Keeping Your Pet’s Dishes Clean

Oct 17, 2017 | Pet Health, Pets

This “Keeping Your Pet’s Dishes Clean” post is one that I wrote when I first started blogging back in 2017.  I decided to go back to it, make some edits, add new links, and combine new and old photos of Jake and Maggie.  This is one that really pushed me to be diligent in cleaning the dogs water and food bowls every day.  

Studies have shown that pet bowls are the third most contaminated item in the household and are a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Biofilm that can make you and your pets ill.

Biofilm: The invisible crud trashing your pet’s immune system

(see my post on What Is BioFilm?)

BIOFILM – that cruddy, sticky or slimy stuff that clings to the insides of your pet’s food and water bowls.

Think of biofilm as a living entity waiting to wreak disease-causing havoc.

Biofilm provides a cozy environment for nasty disease-causing organisms, including E. coli, listeria, and legionella. When biofilm is not removed on a daily basis, biofilm provides a nice comfy home for these bugs to breed & multiply, causing weakened immunity & disease.

One of my favorite cleaning products to clean our house, mudroom (high traffic area) and dog trays is Clorox Clinical.  #ad. I bought mine at Kroger and Amazon.

Jake at 6 months old

#1.  DON’T LEAVE YOUR PETS FOOD UNSEALED.  Air and humidity can rapidly degrade food and increase risk of bacterial contamination like Salmonella.  The oils and food will expire causing GI upset.  To prevent bacteria, pet food should be sealed in a safe container after every feeding.  High quality pet food bags have been designed to keep out the elements and maintain freshness for as long as possible.  I feel comfortable knowing I’ve done everything possible to keep the food fresh.  The best option would be to use an air tight pet food container, buy high quality food, keep the food in the bag and store the bag in the container.  If you choose to pour the food directly from the bag to the container, your container should be thoroughly cleaned and dried before buying a new bag of pet food.

Maggie at 6 months old.

This is Maggie’s way of telling me she is hungry by staring me down.  

​#2.   DON’T LEAVE PET FOOD SITTING OUT TO LONG.  ​I’m guilty of leaving food sit out for a few hours.  The dogs are not always as hungry as I think they are and will leave morsels after their breakfast.  I sometimes leave their food out until lunchtime thinking they might get hungry.  It all depends on the manufacturer and how long you can keep dry food out.  The best way to know is by calling the manufacturer directly.  On the other hand, canned food can only be left out from 2 to no more than 4 hours.  Any unused canned food should be put into the refrigerator immediately.  It’s also important to contact the manufacturer to find out how long the canned food can be fed once it has been opened and placed in the refrigerator.  Unopened dry and canned foods should be kept at room temperature and away from heat, humidity and infestation.

Creating a chemical and toxic free yard for your pet

#3.  DON’T FORGET TO CLEAN FOOD BOWLS AFTER EACH FEEDING.  I thought I was on top of this but after reading this article, I was surprised to read that the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) actually recommends washing pet food bowls, dishes, and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use. This is to prevent infectious agents such as Salmonella or Listeria from accumulating on the items. If you use a plastic container to store your pet food, wash the container when empty, and make sure it is completely dry before adding new food.


Stainless steel bowls are durable, usually dishwasher-safe and easy to maintain. Bowls made of plastic or ceramic are typically more porous, which could make them harder to clean.



This is truly a must-have in your house as it has multi-purposes. The acetic acid content found in vinegar makes it very effective in killing bacteria and microbes that cause sickness. It also has anti-fungal properties that are especially beneficial for pet bowls that have uneven surfaces as it can kill mold. Vinegar can also help to get rid of hard water build up and remove odors. Natural white vinegar and apple cider vinegar are both non-toxic and safe for use on pets.


Baking soda is a mild cleaner and a safe deodorizer. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, the alkaline properties found in baking soda helps to effectively clean bowls by cutting through organic compounds like dirt and grease with just water. Combine it with vinegar and you’ve got a powerful cleaning duo. You can also sprinkle the powder on a sponge and use it as a gentle scouring agent to scrub off bits of food. It is completely safe to use around pets.


While hydrogen peroxide comes in various strengths, using a 3% concentration is sufficient for disinfecting your pet’s bowls. It is a mild oxygen-based bleach with anti-fungal and antiseptic properties. Although it is classified as a bleaching agent, as peroxide breaks down it turns into oxygen and water, leaving behind no residual toxins that might harm your pets.



*Clean all pet bowls with warm water of approximately 60°C to 70°C and mild soap solution
*Use separate sponge and rags for pet bowls, keep away from items used to clean human dishes and cutlery to stop any cross contamination
*Disinfect all bowls weekly by soaking them in a white vinegar solution for 15 minutes before rinsing again with warm water

#4.  DON’T ALLOW YOUNG CHILDREN TO HANDLE PET FOOD.  Children and pet food simply don’t mix. Kids tend to be less reliable in their sanitary habits before and after handling pet food (if not supervised) and they are more likely to incorrectly measure an appropriate meal for your pet. This can harm both your child (exposing them to dangerous infectious agents) and your pet (promoting overeating and issues with obesity).

​#5.  DON’T KEEP PET FOOD PAST IT’S EXPIRATION DATE.  These “best by” or “use by” are established to ensure the safety of your pet.  The expiration dates are found on the side or bottom of the bag or can.  If you can’t find the date, you can call the manufacturer and they will help you locate the date.  Feeding expired food can possibly harm your pet.

​More information on animal health and well being can be found at

This post contains affiliate links.  Two Adorable Labs makes a small percentage on purchases made at no extra cost to you.  


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