Pet Insurance policies are underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company.

Scrub pet water bowls to remove bacteria

That slime on your pet’s water bowl may be harmful. Learn more about preventing bacteria buildup from affecting your pet’s water.

Scrub pet water bowls to remove bacteria

Q:What causes the slime in my dogs’ water bowls? Is it harmful?

A:It’s called a biofilm, and it’s composed of bacteria embedded within a slime produced by the microbes themselves. Biofilms adhere to living and non-living surfaces.

When a biofilm forms on teeth, it’s called plaque. Persistent urinary tract infections often result from a biofilm that clings to the inside surface of the bladder. When an infection involves a catheter or orthopedic implant, it’s usually due to a biofilm.

Biofilms protect bacteria from the environment, including the animal’s immune system and antibiotics. Successful treatment requires exceedingly high doses of antibiotics, removal of surgical implants and other extreme measures. Therefore, veterinarians focus on preventing biofilm formation through such methods as sterile technique and short duration of catheter use, particularly with urinary catheters.

As a biofilm grows in the body, some bacteria break off and establish new infections – and new biofilms—elsewhere. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to culture bacteria in biofilms, because culture swabs usually can’t reach bacteria protected within the slime.

Whether your dogs’ water bowls are harmful depends on what kinds of bacteria are embedded in the slime. Since you don’t know what they are, play it safe by scrubbing their water bowls with detergent daily. Don’t simply swish the bowls out with water and refill them.

Besides, dogs prefer the taste of water from clean bowls.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

  • Instagram logo
  • facebook
  • tiktok
  • Twitter

No one is permitted to sell, solicit or negotiate an insurance policy without a producer license in the state in which the plan is sold, and all prospects should be directed to Figo Pet Insurance. The information contained in this website is for illustrative purposes only and coverage under any pet insurance policy is expressly subject to the conditions, restrictions, limitations, exclusions (including pre-existing conditions), and terms of the policy documentation issued by the insurer. Availability of this program is subject to each state’s approval and coverage may vary by state. Coverage underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (IAIC), a Delaware Insurance Company, 485 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022. Live Vet and the Figo Pet Cloud are separate non-insurance services unaffiliated with IAIC.

Copyright © 2015-2022 Figo Pet Insurance LLC. All rights reserved