If you were to wander down to your local Walmart, you could grab a plastic dog bowl off the shelf for a couple of bucks.
It probably wouldn’t be that great, but it would get the job done.
If you are reading this, then you are looking for something a little better.
That’s where we come in!
With the help of our dedicated doggy testing team, we spent 70+ hours reviewing different plastic dog bowls. The goal? To answer one question:
Which is the best plastic bowl for your dog?
Want the answer? Read on!
What is a plastic dog bowl?
Plastic is the single most popular material used to construct dog bowls and with good reason…
Plastics’ ability to be molded into any shape and size gives manufacturers the freedom to create a wide variety of specialized dog bowls.
From slow-feed bowls that feature a maze to stop your dog from eating so quickly…
To spill-proof bowls that prevent your sloppy dog from spilling his water…
No matter what problem you face during mealtime – there is a plastic dog bowl to solve it.
Should you buy a plastic dog bowl?
Let’s look at some of the most compelling reasons for using a plastic dog bowl…
1. Are you looking for an affordable dog bowl?
Maybe you are frugal or on a tight budget, or maybe you cannot justify throwing money away on a pet dish. Well, it is little more than a glorified bowl, after all.
Whatever the reason, plastic dog bowls are by far the most affordable dog bowls around. Often, a plastic dog bowl won’t set you back more than a few dollars – leaving you with more money to spend on the stuff it holds, like kibble.
While some bowls are certainly more durable than others, no dog bowl will last forever. Because your plastic dog bowl was so darn affordable, it won’t hurt as much when the time comes to replace it.
2. Are you looking for variety?
Do you want a dog bowl that is divided into two halves, one for food and one for water? Oh, and one that’s also in the shape of a dog bone? There is a plastic bowl for you.
Do you want a small dog bowl in hot pink with bone and heart cut-outs? Sure, that’s an option too.
My point is that if you want a bowl in an unusual shape, size or color, you are almost guaranteed to find it available in plastic.
No other material can offer so much variety.
3. Do you want a dog bowl that won’t break if it’s dropped?
Unlike ceramic, a plastic dog bowl won’t break when it’s dropped.
Plastic bowls are durable and, short of chewing, hold up well to being roughly handled.
Another advantage is that plastic won’t make a noise when your dog’s tags bump up against it. No more “ting… ting… ting…” during mealtime – a common complaint with stainless steel dog bowls.
Now, that’s not to say that a plastic dog bowl is perfect.
Just like other dog bowl materials, plastic comes with drawbacks.
First, all plastic bowls are lightweight. Even ones that advertise themselves as heavyweight are as light as a feather when compared to a sturdy ceramic bowl. The result is that plastic bowls are easy to carry around or pushed during feeding.
Next, plastic dog bowls are not suitable for chewers. I have seen German Shepherds tear plastic bowls to shreds in no time at all. Here’s the result of our Labrador tester picking up a plastic bowl in his mouth – and he’s not even a chewer, just playful…
If your plastic bowl looks like this, then it should be disposed of. Not only can these scratch marks hold food and bacteria, but chunks of plastic can break off and fall into your dog’s meal. You don’t want your dog to eat plastic, right?
Next, some dogs actually get irritation when they eat and drink from plastic bowls. If your pooch gets pimples or inflammation around the nose and mouth, then it’s possible your plastic dog bowl is to blame. This is often referred to as plastic dish dermatitis and caused by a common chemical found in plastic (p-benzyl hydroquinone). Fortunately, it doesn’t cause a reaction in most dogs. [ 1]
Speaking of chemicals, the exact chemicals found in plastic dog bowls are the cause of much debate. There are concerns that plastic can leach these chemicals into your dog’s food. While reputable brands have shifted to plastics that are considered food-safe (free of BPA, lead, phthalate, etc.), there is no guarantee that every brand has followed suit. Dog bowls do not need to be certified as food-safe the way human dishes do. [ 2]
- Wide range of colors and styles
- Won’t break if dropped
- Not suitable for chewers
- More likely to move around during eating
- Lightweight – easy to pick up by playful dogs
- May irritate your dog
- Scratch easier
How did we test the plastic dog bowls?
At DogLab, we take reviewing darn seriously. We never recommend a product that we wouldn’t happily give to our own precious pooches.
That’s why our testing team thoroughly evaluates each product we recommend – with paws-on use.
By the end of our testing process, we spent 70+ hours researching, testing and reviewing the most popular (and even some unpopular!) plastic dog bowls on the market.
Which plastic dog bowls did we test?
The first part of the puzzle was to decide which plastic dog bowls we should test.
As I mentioned earlier, plastic dog bowls come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. All told, there were thousands of potential plastic bowls for us to test.
