DEADLY bugs have been found lurking in dog drinking bowls.

Dog bowl

Deadly bugs have been found lurking in dog drinking bowls (Image: NC)

Potentially lethal E.coli, salmonella and MRSA thrive in many of the different types of pets’ dishes being commonly sold across the country, putting both animal and human health at risk, say researchers.

Plastic and ceramic bowls provide a more dangerous breeding ground for the potentially harmful bacteria than ones made from stainless steel.

Scientists today warned for the need of “suitable cleaning regimes” for the bowls which are suspected of being the third most contaminated item in any household.

The threat posed by dogs’ bowls has been uncovered by researchers from Hartpury University.

Animal Science lecturer Aisling Carroll and BSc Bioveterinary Science graduate Coralie Wright have been investigating how much the build-up of bacteria can be affected by the material a bowl is made from and how often it is cleaned.

Ms Carroll said: “It is clear from our study that dog water bowls pose a disease risk to both human and animal health.

“The increasingly close contact between humans and their pets is leading to concerns regarding bacterial transmission of zoonoses – infectious diseases that be transmitted between animals and humans.

“The dog water bowl has previously been identified as the third most contaminated item within the household, which suggests that they are capable of disease transmission.”

Aisling Carroll with her dog Heidi

Aisling Carroll with her dog Heidi at Hartpury University (Image: NC)

During this latest research, the scientists looked at how popular plastic and ceramic bowls can each play different roles in harbouring notorious bacteria.

Ms Carroll said: “The aim of our study was to identify whether the material – plastic, ceramic or stainless steel – and length of use of a dog’s water bowl influences the quantity and species of bacteria present.

“Our research suggests the significant increase of bacteria found in dog water bowls with length of use demonstrates the need for suitable cleaning regimes.

“We found the highest amount of bacteria in plastic bowls over time, but the most harmful bacterial species, including E.coli and MRSA, were most frequently identified in the ceramic bowls.

“While further research is required to assess the most suitable bowl materials and cleaning practices, it is clear from our study that dog water bowls pose a disease risk to both human and animal health.”

Seven years ago the National Science Foundation in the United States conducted a "Germiest Places in the Home" study, asking families to swab 30 everyday household items to measure contamination from yeast, mould and coliform bacteria, which include salmonella and E.coli.

The results highlighted the misconception that toilets were the dirtiest places.

Kitchens were found to harbour the most germs, with positive swabs for coliform, an indicator of faecal contamination, turning up on 75 per cent of sponges and rags, 45 per cent of sinks and 32 per cent of counter tops.

E.coli was found in the pet bowls from two homes, but less than one per cent of all other surfaces.

The new investigation into drinking bowls is among a number of animal welfare related studies being conducted at Hartpury University.

Hartpury University has more than 1,650 students completing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees as well as higher education diplomas and postgraduate research in sport, equine, animal, agriculture and veterinary nursing.