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Choosing the Best Bowls for a Chihuahua

Why It's Important to Have the Right Bowls

Whether you are planning on bringing home a Chihuahua puppy or you've had your Chi for years, picking out food and water bowls may appear to be one of the simplest tasks, at first glance. However, the bowls that your Chihuahua uses to eat and drink out of actually affect quite a few things: 

How the bowl affects eating:

Ease of eating - If the bowl is sized incorrectly, it will be difficult for a Chihuahua to reach all of his food. Additionally, if the dish is too deep, the forehead can hit on the opposite rim, which interferes with eating. 

Evaluation of food eaten - This is a tiny breed that does not require all that many calories per day to maintain. And many owners are surprised at how little a Chi needs to eat; however, if the bowl is too large this can give a skewed perception of how much the puppy or dog is eating. 

Actual amount eaten - Some puppies and dogs are remarkably picky when it comes to the height of the food bowl. For this reason, just switching from a floor level bowl to a raised bowl can be just the trick to encourage a finicky Chihuahua to eat a bit more. When a dog feels comfortable with his eating area, he is more apt to stay to finish a meal. 

How the bowl affects drinking:

Amount of water ingested - There are many dogs that struggle to ingest enough water and it is important that requirements are met to keep a dog hydrated. This is true not only during hot summer months, but year-round since just a 3% drop in water levels in the body can manifest as dry skin issues and other problems. The right bowl (or water dispenser) will attract a dog and help to keep water cool, which is a main attraction point for dogs. 

Why Material Matters

You'll want to steer clear of any sort of plastic bowls, and opt for stainless steel instead; ceramic is an alternative choice as well 

Plastic bowls are the cheapest to buy, easy to lug around if you're on the go and appear easy to wash; however, there are very negative consequences to using plastic (even if it is BPA free and marketed to be 'non-leaking' plastic:

1) Tear staining - There are 8 main causes of tear staining and plastic bowls is one of them. While you'll need to follow some remedies to rid a Chihuahua of tear stains, discarding plastic bowls is an important step. 
2) Nose discoloration - If you see an adult Chihuahua with a brown and pink or black and pink nose, there is a good chance that it lost color due to eating and drinking out of plastic bowls. 
3) Bacteria - Plastic scratches very easily due to a dog's sharp teeth and nails. Brand new bowls can have marks inside them in just a matter of days. These sorts of scratches are the types of places that are just perfect for bacteria to grow. And each new use of the bowl brings about more nicks and dings. It is a constant battle to keep them clean and hygienic enough to eat out of. 

Stainless steel bowls, on the other hand, can take a beating and resist scratching. Bacteria simply does not form on steel as it does with plastic. 

4) Temperature - Inferior plastic bowls offer nothing in the form of temperature control. However, stainless steel can do two things: It helps to keep water cool, providing you add cold water in the first place and if you happen to warm your Chihuahua's food (this is one method to help finicky eaters), it will aid in keeping the food warm. 

5) Sturdiness - Even with non-slip surfaced backs, lightweight bowls slip and slide over the floor. However, a quality stainless steel bowl will have a bit more weight to it, and along with a non-slip backing will stay in place better. Just this element alone can help a dog feel more comfortable eating his meals. 
Chihuahua sitting at window
Lucky, at 6 months old
Photo courtesy of Tonya Flowers
6) Durability - If you want to buy a bowl once and have it last for years, a high quality stainless steel is the way to go. There's no point in saving just a couple of dollars to then have to repurchase the item every 6 to 12 months. 

So, it's been established that stainless steel is the best type of bowl for a Chihuahua... but what about height?

Floor Level VS Raised Bowls

Some breeds should not eat from raised bowls; this would be those that are prone to bloat such as the Boxer, Akita and Alaskan Malamute. Luckily, the Chihuahua is not among those prone to this condition and since it is often caused by very rapid ingestion of food or water or eating right after excessive exercise, very few Chi's ever develop this. 

This means, that you have the freedom to choose a raised bowl for your Chihuahua, if he does prefers this. 

When is this best? 

Each Chi is very unique in regard to which type of bowl he likes. 
In general, Chihuahuas that do like raised bowls are those that tend to like to eat out of their owner's hand, those that share an eating area with a cat or those that seem uncomfortable when bending down to eat from a floor level dish. 

If you are not sure what your Chi would like best, you can place his floor level bowl onto a sturdy raised object (shoe box or other) to see how he responds. Though, it should be noted that some of the best raised options have adjustable height increments, which means that you can tailor it to perfectly fit your particular Chihuahua. 

What About Specialty Bowls or Water Dispensers? 

There are 3 main types of variations and of these, 2 that you may want to consider, depending on your Chihuahua's needs:

X Water bottle dispensers - These are often plastic dispensers with a metal hose that are connected to cages with the purpose of being a dispensers that cannot spill when a dog is home alone. However, since most of these do need to be hooked to caging and we do not endorse crating or caging a Chihuahua (such a small confined space is stressful; better is a gated off area or canine playpen), we therefore do not recommend these.

* Travel bowls - When you take your Chi for a long walk or out for the day, you'll need to bring along water. And one of the best methods of doing this is to have an all-in-one canine travel bowl in which the lid also serves as the bowl or to obtain a collapsible bowl. The pros of an all-in-one is ease of use; you carry the container, the water and the bowl all together and this is easy to fit into your purse or carry-bag. 
Chihuahua yawning
Cosimo, at 4 mths; Photo courtesy of Maria Sciandra
The pros to the collapsible bowl is that it takes up less space in your bag; however, do keep in mind that you'll also need to carry water. This can be a good choice if you are already bringing water for yourself or are heading to where there will be filtered water and all you need is the bowl itself. 

* Water fountains - Unfiltered tap water, in most areas of the U.S. is filled with shocking levels of toxins including cancer-causing agents and lead. In addition, many areas have added fluoride, which is toxic to canines. We hope that you are not drinking water straight from your kitchen tap and we that neither is your Chihuahua. While adding a filter to your tap is a good choice, another option that can also work very well to encourage water consumption is to use a fountain instead of a traditional bowl. The noise of the flowing water can encourage a dog to drink and a quality one will not tip over. 
Please note that a lot of fountains have plastic catchers, thus bringing back the problems that go along with that material. So, you'll if you do opt for this sort of watering source, choosing a ceramic one is the way to go. 

The Best Bowls for Chihuahua Puppies and Dogs

Keeping in mind material, sizing, height, quality and price, these are the top recommended bowls for traditional floor, raised, travel and fountains. 
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