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Help for Dogs Allergic to Plastic Bowls

There are many dogs allergic to plastic bowls, but the allergy may not be clearly associated with he plastic bowl. This causes many dogs to have skin issues that go untreated since the root cause is never discovered. Allergies to plastic bowls in dogs are a real thing, but fortunately solving the issue is rather easy.

Among the vast array of things dog may be allergic to, dogs allergic to plastic bowls are not uncommon. 

 Dogs with allergies to plastic bowl tend to  develop telltale signs such as lesions on their chin and lips from contact with the bowl. 

If you suspect your dog is allergic to plastic bowls, removing the bowls is often the most obvious option, but persistent cases despite the change may require a trip to the vet. 

Surprisingly, not always the lesions on a dog's chin or lips are indicative of an allergy to plastic bowls, rather, there may be other culprits going on. Veterinary evaluation is the best course of action, so to treat the lesions accordingly.

dogs allergic to plastic bowls

A dog allergic to plastic bowls is not uncommon. 

A Rare Allergy

There are have been lots of rumors of dogs being allergic to plastic bowls, but in most cases, the actual lesions turn out being something else.

Veterinarian Dr. Michael Salkin, explains that while allergies to plastic are something worthy of considering, in most cases, after taking a biopsy of the skin, it turns out that the lesions are actually caused by something else such as an infection or an immune mediated skin disease.

It's therefore important having any lip or chin lesions assessed by a vet or veterinary dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. 

More than an allergy to the plastic bowls per se, a possible cause for a dog to develop skin acne is from the bacteria that may grow on the porous structure of the plastic itself.

According to Animal Hospital of North Asheville, plastic can be easily scratched and the small crevices can harbor food particles and bacteria over time. 

Dogs may therefore develop skin issues in the areas of their face that make contact with with food bowls that aren't kept clean as necessary. 

In such cases, it might be a better option to use non-porous bowls such as bowls made out of materials such stainless steel, glass or ceramic.

" At the last dermatology conference I attended it was mentioned that although "allergy to plastic" is something to be considered when our dogs develop lesions on their lips and/or chins, when we look at these lesions closely (often biopsying them) we find that in most all cases the lesions are due to something other than allergy..."~ Dr. Salkin

Dog Chin Acne Causes

food bowl dog

Chin acne in dogs is medically known as muzzle folliculitis. 

The term muzzle is used to depict the protruding area of the dog's face, including the nose and mouth, while the term folliculitis depicts the inflammation of the dog's hair follicle, the small cavity from which each hair sprouts.

 There are several short, bristle-like hairs in the dog's chin area and problems start when the follicles of these hairs become prone to inflammation.

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The inflammation can be triggered by minor daily trauma when the dog's chin rubs directly on certain surfaces, explains Dr. Ian B. Spiegel, a board-certified veterinarian specializing in veterinary dermatology in an article for DVM360..

Other potential causes include inflammatory disease caused by the demodex mite, autoimmune diseases, skin yeast infections, allergies and metabolic disorders. 

Often, a course of oral or topical antibiotics and medicated wipes containing chlorhexidine may help out.

A Process of Elimination

If you truly suspect your dog has developed lesions from eating from a plastic bowl, you can always remove the bowl and replace it with another bowl made of a non-porous material such as stainless steel.

 On top of being non-porous, stainless steel bowls offer many advantages such as being durable, easy to clean and resistant to being scratched. Many have a heavy non-skid bottom so dogs can't drag them around. 

By removing the potential source of trouble, you may deduce if you were really dealing with a problem related to the plastic bowl. After all, that is how a potential intolerance, sensitivity or allergy is diagnosed, by removing the potential culprit and assessing how it goes.

So you can therefore try to remove the plastic water and food bowls and see how it goes. Perhaps you may want to also remove any toys or other items that are made out of plastic and that your dog interacts with frequently.

If after 2 weeks of not using plastic, you notice that the skin around your dog's chin is actually healing, then that would likely be indicative that the plastic was the actual trigger, explains veterinarian Dr. BJ Hughes.

A Recent Study Shows Dangers of Dog Bowls

A recent study at Hartpury University has revealed that dog water bowls may be a breeding ground for dangerous germs that could put a dogs' and humans' health at risk. 

Among the potentially fatal bacteria individualized, worthy of mentioning were E.coli, salmonella and MRSA bacteria. 

According to the researchers, plastic, stainless steel and ceramic bowls were all found to host an array of bacteria. 

The ceramic bowl in particular was found to host the highest number of harmful bacteria, however displayed the lowest bacterial count. This may be suggestive of bacteria being able to adhere more easily to ceramic bowls. 

Copper, should be studied due to this materials' antimicrobial properties and potential to reduce the risk of zoonotic transmission.

However, the good news according to the study is that a good hygiene implementation involving a daily cleaning regime could reduce the number of potential infections from these bacteria.

Did you know? Previous research conducted by Donofrio et al. (2012) found that a dog's water bowl ranked third place among the most contaminated items within a household. The first place was held by kitchen sponges, while toothbrush holders ranked second.


  • Animal Hospital of North Asheville, What is the best food bowl for my pet?
  • DVM360: Just Ask the Expert: How do you manage canine chin acne?
  • Wright, C., & Carroll, A. (2018). Microbiological Assessment of Canine Drinking Water and the Impact of Bowl Construction Material. Poster session presented at 69th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science, Dubrovnik, Croatia.
  • Donofrio, R.S., Bechanko, R., Hitt, N., O’Malley, K., Charnauski, T., Bestervelt, L.L., Saha, R. and Saha, N. (2012) Are We Aware of Microbial Hotspots in Our Household? Journal of Environmental Health [Online]. 75 (2), pp. 12-19. [Accessed 27 September 2017].

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