Can Cats and Dogs Drink from the Same Water Bowl?

Can Cats and Dogs Drink from the Same Water Bowl

Some cats and dogs enjoy a special bond at home, especially if they have been living together since they were young. They can enjoy each other’s company, cuddle together, and even share the same toys.

But can they share the same water bowl?

If your furry companions are used to sharing resources or belongings with one another, then they probably will not mind drinking from the same water bowl. However, there are both pros and cons to consider if you decide to have your pets share a bowl.

So, before purchasing that large-sized bowl you have been eyeing at the pet store, make sure you understand the good and the bad sides of using the same bowl for your pets!

Cats and dogs have different water needs

As pet owners, we all know the importance of providing our furry friends with clean, fresh water to keep them hydrated. Our pets need free access to water in order to regulate their body temperature, aid proper digestion, lubricate their joints, flush wastes from their systems, and many other vital functions.

But, if you have both cats and dogs living under your roof, you might be wondering if it is okay for them to share things like water bowls. After all, it is true that every animal has different water needs to stay healthy. Factors like body size, age, health status, activity level, and environmental temperature all affect our pets’ drinking habits. 

In general, dogs require about an ounce of water per pound of body weight daily. Cats, on the other hand, need 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of water per five pounds of body weight. For example, if your dog weighs 25 pounds, this means he is going to need about 25 ounces of water per day. If your feline friend weighs 10 pounds, she will require about nine ounces of water daily.

So ideally, dogs consume more water than their feline counterparts. If they share the same water bowl, your dog might not leave enough water for your cat to drink. Therefore, the water bowl must be big enough for both pets.

The only problem with this approach is that cats are a bit fussy when it comes to their drinking bowls. Often, our whiskered friends struggle to drink from bowls that are too deep, since they hate getting their faces and whiskers wet. Cats also prefer drinking clean and fresh water, so if they see tiny bits of food leftovers in the bowl, they will likely avoid drinking from it.

So, can cats and dogs share the same water bowl?

Yes, as long as both of your pets are comfortable and familiar with each other’s scent. If your cat and dog live in harmony, then sharing a water bowl should be any cause for concern.

However, some cats and dogs might not be comfortable sharing their resources, even though they are accustomed to living together. Sometimes, dogs can be dominant and will see their feline sibling as a rival. This can cause aggression and fights between your two pets.

Cats, on the other hand, can be fussy when it comes to the cleanliness of their drinking bowls. If they disapprove of sharing their belongings with another pet, they might become aggressive and vocal. If your cat is intact, she may display destructive behaviors like spraying and scratching to mark her territory.

Hence, before you decide to let your cat and dog share the same water bowl, make sure that you know their personalities very well. Never force them to share resources if they do not feel comfortable.  

Lastly, keep in mind that dogs can be messy drinkers. And, because cats do not like their bowls dirty, they might refrain from drinking after a dog has used the bowl. Hence, if you decide to let your pets share the same bowl, it should be cleaned regularly and refilled with clean water.

Is it safe for pets to drink from the same water bowl?

Sharing the same water bowl is generally safe for your pets, provided both animals are healthy. However, if one of your pets contracts a contagious disease, then obviously it would be best for them not to share the same bowl.

Some of the diseases that can be readily spread from dogs to cats (or vice versa) are:

1. Rabies

Rabies is a fatal disease that can rapidly spread to your pets through the saliva of a rabid animal. If your pets like playing outdoors, it is important to know their whereabouts to ensure that they are not exposed to this virus. Vaccination is the best prevention, so make sure that all your pets are vaccinated to protect them from the disease.

2. Parasites

Both cats and dogs groom themselves by licking their bums. If one of your pets is infected with intestinal parasites, they will likely spread the parasite eggs through their mouth. Hence, common water bowls can be an excellent medium to pass these worms from one host to another.

3. Viral or bacterial diseases

Bordetella bronchiseptica, commonly known as kennel cough, is a highly infectious respiratory disease that can be transmitted to a cat by an infected dog (or vice versa). Humans can get the disease, too, through their infected pets. Some of the common symptoms include sneezing, coughing, high body temperature, and loss of appetite. Luckily, you can protect your pets from this disease by having them vaccinated.

How often should you clean the water bowl?

Bowls can easily become a breeding ground for bacteria, especially when shared by multiple pets. Certain microbes and parasites found in your pets’ mouths can also spread quickly through their water bowls. Salmonella and E. coli are two of the common bacteria that thrive in dirty bowls and can make your pets sick.

To keep your furry friends safe and healthy, their food and water bowls must be cleaned regularly. All you need is detergent and hot water to kill any pathogens in the bowl.

Water fountains are also a great alternative, being more hygienic and convenient for your pets. These water sources are also not easily contaminated, unlike traditional water bowls. Furthermore, cats are drawn to running water, so having a water fountain will encourage them to drink more. 

Best water bowl for cats

Bowls made of stainless steel are considered the most hygienic for your pets. Aside from being durable and lead-free, stainless steel bowls are also easier to clean than plastic ones.

The second best choice is a ceramic bowl, because these are made of non-porous materials, will not hold onto bacteria, and are super easy to clean. These bowls are also a bit heavier, making them more stable if your dog tends to push the bowl around the floor while drinking.

Whether you choose a stainless steel or a ceramic bowl, remember that size and shape matters, too. For example, cats prefer drinking from bowls that are slightly elevated from the floor, but not so deep that they will get their precious whiskers wet. 


Although cats and dogs can safely share the same water bowl, the best practice is to provide them with separate bowls that they can easily access at any time. Keep in mind that cats can be fussy when it comes to their food and water bowls, so it might not always be a good idea to have them share bowls with your messy pups!

Image: / chendongshan