There are many types of materials that are used in food and water bowls for pets. Common materials are plastic, stainless steal, glass, silicone and ceramic. Each have their upsides and downsides.
Most bowls sold are made of plastic. Always stay away from BPA and chemicals that can leach into your pets food. Most bowls are BPA free and in general food safe. However, when plastic is scratched it can be a safe harbor for bacteria. Which is why we recommend food bowls that are not plastic. Some dogs and cats also have allergies to plastic. You will see irritation on their nose when they come in continual contact with them. So that is something else to consider.
Most of our bowls are stainless steel. Now they are not the prettiest designer bowls, but at least they are safe. For our water we use DuraPet Stainless Steel Bowls. We get the 4.5 quart size as they are big enough to last an entire day. Since we have multiple dogs though we do still have to fill it up twice a day. A smaller bowl will result in more refills a day. A lot of people use automatic water feeders, but we like to make sure our bowls are always clean. We also like Durapet bowls for water because they have a rubber liner on the bottom that helps with the bowl moving across the room as they drink out of it. After continual use you may see rusting, so that is a downside of steel.
For food we use Bowlmates Round Bases. They are a melamine product, however you can buy stainless steal inserts for them. These bowls do have designs on the outside. Each of our dogs have their own design. They know which one is theirs. They are easily available and can be found at Petco. Now a word of caution, is that the Bowlmates can break. I accidentally kicked one across the room and it did shatter.
Ceramic can be a great option. It doesn’t easily scratch and is easy to clean. They are breakable however if dropped, even more so than Bowlmates. A quick look at amazon you can find many ceramic bowl options. I do have a ceramic bowl for my cat. However after years of use I have seen a bit of warping in the bowl as if it’s etching the ceramic from water. That’s something to keep in mind.
Glass can be useful and kept clean, however they can be very noisy and very breakable. So we don’t use glass bowls.
Now sometimes you might have to use other bowls for various situations. I do have two fast eaters. They gobble their food as fast as they can. To slow them down I bought two bowls in different colors. We use Wangstar Slow Feed Dog Bowls. Since we offer multiple feeding during the day, they are large enough for our dogs meals. If you only do one meal a day, then it might be too small for large dogs. DuraPet Stainless Steel Slow Feed Bowl is another option if you wanted to stick to stainless steel. However, the DuraPet bowls don’t slow my dogs down enough.
Some dogs may need elevated bowls. Some dogs need an elevated bowl because they have bad joints. Elevated dog bowls help with better posture, they can be more comfortable for your dog, and sometimes can decrease gas as they swallow less air. Sometimes an elevated dog bowl can also prevent dogs from stepping in their bowls. Although I know many dogs who still love to dance in their water bowls even though it’s elevated.