Could your Pet's Food Bowl be Harmful?


Could your Pet's Food Bowl be Harmful?

4 min read
Jan 24, 2022

You would do anything to keep your pets healthy. As you'll see, there are hidden dangers in some types of bowls that most people aren't aware of. We're going to look at the most common types of bowls and discuss which ones are dangerous and which are safe for your pet.

Why Avoid Plastic Bowls


BPA stands for bisphenol A. It's a chemical added to certain types of plastic, and may be lurking in your pet’s bowl. It can leach into your pet’s food or water so they end up eating it. Once inside the body, BPA can cause:


  • Brain and behavioral problems
  • Hormone disruption
  • Cancer
  • Heart problems

Young animals that are still developing are particularly at risk for developing these issues and more from BPA being in their bowls. Although you can get BPA-free plastic, there are other problems with plastic food bowls that still make them undesirable for pets.


Another danger of plastic is that it can harbor dangerous bacteria. Plastic is porous so it can absorb microscope organisms like bacteria. When these sit in a warm environment with access to moisture and food, they multiply. What's more is it's nearly impossible to get rid of these bacteria since they're hidden within the plastic. Even washing your pet’s plastic bowl in hot water every day may not be enough to keep them at bay. As you can imagine, these bacteria can cause your pet to get sick.


Did you know that some dogs and cats are allergic to plastic? Eating food that has come into contact with this material causes these pets to develop acne or masses around their mouth because of the plastic.

While these typically go away in time and with minimal treatment, it's best to simply avoid them in the first place. The acne or masses themselves may be harmless, but if your pet scratches at them, they could cause an infection.


Anything that can break into sharp pieces is dangerous for animals.
Dogs that like to chew on anything and everything can gnaw pieces of their plastic bowl off. If swallowed, these sharp pieces of plastic can tear a dog’s insides.
Even if your pet doesn't swallow pieces of their bowl, a bowl that breaks can cut faces and paws. If your pet sticks their foot in a sharp-edged hole in their bowl, for example, it can do some major damage.

Why Be Careful with Glass

Glass is another choice for your pet's bowl. While it's certainly far safer than plastic, you should be extremely careful if you choose it but ultimately consider another option.

The main reason glass is dangerous to pets is that it's breakable. For a cat who eats daintily, you may be able to use glass. For a dog that gets over-excited at meal times, you might want to reconsider.

If a glass bowl breaks, it becomes a danger for both your pet, and for you! The sharp edges can cut delicate tongues and skin. And, if your pet steps on a tiny shard of glass, it could become imbedded in their paw pad.

Why Be Careful with Ceramic and Stoneware

Another option is ceramic or stoneware bowls. These are far better than plastic and not as breakable as glass since they're too heavy for most animals to move far. However, there are a few things that make them less-than-ideal to use for your pet’s dinner.


Clay and stoneware are porous like plastic and can therefore absorb bacteria in the same way. Most of them are covered with a glaze to prevent this, but imperfections on the surface can still allow bacteria to hide.

Additionally, when stoneware or ceramics get chipped, it provides bacteria with the perfect access point to invade your pet's bowl. And, like plastic, you can’t wash the bacteria out when it’s in the material itself.


It's a well-known fact that lead is toxic. What you may not know is that it's often used in glazes for ceramics. If you do use a bowl for your pet of this material, make sure it specifically says “lead-free.”

Most bowls that are made with lead in the glaze are decorative, so if you find a fancy-looking bowl at a garage sale or second hand store and can't verify it's lead-free, leave it there! When it comes to your pet’s health, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Why Use Stainless Steel

At the end of the day, the best type of pet bowl is a stainless steel one. As you'll see, it has three properties that make it ideal for pets to eat and drink out of.


First and foremost, stainless steel is completely smooth. That means that while bacteria can form on the surface, they won't seep into the bowl itself. When you wash your pet's stainless steel bowl with hot water, all the bacteria will be removed.


One of the dangers of other types of pet bowls is that they can break. However, your pet can't break a stainless steel bowl no matter how hard they try. That means you don't have to worry about them swallowing or stepping on shards of it.


How safe is stainless steel for your pet? They can't be allergic to it and it doesn't contain any chemicals that can leach into your pet's food. In fact, stainless steel is used for making surgical equipment because of how safe it is in the body.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.