Pet Products

Does Material Matter? Finding the Best Bowl for Your Pet

March 24, 2022

Last September, I found myself in the market for new dog bowls.  Although most of our stuff got to the new house safely, unfortunately, the box containing Kit’s and Fen’s bowls must have gone for a rough ride.  Quite a few of their ceramic bowls arrived broken.  When it came to replacing them, I decided to put a bit more thought/research into my selection.  Does material matter when it comes to dog bowls?  What is the best type of pet bowl?

Who would have thought there’s so much to learn about buying dog bowls!?

I’ve always been aware of many of the different types/materials of bowls that are available, but until recently I never put too much thought into how they differ.  The most common materials used to create pet bowls include plastic, ceramic, glass, silicone, and stainless steel.  Each type comes with their own lists of pros and cons…

best pet bowl

Plastic Pet Bowls:


  • Plastic pet bowls can come in a wide array of colors, and even shapes!
  • They are commonly some of the easiest to find for sale, as well as the least expensive.
  • Plastic pet bowls are unlikely to break, even if dropped or thrown around by your pet.


  • Although they don’t normally shatter, plastic bowls can be easily scratched or chewed on by your pet.
  • These scratches can quickly become breeding grounds for bacteria, which could make you and/or your pet sick.
  • Some dogs can develop allergies to plastics, which can lead to skin irritation on their face.
  • Not all plastic is BPA free.  BPA from plastic bowls can leach into your dog’s food, and over time can lead to health issues.

best pet bowl

Ceramic Pet Bowls:


  • Ceramic bowls are, in my opinion, the most visually appealing option.  They come in a wide array of colors and designs, and can sometimes even be customized.
  • Ceramic pet bowls are easy to clean, and, as long as they remain nonporous, will not harbor bacteria.


  • However, ceramic bowls are easy to break.
  • Any cracks in the bowls, no matter how small, will offer a space for potentially harmful bacteria to breed.
  • Depending on the design/where you get it, ceramic bowls can be expensive.

best pet bowl

Glass Pet Bowls:


  • Glass pet bowls are relatively simple, easy to clean, and easy to find in stores.


  • Although they are usually on the simple side, glass bowls will usually not be your cheapest option.
  • Glass, like ceramic, is easy to break if dropped or hit around too much by your pet.  Any chipped or broken areas may be sharp, and offer an area for bacteria to colonize.  It’s best practice to dispose of broken/chipped glass bowls.

Silicone Pet Bowls:


  • Silicone comes in a wide array of colors.
  • It is also lightweight, durable, and typically collapsible. Silicone pet bowls are awesome for travel!


  • Being so lightweight can also be a con.  These bowls are easy for even small pets to pick up or knock around.
  • They are also easily damaged if chewed.  These bowls are best used for travel rather than an everyday use.

best pet bowl

Stainless Steel Pet Bowls:


  • Stainless steel bowls are nonporous and very easy to clean.
  • They do not harbor bacteria and, because they are metal, can usually be disinfected using high heat.
  • Stainless steel bowls run the gambit when it comes to pricing.  Simple stainless steel bowls are typically both cheap and easy to find.
  • More decorative options exist if you’re looking for something with a bit more style.  Stainless steel bowls often come with colored coatings on the outside.  Nonskid rubber bottoms are popular if you have a pet who likes to push around his/her dish.
  • These bowls are very durable and hard to break, even if dropped or smacked around by your pet.
  • Stainless steel pet bowls come in a wide array of sizes, from very, very small to huge.


  • Be careful not to allow your dog to chew on stainless steel bowls, as it could damage his/her teeth.
  • Although it’s not super common in dog bowls, stainless steel can, under some conditions, rust.
  • Color and optimization options are limited, unless you get a stainless steel bowl with some type of coating on the outside.  While more aesthetically pleasing, some of these coatings cannot be put into the dishwasher or exposed to high heat.

What Type Of Bowl Did I Choose?

If you haven’t already guessed by the long list of pros, I decided to go with stainless steel bowls for my own dogs.  I really liked these Yeti dog bowls, which are apparently really popular amongst all the spoiled pooches.  As highly rated as they are, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend around $50+ per bowl – especially considering I was looking into buying multiples.

Then I came across these stainless steel Hydrapeak bowls.  They look similar to the Yeti bowls, but are cheaper.  The Hydrapeak bowls are made from double wall insulated food grade stainless steel, and are dishwasher safe.  The outside features a durable powder coating, available in multiple colors.  So far, I’ve purchased two of the 8 cup (1.89 l) bowls that I use as water bowls for Kit and Fen.  I’m waiting for a few of the colors to come back into stock in the 4 cup (0.95 l) size to use as food bowls for the boys.

