When you wake up in the morning and run your tongue over your teeth, chances are you might feel some type of film. What you're feeling is a type of biofilm that is present in combination with the plaque on your teeth. If you allow this to go un-checked and opt to skip brushing, you will eventually start to have some issues with not only your oral health but other bodily systems. In order to prevent such issues, we brush, floss, and use mouthwash. This is great for us, but biofilm is present in a lot of other areas that impact not only us but also our rabbit dogs.
Have you ever picked up your rabbit dogs' water bowls just to notice the presence of a slimy film? This is just another example of biofilm. Since water bowls have all the desirable traits necessary for the growth of bacteria, this is a common place for biofilm to form. The bacteria themselves secrete a sticky substance that is responsible for the slimy texture you feel. Inside of this slime, bacteria grow and breed while remaining protected and safe, sticking in place thanks to that very same secreted substance.
Although your rabbit dogs may drink from bowls with biofilm present, they should not be allowed to do so. Instead, water bowls need to be washed on a daily basis to remove these bacteria so they are unable to harm your dog. The bacteria growing in the bowl can quite literally be from just about anywhere because as your dog drinks, he or she infuses the water with bacteria from wherever his mouth has been. In other words, if your dog licks or eats something funky he or she found while out hunting rabbit, bacteria from that funky thing are now growing and multiplying in his or her water bowl. From there, bacteria can cause microbial infections within the body. These include bladder infections, urinary tract infections, middle-ear infections, and the like, all of which are much better prevented in the first place.
Photo: A Love of Dogs
In order to rid your dog's bowls of biofilm, there are a few steps you can take. First and foremost you want to use bowls that are less favorable environments for bacteria to grow. Plastic bowls are friends of bacteria because they are harder to clean and can scratch, giving bacteria nooks and crannies in which to attach themselves. Opt for stainless steel bowls instead; these will still get film, but are easier to clean and keep clean longer.
Since it does not take long at all for biofilm to develop, daily washing is necessary. This is especially important when it comes to outdoor bowls in humid, hot weather. While you're at it, wash those food bowls, too, as bacteria can grow in there as well. When washing, keep in mind that you, too, can be affected by biofilm if it makes its way onto your clean plates and silverware, so wash dog bowls a safe distance away. That said, however, it is possible to wash dog bowls in the dishwasher with your own dishes. Just be sure to run the sanitizing cycle as the heat will kill any bacteria present. Another option for sanitizing bowls is to use bleach diluted at a ratio of one tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water. Submerge bowl into this mixture and soak, rinse with clean water, then allow it to air dry.
If you've let bowl washing go for a while, you may find that a bit of biofilm accumulation is present. In some cases, this can be hard to remove. Soap alone won't get it; the application of elbow grease and a coarse scrubbing utensil may be necessary. Just be sure that any sponges you use to scrub away biofilm are not then used on your own personal dishes or any other surface you wish to clean as transfer of bacteria is possible.
When it comes to ridding your dog bowls of biofilm, a little extra cleaning time is well worth it. Rather than spend time and money at the vet dealing with health problems while wasting time that could be spent hunting rabbit, fight biofilm at the source with some bleach and/or the heat cycle on your dishwasher. Your rabbit dogs will thank you.
Have you ever had a health problem as a result of biofilm on dog bowls? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments!