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All dogs need plenty of water in order to stay healthy and hydrated through the day.
For some owners, it is more than enough to put out a bowl of water beside the food dish and leave it at that. As far as they are concerned, as long as the water is topped up and accessible, there is no issue with the dog getting enough to drink.
However, there are those that are not keen on the idea of too much standing water left in the home because of the risk of contamination, dust and other irritants. This is where a dog water dispenser is preferable, as they can provide a clean supply of filtered water as the dog requires it.
The question for newcomers is simple – which is the best dog water dispenser?
In this guide to the best types of water dispenser for dogs we will look at some of the different styles that are on the market.
We will start with the fountains that provide running water in devices of varying sizes and within varying materials. Here will we look at the benefits of this approach and the pros and cons associated with those different types of materials: plastic, metal and ceramic.
Then we will look at the gravity-activated dispensers and the different styles here, before finishing with a couple of oddities in the cage dispenser and automated model. Along the way, we will look at specific products and their key features, as well as some related considerations about the style of product, safety issues and additional features.
Table of Contents
There are many that prefer the idea of the water fountain over the more typical water dispensers. This comes down to two important factors.
Firstly, they are generally more attractive, with a nice design and the pleasant flow of water, rather than a large tank attached to a plastic bowl. This means that they tend to fit into a room with greater ease.
The other reason is the quality of the water. The flowing water is attractive because of its health benefits. This is seen in the lack of free-standing water, which can become contaminated, and the way that the movement bring in more oxygen and freshness to the water. Finally, there is also the fact that dogs are naturally drawn to running water over still water. They like the movement and can engage with it on another level.
The only potential problem with the even the best dog water fountains is that it can take some time for animals to get used to this new form of drinking, especially if they are used to their own bowl. The running water may mean that they take to this more easily than a dispenser.
However, you do need to be careful that the water is not too fast and noisy, as this can put some off. When training your dog to drink from them, this needs to be the only available source of water. However, you cannot restrict access for too long. Encourage them in and reward them for their efforts, but don’t force things and expect them to be lapping up the water within the hour.
The material of these water fountains is important as there are different choices with different pros and cons.
The first material to look at here is plastic. This is because it is one of the more accessible and popular choices for anyone that it looking for a standard affordable model. Some will want to steer clear of plastic for fear of chemicals and safety concerns. As long as the fountain is well made with all the right components, and the plastic is safe, there shouldn’t be much concern here.
One of the first things to look for is a model with BPA-free plastic. Most of the best dog water fountains should provide this. This simply means that there aren’t those nasty chemicals that can leach out into the water. Also, if it says that it is dishwasher safe, it is probably safe to use.
There are many plastic fountains out there at different capacities and with different designs and features.
A good starting point for many newcomers is the Drinkwell Original Pet Fountain, with its 50 oz water capacity for small dogs. A nice benefit here is the use of the adjustable flow control knob and carefully designed receiving ramp that reduces splashes and sound of falling water.Buy On Amazon
A bigger option is the Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain, with its 168 oz water capacity for a wider range of animals.Buy On Amazon
The Drinkwell Big Dog Fountain is the largest at a 2.25 gallon water capacity.Buy On Amazon
Buyers will note that all of these options above come from a brand called PetSafe. This is a definite go-to brand when it comes to pet appliances as they have a wide range of options in the US market and have been manufacturing goods since 1991.
They are respected for their use of materials and good designs. They are a great place to start in any search for dog-friendly items, but they are not the only option. There are plenty of competitors with similar, or more interesting options out there. Some of these will be mentioned below.
The first alternative material to look at here is the metal water fountain. This option is likely to be made from stainless steel and immediately gives a sense of a safer, more sterile drinking surface. It should be easy to clean and maintain, with the chance of improved longevity over plastic models, which may crack and break with heavy handling.
A stainless steel model may remind us of our drinking fountains from our school days, but if we are happy to let kids drink from them, there should be no issue for our dogs.
A good example of this is the Pioneer Pet Raindrop Stainless Steel Pet Drinking Fountain. Again this model focuses on that idea of appealing, circulating drinking water and safe water supplies. The difference is the use of the dishwasher safe, high grade stainless steel material. They say that this allows for easy cleaning, but it is also better looking. The bowl has a 60 oz capacity and a replaceable charcoal filter.
Unfortunately, there are issues with the longevity of pump, but this is a nice low capacity for smaller dogs with a quiet, pleasant approach.Buy On Amazon
The next material to look at here is the porcelain/ceramic item. In many cases, this is actually a plastic pump and inner working with a porcelain bowl. It gives the fountain a more expensive feel for some, because it is a weighty, reliable material compared to a flimsy plastic. Others may see this as a stepping stone from dogs drinking from a porcelain toilet to drinking from a more hygienic porcelain bowl in the kitchen. Either way, they can look good.
Going back to Pioneer, we have their Pet Big Max Ceramic Drinking Fountain. It is called the big max because it can hold over a gallon of water and is suitable for bigger dogs.Buy On Amazon
Alternatively, there is the PetSafe Drinkwell Ceramic Pagoda Pet Fountain. This is smaller, with the 70 oz capacity, but it does also offer a lower dish for two drinking areas for pets.Buy On Amazon
With many of the models that have been highlighted above with the metal, plastic and porcelain fountains, there has only been one point of access. The bowl of water tends to form a semi-circle around the base, catching the water that trickles down from the above.