Once a week, I wash our Hydrapeak bowls in the dishwasher on the sanitize setting.  In between that, I just handwash them.  They’ve been holding up really well so far.  I’ve had them since early November and both of them still look like new, despite all the washings and exposure to high heat in the dishwasher.

I have to admit, we do have a few other dog bowls as well, as the pictures in this post would suggest.  The boys each have a plastic slow feeder bowl.  We have one set of ceramic bowls that actually did make it through the move, a silicone travel bowl that we take hiking with us, and old stainless steel bowls that we still use regularly.  I really like having multiple dog bowls.  That way when some are dirty, I can just grab a clean bowl instead of having to handwash a dirty one.  Have I ever mentioned here before how much I hate doing dishes?  I really, really hate doing dishes!  I’m so thankful our rental house has a dishwasher.

Comment below!  What’s the best pet bowl you’ve found for your pet?  What type of bowls do you use currently?

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  • Reply Kamira G March 26, 2022 at 12:02 pm

    I’m a fan of stainless steel or ceramic bowls too. I’m happy that you found a version that you could easily clean or pop in the dishwasher. It makes your life a little easier and they are safe for your dogs.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack March 28, 2022 at 8:54 am

      Thanks! Yes, after living just over 10 years in an apartment that didn’t have a dishwasher, I’m so over handwashing dishes lol.

  • Reply Robin March 26, 2022 at 4:51 pm

    I’m a fan of stainless steel too, but I also use ceramic. My Dexter (a cat) likes to knock dishes over, so I have to have something heavy so he can’t do that. Right now, I have a stainless steel dish inside of a bigger heavy ceramic dish to make it harder to knock over. So far, it has worked. I love your recommendations with the pros and cons!

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack March 28, 2022 at 8:57 am

      I like getting the oversized stainless steel dishes, even though I have small dogs. I noticed when I fill them that the weight of the water and the rubber feet on the bottom of the dishes are enough to prevent my dogs from moving them. The other day I saw a stainless steel dish with some type of suction cup on the bottom, to prevent pets from knocking them over! It looked interesting, but I’ve never tried that style myself.

  • Reply jana rade March 26, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    The material certainly matters when it comes to dog bowls. For a long time, I was concerned about glass bowls and used stainless steel instead. As it turned out, a super-thick glass bowl is virtually unbreakable and I consider glass the best material.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack March 28, 2022 at 8:59 am

      I considered going with glass, but I’m so clumsy sometimes. Knowing me, I’d still find a way to break even the thickest of glass bowls. I’m honestly surprised our current ceramic bowls have lasted as long as they have. It’s only a matter of time before I drop them, lol.

  • Reply Marjorie Dawson March 26, 2022 at 10:21 pm

    The material matters. Our Harvey was allergic to plastic it gave him feline acne on his chin. I removed the bowl, voila acne gone!

    Ours get a combination of china bowls and stainless steel as plastic bowls become fragile with age. The bowls sometimes end up outside and knocked about so steel works well and lasts a lot longer.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack March 28, 2022 at 9:00 am

      I’ve heard of dogs getting acne from plastic bowls too! Stainless steel is my favorite, especially when you can find ones with color options on the outside that are still dishwasher safe.

  • Reply Beth March 27, 2022 at 10:10 am

    Our dogs have a mixture of ceramic and stainless steel bowls. Two of the dogs also have slow feeder bowls and various puzzle toys for their kibble. I don’t love that most of these are plastic, but I check them for damage regularly.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack March 28, 2022 at 9:01 am

      I have slow feeders too. I feel the same way, I don’t love that the slow feeder bowls are plastic, but what are you gunna do? I don’t use them every day, only once in a while when I want to give my dogs a bit more mental stimulation during meal time.

  • Reply Terri March 27, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    This is really good information. I need to get Henry two new water bowls. There is certainly a lot to consider. I may go with a new ceramic one and a stainless steel one. It seems like a good compromise, especially after reading your article. Thank you for doing my research. And by the way, Kit and Fen aren’t spoiled, they are very well loved. At least that’s what I tell people when they say Henry is spoiled. 😉💖🐶

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack March 28, 2022 at 9:03 am

      Aw I agree! I call them spoiled but really they are awesome, they deserve it. Have fun picking out new bowls for Henry! I love that there are so many options out there.

  • Reply Dorothy "FiveSibesMom" March 27, 2022 at 4:54 pm

    Great review of bowls! I always used stainless steel also. In the very beginning (going back over a decade and a half!) and two of my raised units came with blue plastic bowls. I wound up switching them out to stainless and never looked back! I really like that Hydrapeak one! (I’m a big fan of the Yetis!) I would totally have given this one a try! Pinning to share!

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack March 28, 2022 at 9:04 am

      I love the Yetis too, but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on dog bowls lol. Especially because I needed multiples too, not just one. We’ve been loving the Hydrapeak ones though.

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