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Question DetailsAsked on 5/5/2011

Do plastic Food and Water Dishes Pose Health Threat for animals?

According to my vet, plastic feeding bowls can leach toxins harmful to our pets. This past year, she told me about two cats with small pus-filled scabs under their chins. She suggested that their owners switch to glass or ceramic bowls, and said that seemed to solve the problem. During my cats last checkup she indicated that other vets in the clinic had seen this problem and that it had been discussed at a recent veterinary meeting she attended. I now use only ceramic dishes for the cats.

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13 Answers


Very interesting. Thanks for getting the information out there. Hmmm.....kind of makes you wonder what plastic ware is doing to us humans???

Answered 7 years ago by OhioRose


My internist suggested that I not use plastic containers to reheat any food in the microwave.

Answered 7 years ago by aircarl


It's more than likely a true allergic reaction to the plastic rather than toxins leaching into the water (otherwise the problems would have been on the inside as well as the outside of the cat, right?). FYI, the general "don't microwave stuff in plastic" and "don't drink from plastic" myths appear to have been debunked long ago. However, when heating anything in plastic, just make sure the device is "microwave safe".

Answered 7 years ago by fuzzybunnies


[quote user="fuzzybunnies"]It's more than likely a true allergic reaction to the plastic rather than toxins leaching into the water (otherwise the problems would have been on the inside as well as the outside of the cat, right?).

The scabby chin is feline acne. I went through this about a year ago - not just the usual black specks on the chin, but actual pus-filled lumps that would burst, scab over, & fill up again - on 2 of my 4 cats at once, and a 3rd had a lesser case. GROSS! What I've heard is that the plastic can't be completely cleaned and harbors the bacteria. Ceramic & stainless will clean more thoroughly. But just switching dishes didn't clear ours up - I had to apply nolvasan (cleaner) and an antibiotic cream from my vet 2x every day. When I ran out I switched to benzoil peroxide wipes for the final wrap-up (cut into quarters & keep the extra in a baby food jar, with a couple extra drops of water if it seems to dry out). Now I use ceramic bowls (got a bunch of cheap stoneware bowls on sale at Walgreens) and change them after every feeding, 2x a day. Just lately I've felt some scabs again on the chin (so it's obviously not just plastic bowls) but it hasn't gotten bad like last year, and I have the benzoil peroxide wipes on hand just in case.

BTW, 3 of the cats are 14, and I've had 2 of them all their lives, using plastic dishes all that time, and last year after 13 years we had the first problem. So it's not like plastic in and of itself is the kiss of death - it appears more like if this bacteria enters the household, or the cats' immune systems go downhill (but why in 3 cats at once? so I think this is less likely - though the one young cat was the one with no problem) or whatever the trigger is, THEN using plastic will become a problem.


Answered 7 years ago by Anne


There is actually a lot of news recently on chemical leeching from plastic bottles. This site has an informative breakdown on the different types of plastics and potential hazards. I think there was even a report on NPR recently but I haven't been able to dig it up.

Answered 8 years ago by ranunculus


Interesting site! Plastics have not only come up as environmentally unsafe for pets but humans, too. I heard that if you put your water bottles in the freezer( warm weather months) , it expands. When you take it out and the iced water melts, it constricts and toxins are released from the bottle making it potentially harmful to the person consuming it. That was on the news.

Answered 7 years ago by elisa265


My cat has trouble with acne, around her mouth. My vet told me that it was because of the plastic bowls because they get scratches in them and bacteria can grow. Even though I scrubbed them out well, she was still having problems. Once I switched to ceramic there has been no problems. I was afraid I was going to have to buy Pro Activ for my kitty.

Answered 8 years ago by Kittykat


We have a pound puppy, five months old now. She developed "acne" also, and like you, we were advised to stop using plastic food/water containers. She is on an antibiotics and seems to be slowly improving. But you know? Who knows anymore? There is so much out there that can cause reactions that I don't know what to think. But - we'll see how this goes.

Answered 7 years ago by rambling rose


Hi Rose,

Take a look at this link - while primarily for cats, it appears that some of the links may have some information that is useful for your puppy.

Good luck

Answered 8 years ago by aircarl


Plastic food and water bowls can absolutely be to blame for this kind of contact dermatitis. In addition, plastic cannot be sterilized like ceramic or metal can be. If you can change to bowls that are not made of plastic, I think you'll see a dramatic change, and your puppy can get off the antibiotics.

Answered 7 years ago by Commonsense


I have seen other internet references to the problem and they stuck in my mind even though I don't have a cat.

As I recall, the general agreement is that some cats show an alergic reaction to the plastic which results in pimple-like bumps on the chin. Cats that showed the reaction also showed a return to normal when the feeding and water bowls were changed to a different material.

Answered 7 years ago by Old Grouch


[quote user="OhioRose"]Hmmm.....kind of makes you wonder what plastic ware is doing to us humans??? [/quote]

Probably depends on how long your chin rests on the edge of the bowl while you eat.


Answered 8 years ago by Old Grouch


Our cat had swollen lips (rodent lip) and our vet advised us to use ceramic or glass dishes and bowls. She had no further problems.

Answered 7 years ago by keikosmom

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