TIL my dog’s bowl is a teeming cesspool

Illustration for article titled TIL my dog’s bowl is a teeming cesspool
Photo: Chalabala (iStock)
Today I LearnedToday I LearnedToday I Learned is a feature where The Takeout writers share something they learned today.

Making my usual rounds of food-safety news, germ news, ways-kitchens-can-kill-us news, I came across a tidbit that gave me pause: Apparently, my dog’s bowl is one of the grossest, filthiest objects in my house.


This news, courtesy of NSF International (the public health standards people), perhaps shouldn’t come as a shock. After all, my dog sometimes licks her butt as a cute little pre-dinner ritual, then dives into her mound of kibble. And I rarely clean the stainless-steel dish, let alone sanitize it. Maybe I give it a little wash every month or so? Now I begin to fret: Oh crap, I’m a bad dog mom and a disgusting housekeeper.

My sweet, butt-licking dog
My sweet, butt-licking dog
Photo: Kate Bernot

The NSF report indicates dogs’ bowls are likely dirtier than faucet handles, countertops, and even cutting boards. Accordingly, I should be washing the bowl daily with hot water and soap, and sanitizing with diluted bleach once a week. (Yeah, I’ve definitely never done the latter.) I do move her food bowl outside the back door during the warmer parts of the year, which I guess helps keep those germs out of my house. But what about her water bowl? That’s always placed at the edge of my kitchen, which I’m now realizing brings her germs precariously close to the spaces where I cook food.

What I’m curious to know is whether the germy dog bowl is just an inevitability, like icky kitchen sponges, or whether it’s normal behavior to wash your dog’s bowl on the regular. Takeout readers with puppers, please set me straight on this. I don’t want to be Pig-Pen but I also don’t need to add one more cleaning chore to my ever-growing to-do list.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.



Well, until reading this article I was doing everything you did. So don’t feel bad. That is like most the people I know. I clean it maybe once a month or if it shows signs of being dirty.

I would like to know if this is a health issue for my dog? If it’s just to wash away my worries, I don’t know if I’ll change my behavior.