Food and water bowls for Boxers have slightly different requirements than bowls for other dogs.
It’s important that bowls for Boxers be:
- floor-level (not raised)
- slow feeders
- made from non-toxic materials
- easy to clean
The best choice for water bowls is a high-quality glass but many of the most effective slow feeders are made from plastic.
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Floor Level Bowls
Raised bowls might be popular decor items, but simple, old school bowls that go right on the floor are much safer for your Boxer.
Eating from raised bowls is associated with a dramatically increased risk of bloat or gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV).
This is an emergency situation that disproportionately affects deep-chested breeds like the Boxer.
Gas and fluid becomes trapped in the stomach, which sometimes twists on itself, cutting off blood flow to vital organs.
Without immediate veterinary treatment to release the gas and reposition the stomach, it is fatal.
There is some confusion around bloat and what kind of bowls help avoid it.
Many Boxer owners are still under the mistaken impression that raised bowls are better for their dogs.
This is partly due to the fact that the old advice, since updated, was to raise bowls to reduce bloat.
The current advice is the exact opposite: keep bowls on the ground.
In one study published in 2020, researchers found that in more than half of bloat cases in giant breed dogs, the condition was directly related to the dog having eaten from a raised food bowl.
For large breeds, raised bowls were blamed in 20 per cent of cases.
See the Reference list below to read the study for yourself.
Though the exact mechanism responsible for bloat remains poorly understood, it’s readily apparent that eating from an elevated platform creates an unnatural feeding posture for dogs.
How do wolves and all wild dogs eat?
From the ground.
Keep both water and food bowls at floor level and your Boxer will be in good shape for minimizing bloat risk.
See also: How To Prevent Bloat In Boxers
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Slow Feeder Bowls
Another major risk factor for bloat is eating too fast.
Boxers go at most things in life with gusto, and so you may have a gulper on your hands.
If your Boxer’s food disappears in two minutes flat, you want to do something about that.
Slow feeder bowls are effective at moderating fast eaters.
A pattern of ridges in the bowl means the dog has to eat around obstacles and work to extract food from nooks and crannies.
Choose bowls that have the ridges close together, rather than widely spaced — the latter make it too easy to eat around and won’t slow a Boxer down as much.
We use and recommend the Outward Hound Fun Feeder:
Another option is a slow feeding ball that you can place in a regular bowl to create a similar effect, although these are generally less effective — particularly in larger bowls.
If you think it might work for you, check out the Omega Paw Portion Pacer.
Incidentally, feeding raw meat on the bone as part of an optimal, raw diet also makes for a much slower pace of eating.
If your dog has to rip, tear and crunch his way through a chicken carcass before he can swallow it .. that’s good news for bloat risk reduction.
Note: drinking large amounts of water quickly, particularly right after food, is another contributor to bloat risk.
You can use slow feeders for water — but if you don’t want water sitting in plastic, you can also just use a very small water bowl.
Be sure to keep an eye on the bowl though and refill it often so your Boxer is never left without access to water.
What Is The Bowl Made Of?
Glass is perhaps the most hygienic choice of material for your Boxer’s water bowl.
Veterinarian Dr Karen Becker recommends high-quality glassware made by a reputable company like Pyrex or Duralex.
Dr Becker warns that while the best quality glass is non-toxic, cheaply made products can contain lead or cadmium.
Just be sure to check it for cracks or chips every time you refill your Boxer’s water, which should be at least once or twice a day.
(Just as you don’t want your Boxer ingesting chemicals leached from the bowl, you don’t want him consuming the chemicals commonly found in tap water.
Most of the effective slow feeder bowls are plastic.
(There are stainless steel slow feeders but the grooves tend to be much more widely spaced and don’t slow a Boxer down much.)
Plastic is harder than glass or stainless steel to keep clean.
Wear and tear roughens the surface, making it more likely to harbor bacteria.
But, as long as you wash and dry the slow feeder well, this won’t happen.
Scrub the slow feeder with almost boiling hot soapy water after each use and dry it with a tea towel before letting it air.
Replace bowls once they start looking beat up.
There is some suggestion the dyes and other materials in plastic can cause a reaction in some dogs, even contributing to tear staining.
Choose high-quality plastic that is food-safe and BPA (bishpenol-A) free.
BPA has been shown to hormonally disrupt lab animals, affecting their brain function.
Similarly, the class of chemicals known as phthalates, used to soften plastic, have been linked with hormone and nerve damage in children.
Stainless steel is an easy to clean option but some Boxers can be leery of these bowls because of the noise they make when tapped.
Bear in mind, too, many inexpensive stainless steel bowls may not be food-grade.
In 2012 Petco was forced to recall three different kinds of pet food bowls after they were found to be contaminated with radiation.
The stainless steel contained “small quantities” of radioactive cobalt-60.
According to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the most contaminated bowls emitted radiation equivalent to that contained in a chest X-ray, after six days of exposure.
Ceramic is a good option, with a few caveats.
Unfortunately, some ceramic glazes contain lead which can leach into anything that stays in the bowl for any amount of time.
Probably not so much of a worry for food, which is quickly yummed up, but drinking water could be contaminated this way.
Buying dishes made for human use offers some protection.
Make sure any ceramic water dishes specifically state they are made from lead-free and food-grade glaze.
The BestVida Stoneware Slow Feeder is lead-free and “FDA certified”.
Do Food Bowls Cause Boxer Dog Acne?
Some owners attribute red bumps on their Boxers’ chins to plastic food bowls and recommend stainless steel.
Others think they see chin rashes with stainless steel.
Rather than a contact dermatitis, Boxer dog acne is more likely to be a symptom of a systemic problem.
Irritation of the hair follicles can result when the body enlists the skin to excrete excess toxins accumulated from improper feeding.
In other words, it’s less about the bowl than what goes in it.
Boxers do far better on fresh, natural canine diets than kibble, which is highly processed and contains chemical additives, preservatives and palatability enhancers, among other problematic ingredients.
Use of chemical wormers, flea and tick treatments and other medications also contributes to the toxic load on the body through a process known as toxic accumulation.
Go for bowls that won’t slip around on the floor as your Boxer eats or drinks from them.
Most quality slow feeders have a rubber grip on the bottom.
Glass bowls tend to be heavy enough that they stay put.
It can work well to put the bowls on a mat — even an old bath mat will do — to keep them in place.
This will also contain the mess!
Afterwards you can just stick the mat straight in the wash.
In general, buy the highest quality bowls you can for your Boxer, made from the safest materials.
Well-made glass bowls will prevent toxins leaching into your dog’s water.
When it comes to food dishes, the benefit of slow feeder bowls in helping to prevent bloat outweighs the downsides associated with the plastic they’re usually made from.
To offset those risks, choose a food-grade, BPA-free plastic, clean it well after each meal and replace it if the surface becomes scratched or rough.
Non-dietary risk factors for gastric dilatation-volvulus in large and giant breed dogs, Lawrence T Glickman et al, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, November 15, 2000
Petco Recalls Radiation-Tainted Pet Food Bowls, Pet Product News, August 15, 2012
The Two Germiest Pet Items in Your Home, Dr Karen Shaw Becker, Mercola Healthy Pets, February 3, 2019
Safe Dog Food Bowls (and How to Keep Them That Way), Nancy Kerns, Whole Dog Journal, August 23, 2017
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