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Home Bella Woof Dangers of Communal Water Bowls for Dogs

Dangers of Communal Water Bowls for Dogs

by Bella Woof

Your dog can get sick from drinking out of a dog-park water bowl or water fountain, although it’s rare. Dogs have strong immune systems. If your dog is healthy, and not a puppy or an old dog, he should be fine.

Water Bowl Dangers

But here’s what you need to know: Infectious and contagious diseases may be left in a water bowl by a sick dog’s saliva. Dogs also can contaminate bowls by stepping into the water with a paw that has feces on it. Your dog could contract canine flu, internal parasites, Giardia, kennel cough, salmonella, and more from a shared water source.

Other dogs or rodents can leave parasites behind. Just leaves falling into a bowl that hasn’t been cleaned for days could have bacteria that could make your dog sick. Clean water sources are important.


Natural sources of water, like ponds and puddles, can contain the bacteria that causes leptospirosis, as well as other potentially harmful organisms. Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of wildlife and, while dogs can pass it to each other, it’s not likely, unless, of course, an infected dog pees in the water bowl, which can happen.

When to Avoid Shared Bowls

We recommend you avoid allowing your dog to drink from a shared bowl but not at the expense of his health. If it’s hot, he needs to drink. Don’t dehydrate your dog in the process of trying to protect him because chances are he will be fine.

So, you don’t need to live in paralyzing fear of communal water bowls or puddles, just avoid them whenever you can. If you know your dog may need water while you’re out, bring it with you. There are many dog-friendly portable water carrying devices.

Worrisome Home Bowls

A 2011 study done by NSF, a consumer-protection group, showed that dog bowls are among the top five dirtiest objects in most homes. When NSF certified a stainless-steel bowl from the WeatherTech PetComfort Feeding Station as meeting human standards for safety, Lisa Yakas, senior certification project manager for consumer products at NSF, said: “Pet bowls, in particular, have the potential to be harmful if they are made with materials that can leach harmful chemicals into your pet’s food and water.”  Clearly, your dog needs clean, fresh water, preferably in a quality stainless-steel bowl that is washed regularly.

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