TIL My Dog's Bowl Is A Teeming Cesspool

Making my usual rounds of food-safety news, germ news, ways-kitchens-can-kill-us news, I came across a tidbit that gave me pause: Apparently, my dog's bowl is one of the grossest, filthiest objects in my house.

This news, courtesy of NSF International (the public health standards people), perhaps shouldn't come as a shock. After all, my dog sometimes licks her butt as a cute little pre-dinner ritual, then dives into her mound of kibble. And I rarely clean the stainless-steel dish, let alone sanitize it. Maybe I give it a little wash every month or so? Now I begin to fret: Oh crap, I'm a bad dog mom and a disgusting housekeeper.

The NSF report indicates dogs' bowls are likely dirtier than faucet handles, countertops, and even cutting boards. Accordingly, I should be washing the bowl daily with hot water and soap, and sanitizing with diluted bleach once a week. (Yeah, I've definitely never done the latter.) I do move her food bowl outside the back door during the warmer parts of the year, which I guess helps keep those germs out of my house. But what about her water bowl? That's always placed at the edge of my kitchen, which I'm now realizing brings her germs precariously close to the spaces where I cook food.

What I'm curious to know is whether the germy dog bowl is just an inevitability, like icky kitchen sponges, or whether it's normal behavior to wash your dog's bowl on the regular. Takeout readers with puppers, please set me straight on this. I don't want to be Pig-Pen but I also don't need to add one more cleaning chore to my ever-growing to-do list.