Preventing Algae in Pet Water Bowls

Dogs, cats, and birds need a lot of water everyday. One of the worst things you can do for your pets health is to keep topping up the water in its bowl.


The bowl of water needs to be completely poured out and rinsed out and filled with fresh water every day OR every time you fill it up or pour new water into it. I do mine at least three times a day, because we have rather large dogs.

I have three different huge pots of water laying around in different places. They are cooking pots since I prefer metal bowls to plastic ones which can harbor germs that will get into tiny microscopic holes in the plastic.

The bowls need to be washed out at least every other day, completely, with warm soap and water, rinsed and refilled.

You can recycle the leftover water into plants or out in the garden.

By Robyn Fed from Hampton, TN

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4 Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

How do I keep my dog's outside water bowl from turning green? It is a plastic bowl, used for years, and the water turns green during the summer, not the winter. What can I do?

By Deborah Schmidt


August 8, 20122 found this helpful
Best Answer

During the hot summer months, I would clean the bowl every day and give the dog fresh water. To make it easy, just take a pail of fresh water and a cloth with you when you go out to feed the dog. Keep the dog food dish clean too. I'm sure the dog would notice and appreciate it.

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August 2, 2019

I know my dog has been drinking water out his water bowl with green algae. I noticed he hides away and seems sick when he drinks this water.

Does anybody know if this is from drinking the water for certain?


August 2, 20190 found this helpful

Yes, it can make him sick. Clean out food and water dishes daily

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August 2, 20190 found this helpful

Yes it sure could be.

Different algae can release different micro organisms as it grows. Some are toxic to humans and can be fatal to animals, just depends on the "type of algae". Or, it can make animals sick, just like it can make a person sick if they were to drink icky algae water.

I don't know if you keep his water bowl outside or not, but outside, an algae called blue-green algae can be totally toxic just from ONE drink.

But just as much as it can grow in a bowl "outside" if your dog just happened to be anywhere the algae spores are, in the grass, (anywhere actually), then he could bring them back to his bowl on his fur on his face, and when he gets a drink (unknowingly) then all it takes is the introduction to water for the algae spores to take off growing.

Sometimes they're so microscopic you can't even see it. A person only sees the algae spore growths when something gets overgrown with it, like a bowl.

The truth is, your pet needs clean water every day just like me or you would too.

Their bodies aren't too much different from ours, as far as how the "insides work".

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August 2, 20190 found this helpful

I was also going to say, I have a bird fountain, and algae begins to grow in that it seems like every week, so I'm constantly scrubbing and spraying that out to keep that algae ick from even attaching, because I know I'd not want to drink it, (that's my rule of thumb) if it's not good enough for me, it's sure not for them either, even if it's for the outside birds.

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August 2, 20190 found this helpful

Blue/green algae is not only dangerous for dogs, too much can kill them.

I suggest asking the vet to check him over to make sure he has no issues that are serious after drinking tainted water.

I agree with Suz1230, if I won't drink it, I won't let any other creature drink it. It is a good rule of thumb.

If it is a plastic bowl, I suggest tossing it and starting over with a metal bowl that can withstand boiling water being used to clean at least daily or any time if it starts to look slimy or having things floating in it.

Post back with an update. Prayers for healing for your pup.

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August 2, 20190 found this helpful

Many vets recommend ceramic (or metal) bowls because these can be easily cleaned.
Do not just add fresh water; remove the bowl, scrub it thoroughly and add fresh water.
I use one of those green/blue scrubbers from Dollar Tree and this removes all the slimy stuff that is the beginning of algae.

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August 5, 20190 found this helpful

Yes it can make them very sick. Stainless steel bowls are best for resisting algae growth. You can get them at discount stores for a dollar or two. Buy a couple so you can put a used one in the dishwasher and put a fresh one out for your dog. Fill with fresh water daily.

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August 29, 20200 found this helpful

I came across this page because I was looking for solutions for the green algae that appears daily in my dogs bowls although though I clean with warm. soapy water and rinse very well and refill with fresh water. I'm just posting this because I'm disturbed at the people's answers that actually have pets I know nothing about taking care of pets apparently. If you work 11 or 12 hours you need to sacrifice 30 minutes that it would take to clean out their bowls properly oh, you should never ever ever use bleach products for yourself much less your dogs or cats, and lastly you should never leave your animals alone for 4 days who does that you shouldn't even have them. That's all I'm commenting on those are the ones that stood out significantly. You made the decision to have them take care of them like you would take care of your kids, or maybe not :-(

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September 26, 2019

We have automatic dog waters for our dogs that stay outside while we are at work; truck drivers gone 4 days out of the week. We clean the automatic waters the day we leave, but when we return on the 4th day, to bring them inside, their water bowls are turning green.

Is there something safe to put in the water, that won't hurt our dogs? For winter they have heated trays for bowls to sit on and dog heaters in both dog houses.


September 27, 20190 found this helpful

Scrub them good with bleach based cleaner then rinse well fill with water keep out of direct sunlight and avoid putting under trees that are heavy pollinators! and put a piece of copper in it like copper pipe in the waterer

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September 27, 20190 found this helpful

Making sure you have the right bowls help(ceramic & stainless).Also there bowls should be changed out daily to prevent disease and other issues.

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September 27, 20190 found this helpful

Are you using metal bowls? They seem to stay cleaner longer than plastic. I would start there.

My best suggestion is that--if possible--you have someone you trust stop over at least once a day to check on the pups. I say this will all due respect, but systems fail and having a person check, ideally once a day could avert a tragedy.

I know my example is a cat, but several years ago when cat sitting I did my TWICE daily check and one of the little guys had had a stroke between the morning and evening visits. I was able to get him to the emergency vet on the spot and get him the care he needed. Had the owner gone with a once a day or even and every other day check in, this poor guy may have suffered and passed without anyone knowing for 24 to 48 hours. That would have been awful.

So for your situation, besides checking for general health and well being, a human can see if something goes wrong with the water dispenser (clean it daily) or the food or take action if the power goes out and the back up power goes out and the heat system fails. Having eyes on the pups--even once a day--can allow action can be taken to avert tragedy.

Sending good wishes for safe travels always!

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September 27, 20190 found this helpful

Plastic does allow algae to collect in the water much faster than metal bowls do. Plus you can add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to the water to prevent algae from forming in the bowls. Apple cider vinegar will not harm the dogs at all and is very good for them. I use it here for my dogs and from time to time add a teaspoon in the little dogs food and a tablespoon in the bigger dogs food. This helps with their digestive system and also controlling fleas on them. Check it out it is a good way to keep the water clean and also healthy for your dogs.

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September 27, 20190 found this helpful

Stainless steel water bowls help resist algae growth. Also, you will need to scrub the water bowls clean and re-fill with fresh water.

Do you have a neighbor that can help once every other day to change out the water?

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September 27, 20190 found this helpful

Bowls have to be washed and refilled daily. I would hire a teenager to do it.

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September 29, 20190 found this helpful

Stainless steel bowls have been tested and proven to grow less algae than other materials. Who feeds your dogs? I assume someone must feed them daily. If not have someone come and check on their water on at least a daily basis.

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June 16, 20200 found this helpful

Is it safe to put vinegar in cat's water also?

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