Your pet’s dinner needs to be served up on a clean platter (or bowl). We often forget that our pet’s bowls need to be cleaned, just like the dishes we eat off of. But when was the last time you washed your pet’s food and water bowls? Yesterday? Last week? Last month? When you bought them? These dishes often get missed when we’ve finished our daily meals, and they need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Not only do dirty dog dishes look gross, but they can also be hazardous to your pooch’s health. Both water and food bowls can become breeding grounds for bacteria and germs that’ll make your dog sick. That’s why it’s time to clean up your act and get to scrubbing those dog bowls. How Often Do I Wash My Dog Bowls? In a perfect world, you would wash your dog’s food and water bowls after every use. It sounds like a lot of work, but imagine the same scenario with your own dishes… eating every meal off of an unwashed dish. Yep, pretty gross. Now that you’ve got that image in your head, start washing Fido’s bowls in the morning and at night. What to Use to Disinfect Dog Bowls For hand washing, use a cloth or sponge that’s only used for your dog’s bowls. Dish soap, water and some elbow grease, along with a good rinse, will get the bowls clean.Running them through a cycle in the dishwasher is also an excellent way to keep your dog’s food and water bowls clean, not to mention easier for you! Hand Wash or Dishwasher? When it comes to cleaning dog bowls, the dishwasher wins, hands down. While hand washing with soap and hot water will get the bowls clean, the dishwasher takes it a step further. Most bacteria that collect on pet bowls needs scalding hot water (140° F) to fully remove and kill it. Try hand washing in that hot water! If you must, put on a couple pairs of rubber gloves before diving into the sauna sink. Why Your Dog Needs a Food Mat Dog food mats aren’t just decorative – they’re an important part of keeping your dog’s eating area clean. Most dogs are messy eaters and drinkers. Food mats catch spills and messes, as well as drool and slobber. Some food mats have a raised edge to assure that the food never touches the floor. This prevents your dog from eating directly off of the floor and congesting harsh chemical residue that are in floor cleaning products. It also makes your life easier, since it is easy to clean up leftover food. Remember to give the food mat a good hand washing or wipe on a daily basis to avoid bacteria growth. Some parting thoughts on dog dishes: If you’re using cheap bowls made of plastic, it’s not uncommon to find mold growth if you’ve let them sit out long enough. Throw those bowls out and buy new bowls for a fresh start. And inspect your dog’s bowls for scratches. Deep scratches are a hub for bacteria and other icky things that are invisible to the eye. Replace your dog’s food and water bowls when necessary to keep your dog healthy and happy.