Obviously, it isn’t feasible to review them all. So, we had to narrow down our selection.
Fortunately, since this was the last dog bowl review to be completed, we had already tested a wide range of different plastic dog bowls. We had already tested and picked winners across the no-spill, slow-feed and travel-friendly bowl categories.
In fact, by this stage, we had already tested over 80 different plastic dog bowls.
The only type of plastic dog bowl we hadn’t reviewed were those in a traditional shape – you know, just a standard bowl.
So with most of the winners already chosen, we set out to source traditional-shaped plastic dog bowls.
After researching all the different traditional plastic dog bowls on the market, speaking to shoppers, rescues and boarding kennel owners, we narrowed down our selection to 13 different bowls across brands such as Van Ness, K&H, JW Pet, Petmate and Neater Pets.
With our list complete, it was now time to go shopping. We purchased each plastic dog bowl featured in our review today from Amazon.com and Chewy.com.
Yep, at DogLab, we buy every product at the same price you pay. We don’t receive discounts for reviewing products.
Once every plastic bowl had arrived, it was time to test them.
What criteria did we use?
Now that we had our pile of plastic dog bowls, it was time to compare them to determine which was truly best.
To find the number one plastic dog bowl, we tested the following:
Suitability – How well the bowl performed when used by different breeds of dogs.
Durability – How well the dog bowl held up to scratching, washing and regular use by excited dogs.
Mobility – We measured how far each bowl moved around during chow time.
Capacity – How much kibble and water each bowl realistically held. Every bowl was filled to an ⅛ inch below the rim with Rachel Ray Nutrish Kibble and water (separately), and then, we measured the amount in each bowl.
Who tested the plastic dog bowls?
It’s now time to introduce you to who tested the plastic dog bowls.
We assembled a team of four testers to interact with, observe and rate how well each plastic bowl performed.
Where possible, we source testers from Fetch A Friend Rescue, a no-kill rescue organization that takes in dogs from local shelters who would otherwise be put down, giving them a second chance to find a forever home. If you live in Upstate New York and are looking for a four-legged family friend, check them out!
Let me introduce you to…
Breed: Long-Haired Chihuahua
Given up by a family that was not prepared for the responsibility of dog ownership, he is hoping for a second chance with a loving family. With adorable eyes that point in two different directions, Gizmo is a clown and loves to tip dishes and roll in his food. Gizmo isn’t a barker and prefers to get attention by nuzzling your ankle. Gizmo’s tiny size made him perfect for determining which plastic bowls were suitable for small dogs.
Good news! Gizmo has been adopted.
Breed: American Bulldog mix
Champ had a rough start to life, spending his early years chained up in a yard. Preferring to communicate with soft grunts instead of barking, he is looking for a patient owner who will provide him with all the love, experiences and training he missed out on as a puppy. Champ is still learning what is and isn’t a toy and is just as likely to play with his dog bowl as he is to eat from it. Thanks to Champ’s smooshed-in face, he gave us a good idea as to how suited the plastic bowls were for flat-faced dogs.
Good news! Champ has been adopted.
Breed: Yellow Labrador Retriever
Tucker thinks he is a big puppy and has grown to love his job as a dog bowl reviewer – he knows it means food! Here you can see him excitedly waiting for someone to place a plastic bowl filled with food on the ground.
Breed: Border Collie and German Shepherd mix
Harper is a former rescue pup. When outside, she is not so keen on toys – she prefers to hunt for snakes in long grass. However, when inside, she turns into a total toy addict. This week it was hard to get a photo of her without a toy in her mouth.
Which plastic dog bowl was best?
To be honest, plastic dog bowls are a fairly simple product. Because of this, we didn’t select multiple winners.
One brand stood out above all the others to take the top spot…
Best all-around dog bowl
If you just want a good traditional dog bowl, then there really is no going past the JW Skid Stop.
While all plastic bowls are comparatively lightweight, the JW Skid Stop is impressively heavy for a plastic bowl. The BPA-free plastic has a nice heft.
Fused to the bottom of the bowl is the rubber that gives the bowl its name. When combined with the heavyweight plastic and loaded with food, the rubber base prevented our dogs from moving the bowl during mealtime.
In fact, when it came to plastic dog bowls, few were as stable as the JW Skid Stop. It did not move more than one inch during feeding on laminate, wooden, tiled flooring or carpet.
Don’t get me wrong – a big dog will be able to budge it if he really wants to. It’s not as stable as a heavy ceramic dog bowl, but out of all the plastic dog bowls we reviewed, nothing else came close.
The bowl is available in four different sizes:
|Size (inches)||2½ x 5¼||2¾ x 7½||3½ x 9½||4 x 10¾|
|Small kibble capacity (cups)||2||3½||6||8½|
|Large kibble capacity (cups)||1¼||3||5½||8|
|Water capacity (without spilling)||8 oz||20 oz||36 oz||64 oz|
Not sure what size to buy your dog? We found the bowls to be true to size…
- Small – Chihuahuas and Pomeranians
- Medium – Beagles, Spaniels and Border Collies
- Large – Labradors, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds
- Jumbo – St. Bernards and Great Danes
During our research, we came across quite a few reviews stating that the JW Skid Stop was not big enough. Based on our testing, we believe these customers purchased the wrong size for their dog.
We found the plastic to be surprisingly resistant to scratches and staining. Tucker, our most playful tester, loves to treat bowls as toys. The plastic held up well and showed no visible teeth marks. Even so, we don’t recommend this or any other plastic bowl for a chewer.
No issues with cleaning either. A quick trip through the dishwasher or a scrub with warm soapy water removed all caked-on dog food. As always, handwashing extends the life of the bowl.
We did have a couple of gripes with this bowl, but neither could be called a deal-breaker…
Unfortunately, unless you find this bowl on the shelf of your local pet store, you don’t have a choice in color. When you order this plastic bowl, you’ll be assigned a color at random. On the plus side, the colors are mostly neutral – white, black, silver or blue. You don’t have to worry about receiving a hot pink bowl.
Then, there’s the sticker placement. Why companies insist on placing stickers at the bottom of the bowl is beyond frustrating. However, with careful peeling from one edge, the sticker lifted off easily enough. We were able to remove the leftover residue with a bit of coconut oil and a paper towel.
But all in all, the JW Skid Stop holds up to the manufactures claims – it doesn’t slide, it’s durable, scratch-resistant and easy-to-clean.
And best of all, it’s darn affordable and a great product at a budget price. That’s something we can get behind.
Best plastic slow-feed dog bowl
Slow-feed bowls force your dog to eat slower, preventing bloat, gas and vomiting. If your dog eats his meal too fast, then these are worth checking out.
The Outward Hound Fun Feeder took our number one slow-feeder pick. Coming in two different sizes, the maze was accessible to small, large and flat-faced dogs.
For more information on this bowl and other slow feeders, check out our best slow-feed dog bowl guide.
Best plastic no-spill dog bowl
A no-spill bowl cuts down on water spills – no more puddles from sloppy drinkers.
Out of all the no-spill bowls we tested, nothing kept water inside like the Ray Allen Buddy Bowl. Even when flipped upside down, the water remained inside.
For more information on this and other no-spill dog bowls, check out our best no-spill dog bowl guide.
The plastic dog bowls that didn’t make the cut
Every dog bowl can’t be a winner. While each of the following plastic dog bowls had something going for it, they were edged out by our top recommendations in one way or another.
Here are the bowls that didn’t quite make the cut.
Admittedly, my aunt has been using the Van Ness Crock Dish for over four years, and it’s still going strong. However, her pooch is one of the gentlest dogs I have ever seen. While we liked that it came in a range of sizes, in our tests, it held up poorly to teeth marks and scratches. In fact, the bowl showed excessive wear after just a few uses. It was also easily moved around. The plastic base didn’t do well at gripping on laminate, tiled or wooden floors. If your pooch doesn’t bite or paw his bowl, it might be worth checking out, but otherwise, we suggest you stay clear.
The Van Ness lightweight dish was exactly that. Cheap and light. They might be suitable for cats, but for dogs, they were easily flipped and pushed around the floor.
While we liked the idea behind the Petmate Fool-A-Bug , it worked better in theory than practice. The bowl was only suitable for medium to large dogs and was easily overcome by ants. While it did help prevent small wayward bugs from ending up in our dog’s meal, we prefer The Antser as an ant solution. Also, the decision to include triclosan as an antibacterial agent will make some shudder. [ 3]
There wasn’t anything inherently wrong with the K&H Coolin’ Water Bowl. It’s a durable dog bowl and can keep your dog’s water cold for up to 15 hours. Great for those hot summer days. While it’s not exactly an affordable bowl or suited for small dogs, such as Chihuahuas or Dachshunds, it’s worth checking out if the idea of a dog bowl that keeps water chilled appeals to you.
Phew, if you have made it this far, then you know everything you need to choose the ideal plastic bowl for your dog.
A recap of our results…
The best plastic dog bowls we tested:
|JW Pet Skid Stop||Most dogs|
|Outward Hound Fun Feeder||Dogs that eat too quickly|
|Ray Allen Buddy Bowl||Sloppy drinkers|
Which plastic dog bowl does your precious pooch use? Let me know in the comments below!