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Bigger isn’t always better
Everyone likes buying dog food a little bit cheaper, and the most common way of doing that is buying it in bulk. Bigger packaging usually means that you end up with a gigantic bad of dog food that keeps drying out, which is… well bad. The problem with food drying out is that even dry food contains various fats/oils which start oxidizing (long story short: food goes bad and mold starts to develop). We try to delay this by repackaging the food into air-tight/sealed containers which are usually made out of plastic, which can … cause some issues.
The issues with plastic… (and unglazed ceramic and wood)
Plastic not being the best thing for your health is really not a secret; compounds BPA (carcinogenic, hormone-mimicking) and BPS (causes diabetes, obesity, and cancer in minute concentrations) are both an issue on their own. Also, add phthalates (makes plastic softer; disrupt endocrine system) to that mix. That being said, the situation is improving (being regulated) in this field.
There is however the issue of basic properties of plastic (and unglazed ceramic, and wood); specifically micropores and micro-scratches – which are a breeding ground for bacteria. Cleaning the containers daily will help alleviate the problem, but remember to use softer materials during cleaning or you’ll be creating more and more scratches on the material.
So what are the alternatives? Use glass or metallic airtight containers which you then clean regularly (use stuff that doesn’t scratch). If you don’t have one, then pack dog food into smaller airtight sealable bags and then place those into a dark, dry, and cool container.
What about bowls?
Bowls are the same as any other container; if they get micro scratches they can become a breeding ground for bacteria. You can prolong the use of a single bowl by avoiding plastic, wooden, and ceramic (glazed and unglazed) bowls. Typically glazed ceramic or glass would be just fine until it breaks and becomes a hazard to the dog. The alternative is providing your dog with a new plastic bowl every year or so.
In the world of dog bowls safety – metal is king – easy to clean, resistant, and durable. But it tends to look a bit boring and plain. It’s a trade-off.
Anything else I should know about dog bowls?
Of course. If you have a big dog, try not to put the bowls on the floor, as it makes it harder for the dog to eat; put it about 6 inches below the height of their shoulders. If you do this, use bowls that have an anti-skid bottom to help avoid unnecessary cleanup.
Clean bowls daily! If it’s not clean enough for you to eat out of, then neither should your dog.