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Bowls

Best Food and Water Bowls for a Shih Tzu

Overview

Obtaining a food and water bowl for your Shih Tzu may seem like an easy task; however there are a few elements in this regard that owners should be aware of before deciding on which ones are best.

There are 3 elements that you'll want to be concerned with:

1) Material

Plastic bowls are quite terrible for dogs. There are 4 major issues:

1- The plastic itself can cause contact dermatitis, in which the nose leather has an allergic reaction to the plastic as it continually touches it when the Shih Tzu eats and drinks.

2- The heavy dyes use to color the bowls can leak dye into food and water. This can cause staining to a Tzu's facial hairs.

3- This material is porous and can scratch very easily (from both teeth and paws) which can be a potential breeding ground for bacteria. Once the microscopic bacteria finds its way into these tiny crevices, it can be difficult to clean and properly sterilize the bowls.

4- Some of the cheaper ones are infamous for leaking toxins into the food or water. Even those now labeled BPA free can still leak:
  • Phthalates - known to increase risk of breast cancer and cause hormonal disruptions
  • Vinyl Chloride - linked to breast and liver cancer
  • Dioxin - a known carcinogen
Ceramic bowls are one choice for bowls that does eliminate the terrible risks of using plastic ones. However, this is not the best choice for everyone since the one downside is that they are quite breakable. A quick slip from your hand to the floor will most likely result in a crack at best and complete shattering at worst.

Stainless steel bowls are the best choice for a Shih Tzu puppy or dog. There are 5 reasons why you'll want to choose this type of bowl for your Tzu:

1- It is non-porous which means that it will not hold odors or have small crevices that hold bacteria

2- It is strong and essentially shatter-proof

3- They are super easy to clean - you can either hand wash them or place them in your dishwasher

4- They are heavy which keeps them from skidding and discourages a dog from mouthing it and carrying it to another spot.

5- They are extremely durable and can last for many years - possibly for your Shih Tzu's entire life if you obtain a high quality one.

2) Size & Structure

The next element to consider when choosing the best bowl for your Shih Tzu will be the size of the bowl. Puppies are notorious for bumping their little foreheads on the rims of too-large, deep bowls and even adults may do this if the bowl is too large.

When the bowl is too big for the amount of food that you'll be feeding your dog, this can make eating more difficult and cause some frustration.

You'll want the bowl to be sized for your Tzu. Puppies should have very small, shallow bowls and at about the 1 year mark, they can be upgraded to a slightly larger SS bowl.

Most SS bowls are made with a non-skin bottom and you will want to make sure that this is a feature since it will stop the bowl from sliding across the floor as your puppy or dog eats and drinks.

3) Elevated VS Floor Level

Elevated bowls do have some benefits particularly for toy breeds. Eating from an elevated bowl may help dogs that have digestive troubles. Additionally, it puts less strain on a dog's hips, shoulders, neck and joints.  

Large breeds that are prone to bloat (stomach torsion) do better with the bowl on floor level. This applies most often to the German Shepard and the Boxer. The Shih Tzu and most other toy and small sized dogs are less prone to this condition; therefore this is less of a concern for this breed. If your Shih Tzu has had previous issue with stomach bloating, you will then want to opt for a floor-level bowl only, for both food and water.

Having a cute elevated bowl set can also help with the issue of food particles and water ending up on a Shih Tzu's face, which can cause staining to the facial hairs. When facial hairs become damp after lapping water and are not dried, this can cause the moistened hairs to become a breeding ground for red yeast which is one of the causes of tear staining.

Finally, older senior dogs tend to do better with a raised feeder as it is easier to eat with less strain on the entire body.

You'll want to make sure to choose one that is specifically for toy breeds so that it is not so high that the Tzu cannot properly reach it.

A Word About Offbeat, Modern Bowls

You would think that there's not much more one could do to a bowl to make it efficient and safe, however we have seen a few strange wooden bowls and even glass bowls. Wooden bowls are not a good choice for the same reason that wooden cutting boards can be bad: Wood is very porous and can harbor bacteria including salmonella and E. coli. Additionally they tend to be too lightweight and will slide even with a non-skid bottom.

Glass bowls are not a good idea for the obvious reason of being easily breakable which causes a potential fatal event of swallowing glass shards.

Recommended Bowls for Shih Tzu

Keeping in mind all of the elements that we have touched on, the best bowls for a Shih Tzu puppy or dog will be appropriately sized, quality stainless-steel, floor level bowls. You may opt for two separate dishes or a set that sit together within a sturdy rubber or heavy plastic molding (great for messy eaters).

Below are recommended bowls. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. On mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4 items. 
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