Are Allergies to Plastic Bowls in Dogs Real?
Dr. Ivana Crnec
As advantageous as plastic bowls may be, plastic food and water bowls are not universally suitable for all dogs. Namely, some dogs may develop an allergic reaction to the plastic. Additionally, plastic bowls can become easily damaged by tenacious chewers and powerful scratchers. The indentations caused by the damage harbor harmful bacteria, which additionally aggravate the allergy problem.
Dogs Allergic to Plastic
When a dog is allergic to its food and water bowls, it is allergic to the synthetic polymer used to make the bowls. However, diagnosing plastic allergies in dogs can be challenging. This is because plastic can be found in many items used by dogs and items dogs come into contact with – toys, collars, beddings, carpets, pipes.
It should be noted that several types of plastic can be found in dog bowls. A dog may be allergic to one of them or several. The most frequently found plastics include:
· Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)
· High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
· Polypropylene (PP)
· Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
Plastic Allergy in Dogs or Something Else?
The topic of allergies to plastic bowls in dogs is increasingly popular among dog parents. More and more dog parents are concerned their pups are suffering from plastic allergies. As soon as pups develop acne on the chin and muzzle, pup parents assume is due to plastic food and water bowls.
However, this is not always the case. The medical term for chin acne in dogs is "muzzle folliculitis." A plethora of underlying causes can trigger muzzle folliculitis. Determining the right cause requires a trip to the vet's office.
You can always try to solve the problem yourself – just replace your dog's plastic bowls with bowls made of stainless steel, ceramics, or silicone. Do not expect miracles overnight. Just because your dog's acne developed instantly, do not assume they will disappear in the same manner. Healing takes time.
Use the non-plastic for at least a week and then check for improvement. If your dog was really allergic to the plastic bowl, its acne should completely heal in around two to three weeks. If the muzzle folliculitis is still present, it means you are not dealing with an allergy to plastic, and it is time to take the problem to the next level – visit a professional.
The vet will conduct a full physical examination. Then, based on the findings, the vet will perform some additional diagnostic tests and procedures.
Other Causes of Muzzle Folliculitis
As previously mentioned, the medical term for chin acne in a dog is muzzle folliculitis. The word muzzle is used to describe the canine face's protruding area – including the mouth and the nose. The word folliculitis is derived from Latin, and it translates to inflammation of hair follicles. Hair follicles are the small cavities underneath the skin from which hair strands sprout. Each follicle gives rise to one hair.
On the dog's chin, there are several short and bristle-like hairs. Muzzle folliculitis develops when those follicles become inflamed.
As mentioned, there can be some other common causes of muzzle folliculitis. Below are several other possible causes.
Minor daily trauma – dogs are not very picky when it comes to where they put their muzzles. When rubbing against certain surfaces, dogs may experience minor traumas. Those traumas, if additionally irritated, are likely to inflame and trigger the development of chin acne.
Skin infections – parasitic and yeast infections can occur anywhere on the body, including the chin. Bacterial infections are the most common. Namely, dogs love chewing and scratching. When they damage their plastic bowl, the small crevices that form on the surface are ideal for bacteria multiplication. Even if you clean the bowls thoroughly and on a daily basis, chances are you cannot reach the deepest parts of the crevices. The bacteria harbored in those crevices can cause a severe bacterial infection of the chin, mainly if there are already minor daily traumas on the chin.
Autoimmune diseases and metabolic disorders – some members of this group manifest with chin acne formation. However, these conditions are more complicated and often accompanied by a plethora of additional signs and symptoms.
Treating Dog Allergies to Plastic Bowls
Whenever something is causing trouble, the easiest solution would be to eliminate it. Luckily, in this case, the elimination is simple and straightforward – throw away your dog's plastic food and water bowls and replace them with bowls made of other material.
This solution though is efficient in the long run. In the short run, your dog's chin requires local treatment. To speed up the recovery process and make it discomfort-free, the vet will prescribe local, topic ointments usually containing antibiotics.
Applying topical treatment can be a bit challenging. Once you apply the treatment, it is advisable to keep your dog entertained for at least 10 to 15 minutes until the cream or ointment absorbs into the skin.
Based on the severity of the condition, the vet may advise cleaning the chin with medical wipes containing chlorhexidine before applying the topical treatment. More severe cases warrant oral antibiotics.
You think all dog bowls are equal? Well…guess again. Different dog bowls have different features, and some are definitely better than others. However, there is no universally acceptable dog bowl. Every dog has different needs and benefits from a different kind of bowl.
If your dog is allergic to plastic, luckily, the market offers a plethora of bowl options – from ceramic through stainless steel to silicone. If in doubt over which one fits your dog's needs best, consult with the sales professional at your local pet store.
About the Author
Dr. Ivana Crnec is a graduate of the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia.