Can two dogs share one water bowl? Here’s What to Expect

Every animal has different needs for drinking water. The proper intake of water will depend not only on the animal’s species, but also on their overall size and health, age, activity level, and the general climate and temperature. Drinking enough water is essential for the animal to regulate its body temperature, digest properly, get nutrients to cells throughout its body, lubricate its joints, cushion nerves, and flush waste and toxins from its body.

When multiple pets share the same household in relative peace and harmony, it’s natural to assume they can safely share the same water bowl. In the case of cats and dogs, this is generally true, and the animals won’t come to harm by sharing a water bowl. While bacteria, parasites, and viruses could potentially be passed from pet to pet through contaminated water, the animals will also have many other opportunities for diseases to be transmitted as they share the same space, play with the same toys, sniff or groom each other, share bedding or favorite napping spots, wrestle together, or get petted and touched by the same loving owners. Sharing a water bowl will not significantly increase the risk of disease transmission for pets living in the same household.

Certain pets, however, should not share water bowls with other pets, even in the same home. As a rule of thumb, pets that are generally confined to separate habitats – such as a tortoise in its own tank, a gerbil in a multi-level condo, or a bird in its own cage – should not regularly share water with other pets when they don’t naturally intermingle on an ongoing basis. If the animals are free-roaming, such as cats and dogs, sharing a water bowl is fine if both pets are comfortable with the arrangement.

Many pet-friendly parks and businesses may offer a communal water bowl for thirsty visitors. If pets can safely share the same water bowl, are these communal bowls equally safe? Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. There is no way to know how frequently or carefully a communal water bowl may be cleaned, or how fresh the water is, or even how healthy other animals may be that have already drunk from the bowl, including whether or not nearby wildlife may also have used the bowl. To keep your pet safe, bring along your own water bowl when your pet may need a drink (a collapsible design is compact and easy to carry), teach the animal to drink from your hand or a bottle, or use a disposable cup for a safe drink instead.

All pet water bowls should be thoroughly washed each day to keep them clean and fresh. Stainless steel bowls are generally easier to keep clean and less likely to help bacteria, viruses, or parasites grow. If possible, bowls should be sterilized in a dishwasher, and they should always be rinsed thoroughly so there is no lingering soap or other residue that could be toxic to thirsty pets.

What are symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs?

  • Fever.
  • Vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Refusal to eat.
  • Severe weakness and depression.
  • Stiffness.
  • Severe muscle pain.
  • Dogs can contract leptospirosis by drinking from water sources contaminated with urine from an infected animal. Puddles that have formed from rain runoff certainly qualify as such a source.

    When it comes to food, separate bowls are essential when you have dogs of different sizes, ages or breeds. Caloric intake varies if one dog is pregnant, or if one is an adult and the other a puppy. Certain breeds also have special requirements. Growing large or giant breeds require a diet that helps keep their growth at a slow rate so their bones can develop properly. Small or toy breeds typically have higher metabolisms, and often require diets higher in certain nutrients in order to maintain healthy blood-sugar levels.

    Having two bowls for water is also beneficial to your dogs health, especially in hotter weather. For optimal nutrition, dogs require approximately 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight daily. Two bowls help to make sure dogs of different sizes or needs get their fair share. If you have a large house, having bowls in different areas is helpful, especially if one dog is older or has trouble walking. Also, its just as important to monitor water consumption as food intake, since an increase in thirst is a common symptom of diabetes as well as liver and kidney diseases.

    Even when two dogs get along wonderfully, food can spark a fight. It is an inherited instinct for dogs to protect their food, especially if a dog had to compete for it in his past. A dog being protective of the food bowl is not uncommon in multi-dog households. Feeding dogs in separate bowls can help combat this problem. However, it’s not always a solution. Consult your veterinarian if your dog shows signs of moderate food aggression toward you or other pets. If ignored, this behavior may escalate.

    Having two dogs is twice the fun. It’s twice the companionship, playtime and love. However, with two dogs you may have rivalry. This can lead to fights and twice as many vet bills. Having two also requires being twice as observant, especially when it comes to noticing signs of an early illness. Having two bowls can help with these as well as other potential problems.

    If one dog has a health concern and is on medication, two bowls are imperative. Separate bowls allow you to make certain one dog gets the medication he needs, while your other dog doesn’t digest medication that is potentially harmful. Having two bowls also makes it easier to notice if one dog has a decrease or increase in appetite. Either one of these can be an early warning sign that something is medically wrong, and your veterinarian should be consulted.

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    The dog water bowl has become a regular sight on the high street and in parks. You often spot them outside cafes, put there so that when you stop for a refreshing drink, your pet can join in too.

    But just as you wouldn’t share the same glass with people in the café, should your dog be drinking out of a water bowl that many other pets have also used?

    Pet owners and vets are becoming increasingly concerned about shared water bowls and the potential risk of cross-infection of contagious canine diseases such as Distemper, Kennel Cough (Bordetella) and Parvovirus.

    It is true that there are few communicable diseases that are spread directly by mouth. One example is the canine papilloma virus which may spread through your dog’s saliva if he has contact with a dog carrying the virus. Symptoms are small warts or benign tumors that develop on your dog’s tongue, lips, gums or in his throat.

    However, although not spread directly by oral contact, many other infections and viruses can find their way into a communal dog bowl and affect your pet.

    Take Kennel cough and canine flu for example. These airborne respiratory diseases are transmitted though sneezing and coughing. The germs can survive in water in a communal dog bowl too, if an infected dog has coughed nearby.

    Dogs with their fondness for sniffing each other’s body parts are already exposed to faecal waste. However, if faecal bacteria get into the communal drinking bowl, intestinal pathogens such as roundworms and parvovirus could be easily spread from pet to pet.

    While you might well give your dog fresh water every day and regularly clean his water bowl, can you be sure the communal bowl in the park is receiving the same level of cleanliness? Or whether the low water level is just being topped up rather than removed and replaced?

    Dog water bowls are more common in the very hot weather in a bid to keep pets hydrated whilst they are out and about. However, it is good to remember that a dog’s water bowl can be affected by the heat and should be placed in the shade. Stagnant water is never good to drink.

    If your dog has a strong and healthy immune system, it is less likely he will contract a serious disease from a shared water bowl. However, if you pet suffers from poor or ill health, you might want to carry your own portable dog bowl and water supply with you.

    A stainless steel, non-porous dog bowl which is regularly put in the dishwasher, is the best option for dog bowl hygiene.

    Finally, extend this good hygiene practice to the home too. If you have more than one pet sharing a water dish, make sure to wash your dog bowl thoroughly every day.

    First Aid for Pets provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical or veterinary advice. First Aid for Pets is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.