I have only fed my pets with stainless steel bowls since sometime around 1998, when I heard a news story somewhere about how the chemicals used to make plastic bowls can leach into your pet’s food and cause health issues. I didn’t have to dive into the details; hearing the story once was enough for me to make a simple switch and never look back.
Ingesting BPA? Yummy!
Every few years, articles regarding the safety of plastics return to news headlines – most recently in the form of reports of a chemical found in baby and sports bottles: Bisphenal A, or BPA.
Bisphenol A is prepared by the condensation of acetone with two equivalents of phenol. The reaction is catalyzed by an acid, such as hydrochloric acid (HCl) or a sulfonated polystyrene resin.
Bisphenol A has low acute toxicity, with an oral LD50 of 3250 mg/kg in rats, but it is an endocrine disruptor. Low doses of bisphenol A can mimic the body’s own hormones, possibly causing negative health effects. There is thus concern that long term low dose exposure to bisphenol A may induce chronic toxicity in humans.
This caused a run on glass and stainless steel bottles from concerned parents and water enthusiasts. I also traded in my plastic water bottles for one reusable stainless steel bottle, and I must say, the water tastes much better. (Have you ever noticed how the water in your bottle tastes terrible if left in the car overnight and it experiences a change in temperature? That doesn’t happen with the BPA-free stainless steel bottles!)
So what about your pet’s food bowl? There are many different types and materials, but according to the National Institue of Health and other major environmental groups, the chemicals used to make plastic bowls and bottles *can* get into its contents, especially if the container is scratched or put in the microwave. And those chemicals contain toxins that can cause cancer, impaired immune function, hyperactivity, and other health problems.
But there are safe products you can use to feed your pets. Pet bowls made of ceramic, stoneware, porcelain, and of course, stainless steel, are less porous than plastic, so they harbor less bacteria and are easier to keep clean and sanitary (remember all those stainless steel tools you see in the doctor’s office?). They also look more beautiful, for longer! Quality hand-painted stoneware, ceramic, and porcelain products are covered with lead-free glaze (always look for the “lead-free” distinction) and fired at high temperatures to create not only vibrant colors but safe, non-porous, strong, chip-resistant structure.
In Part 2 of this article, we’ll discuss more downsides of plastic pet bowls and how to keep your pet’s dishes truly sanitary.