One of the biggest concerns with your dog’s source of water should keeping it fresh and free from bacteria. Dog fountains and dispensers are convenient from day to day but also require frequent maintenance. All dog water dispensers will all need to be broken down and cleaned weekly, some more often. Whether they are made of ceramic, stainless steel, or plastic, they will all have places where bacteria and slime can form and potentially make your dog very sick if not maintained properly. We’ve looked at 35 dog water dispensers and fountains to compare features, ease of maintenance, the frequency that your filter will need to be changed, and how easy it is for your dog to use.
We’ve narrowed our reviews into several categories for dog water fountains and dispensers:
Top Tray Style: A dispenser/fountain with water bubbling into a tray above a reservoir below
- Reservoir below usually contains a filter
- Flatter surface area for dog to drink from
Cascade Style: Water is dispensed over a surface or above a tray that the dog drinks from
- More running water over a surface means more areas for dog to lick or drink from
- Sometimes harder to take apart
- More water exposed to air will necessitate more frequent refills
Bottle Style: A plastic bottle/water reservoir holding water that is released into a bowl as the bowl is emptied
- Water is not exposed to air all at once
- Typically does not have a filter system
- Water sits in the bowl and is not circulated
Not all dogs will like to drink from a fountain that is gurgling or noisy and some of them can get loud when the water level runs low and the motor is straining. This could easily frighten off more timid or nervous dogs.
Some dogs are extremely sensitive to plastic and get acne on their chin and jowl areas from exposure to plastic bowls and feeders. Steel and ceramic are an excellent alternative and may help alleviate or eliminate this problem altogether. Many bowls that are listed stainless steel may still rust, especially if run through the dishwasher or not cleaned and allowed to air dry properly.
Unless otherwise specified, these fountains are all for indoor use only. Buy brushes! Some companies such sell brush kits specifically for cleaning their fountains and there are bottle brushes on the market as well that will make cleaning easier. These are an excellent investment in your dog’s health and your peace of mind.