially they're either collapsible silicone plastic bowls or waterproof textile types. Either can be pocketed, although most come with a carabiner to attach to your belt loop or accessory loop on a backpack.
There are some cool exceptions like this square, collapsible bowl from Cooler Dog, which is the same as the round material types, but folds down into a neater, pocketable package. Or this similarly funky design from Tuff Mutt with its own carrying pouch.
Personally I prefer the silicone collapsible bowls as they squash flat, pop right back into shape instantly and are easier to clean than the textile ones. Plus I'd rather be able to hook it to my backpack rather than put it in my pocket, especially after it's been eaten or drank from. I have both types, and admittedly the canvas style will last longer than the collapsible silicon options as they eventually perish and can tear at one of the folds after much use. I still favor them as they're cheap and simple and you can keep a number of them in different backpacks, coat pockets, glove boxes etc.
With so many to choose from and very little difference in material, go for the best size and price for you. I'd pick multi packs of bowls like the five you get here for around $10 from Senhai. If you need something larger, then mine are XQDD Collapsible Dog Bowls (pictured) and come in a 7" and 5" diameter pair, for food and water, and feature the carabiner clip and a number of bright color options. Reviews on many of these types of bowl feature someone whose purchase ripped at one of the creases, but mine are still fine after a few years of use. These also come in a slow-feeder version with knobbles in the base.