The 360 degree models change all of that by providing access from all angles. The water spills over a circular outlet into a circular bowl. This makes the fountain more appealing to dogs and of more use in homes with multiple dogs to cater for.
The first option here is the Dogit Design Fresh and Clear Dog Drinking Fountain. This model is appealing because of the large surface area that brings in even more oxygen to water. There is also a multi-stage filtration system that absorbs impurities and collects unwanted particles.Buy On Amazon
In additon to this, there is the similar Dogit Fresh & Clear Drinking Fountain for Large Dogs. This has an elevated drinking basin with an integrated splash guard for larger animals and the same 360-degree rotating dome.Buy On Amazon
Then there is the Drinkwell 360 Pet Fountain. This is much like the models above, as it is is made of BPA-free plastic and has similar benefits. Yet, it also has a replaceable carbon water filter. foam filter and an adjustable free-falling stream to suit a dog’s preferences.Buy On Amazon
These replenish bowls do things differently. The tank of water are attached upside down, allowing gravity to take the water past the filter and fill up the bowl as required. Makers say that this is the ideal approach for pet sitting and trips away because it is so easy to use and refill. This can depend on the capacity of the tank and design of the individual products.
The first example to look at here is the Petmate Replendish Gravity Waterer, with its Microban tech and advanced water filtration system. This product promises to remove all kinds of particles and chemicals for clean, healthy water.Buy On Amazon
Another fun model from this brand is the Petmate Mason Replendish Waterer, which looks like a cute mason jar and would fit in with many modern home designs. Users just need to be aware that the lid doesn’t open and it takes a little more effort than that to refill.Buy On Amazon
Then there is the PetSafe Healthy Pet Water Station, with the removeable stainless steel bowl, 1 gallon capacity and water flow control valve.Buy On Amazon
Finally there is the Flexzion Pet Water Dispenser Station with Microban. This is much like the models above in style and function. However, there are some nice details that add to the appeal, such as the recessed handles for transportation and non-slip feet.Buy On Amazon
You will have noticed that there is a lot of mention of the filtration systems in these dispensers and the use of Microban. Both factors are there to ensure that buyers receive a high quality product that is as safe as possible for their animals.
Filtration is important with any top quality water dispenser for dogs. The majority will use some form of activated carbon to absorb the worse of the impurities and keep the water fresh.
It is important to remember that these filter will need to be replaced and could be costly. It may be better to go for the same brand and spend more for quality and safety than to go cheaper and decrease the water quality. Also be aware that some are of better quality than others and the cheaper ones could leak a little.
As for the Microban tech, this is an antimicrobial property built into the materials. In theory, this should protect the bowl from bacteria and stains for a long time to come. This simple additional feature adds that extra level of security to the product for peace of mind.
Then there are those that will like the sound of the automatic dispenser for water.
These machines ensure that water is released from the large tank as and when it is required for a reliable source of water. There are some that will see this as a must-have item and an improvement on some of the models mentioned above.
Automated always suggests that something is easier to use and that there are additional benefits. However, it should be noted that there isn’t that much to these machines that make them that much better than the gravity operated ones. Some would argue that gravity is more reliable than electronics – with the right filters and openings. Also, these automatic water dispensers are much more expensive. It is questionable whether or not they are really worth it.
One of the more interesting examples of this is the Automatic Water Bowl for Dogs 6.5 Gallons By Critter Concepts. This is another large dog water dispenser that comes in sizes of 3.5, 5.0 and 6.5 gallon. There are lots of nice features here, such the locking transport wheels and the FDA approved, food grade water container. They also claim that it is virtually indestructible.
The problem is that there are two major issues here. Firstly, it is pretty expensive compared to the dispensers above. Secondly, it is the most ugly-looking model mentioned in this guide.Buy On Amazon
The final style to look at here is another oddity. It is important to include it in this guide to highlight the variety of the models on offer. Yet, there are some serious shortcomings here that make the others seem more appealing.
These drip dispensers fit onto a cage for a supply of water when dogs are on the move. They can be an essential source of water on a long journey – providing they work well and have a good capacity. However, there is no need for them in the home when these other fountains and dispensers are available. There is little point having one on a crate when a fountain is more reliable.
The example we are looking at here is the Pet Drinking Fountains Dog Water Dispenser Dog Kettle. There are some benefits to this approach in the circumstances above, and it is suitable for small to medium-sized dogs.
The problems are that this dual-use, bar type ball bottle only holds 300ml. It is also a bit too cheap and too easy to chew on – so it probably wont last long.Buy On Amazon
It can seem as though there are many different options and consideration in buying a water dispensing device for dogs. This is true if we place the water dispenser for dog cage vs the dog water dispenser with automated functions and have all those fountains and devices in between.
There are small dog water fountains and ones for big dogs. There are models with different shapes and effects on the water and different materials. The only elements that remain constant are the effects to provide safe materials, a reliable function and good filtration. This means that there should be something out there to suit most needs.
Even so, it is easy to turn to the water fountain over the gravity-assisted option as the best dog water dispenser type here. The motion of the flow, the quality of the drinking water and the designs are all that little bit more appealing over the more restrictive dispensers. This is especially true with the ceramic and 360 degree models.
In the end, the final decision is always down to the owner. Take your time to research options, understand precisely how it works (and how to fix it if it struggles) and make sure to be patient with your pet as they learn to use it.
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