Why is My Dog Water Bowl Slimy?

Dog water bowls are standing water. Given this fact, we don’t think about cleaning them as much as we should. If left alone, you may find your dog bowl feels slick and slimy on the inside. What exactly is causing that and is it safe for your dog? Should you be concerned?

The technical term for this usually invisible slime is called “biofilm.” Biofilm is made up of organic and inorganic, living and dead matter. Basically, it’s a bunch of bacteria adhering to the side of the bowl, bound by a thick substance (the slime you feel). Another way to think of it – it”s the same phenomenon that causes plaque on your teeth.

Sure, it can be good bacteria, but it can also be bad bacteria. E. coli, listeria, and legionella (a bacteria that causes a “Legionnaires” disease, which represents itself as pneumonia) all love to live in biofilm. Have pink slime? Pink slime is a sign of Serratia Marcescens bacteria being present. It can cause all kinds of problems including respiratory infections, septicemia, pneumonia, conjunctivitis, to name just a few!

Biofilm has been known be the cause of ear, urinary tract and bladder infections, not to mention the risks the aforementioned bacteria can cause.

What’s worse, is when bacteria is ingested within biofilm, it is resistant to your dog’s immune system, meaning it is more likely to survive and cause problems. The bacteria can also separate within the body, creating new biofilms and new infections – spreading quickly. It’s also difficult for vets to identify which bacteria is causing the problem, because culture swabs have difficulty breaking through the biofilm to get at the bacteria. Due to all this, it can require high doses of antibiotics to kill the bacteria once it’s in your dog’s system.

As you can see – biofilm is a bacteria’s best friend, and a dog owner’s bane.

How to Prevent Slimy Build Up in Your Dog’s Water Dish

The best thing to do is to regularly wash your dog’s water bowl – some vet’s say daily, other’s say weekly. At the very least, every time it’s empty. And by wash, we mean with a soap and very hot water, not just rinsing.

Also, ceramic or stainless steel dishes are better than plastic. Plastic is porous and gets minute cracks and scratches that are the perfect places for bacteria to grow where your soap and water can’t reach them.

Following these simple tips can help keep your dog healthier.

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6 Comments

  1. Great article & thank you so much for these interesting & useful tips each week. Really appreciated
    Just wanted you to know, we do read them !

  2. Robert,
    These little thing’s help a lot ,by gaining more knowledge about animal welfare, keep up the good work regards Steve.

    1. well after reading this I’m going to buy a second bowl and rotate them each day. We wash it about every fortnight in sudsy hot water. Plus I have been wiping with a paper towel and rinsing but obviously that’s not enough!
      Thank you for this scary and informative article

  3. Good article. I Have two stainless steel bowls for Maggie and I wash them every other day in hot water. I have noticed the same slippery film on her ceramic food bowls but assumed it was her saliva as I wash them after every use when I wash up or put them in the dishwasher.

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