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When I learned about the benefits of a fountain style water dish for my cats and dogs–keeping the water cleaner and moving encourages better water consumption habits for improved health–I thought any fountain dish would do.

As it turns out, despite the relative straightforward design of fountain water dishes, there are a few points to consider before purchasing a fountain water dish for your cat or dog.


Most models are designed to operate quietly, with noise levels ranging from 20 to 40 decibels. To put this into perspective, a typical conversation is around 60 decibels, and a whisper is around 30 decibels.

However, the sound of the pump is not the only point to consider. How the water flows into the dish will also make noise; a larger drop from a taller fountain style dish is going to be louder than one with a low fountain that gently rolls down into the bottom of the dish.

Also, if the water level is low, the pump may increase in noise and the sound of the water falling may become louder.

If you are concerned about the noise level, please check the product reviews. I have found this one makes almost no noise.

Cost of Filters

When selecting a fountain style water dish for your pet, don’t forget to factor in the cost of replacing filters. Many require specific shaped filters and have limited options for replacement, so it is worth knowing in advance what the upkeep costs will be for the dish.

Electrical use

The electricity usage of a water fountain style dish can vary depending on the specific model, its size, and features.

Generally, most models consume around 2 to 4 watts of electricity, which is equivalent to about 0.002 to 0.004 kilowatts per hour (kWh).

Assuming the fountain runs continuously for 24 hours, it would use between 0.048 to 0.096 kWh per day. The exact energy usage may vary depending on the fountain’s flow rate, pump size, and any additional features like lights or filters.

It’s worth noting that this level of electricity usage is considered to be very low and is unlikely to have a significant impact on your electricity bill.

Water Capacity

Most models typically hold between 50 to 70 fluid ounces of water. This allows the dish to retain enough water without needing to be refilled frequently, though the duration of that depends on consumption and rate of evaporation. Larger dishes may not be necessary for cats, as the filter and dish will need to be manually cleaned periodically. Also, pouring out the remaining water before refilling can help keep the water clearer.

For dogs or multi pet households, larger capacity dishes might be necessary. Read our post about extra large water dishes.

Cleaning Brushes

Cleaning the pump and various pieces of the fountain style dish is much easier with the appropriate sized bottle brushes. These can be used to help clean the opening of the pump where water flows out, small areas on the filter cages, and openings in the dish such as inside long necks of ‘faucet’ style fountain dishes for cats.

A set of brushes like this will cover nearly any need.


Some dishes keep most or all of the water available while circulating through the filters, but other dishes have a reservoir where the water is held out of reach of the animals and only a small amount of filtered water is available at a time. This style can work for many people, but it’s important to consider if your animal might be unattended during a power outage. This could trap most of the water out of reach until the power turns back on and the pump starts flowing again.

The shape of your pet’s face can also impact which bowl is right for them. A dog with large jowls might need a different dish than a dog with a flatter face who could benefit from having a fountain to lap from instead of submerging their face down into a water dish. 

Cats, on the other hand, may prefer a design that allows them to drink without their whiskers touching the edges of the dish. Most animals will make do with what water source is available, but when investing in a dish, it is worth considering what their specific needs might be. This will provide a better experience for them and encourage drinking more water, which has significant long term health benefits.

Last but not least, when it comes to design, a tall spout on a water dish might not be practical for dogs, as it would risk getting the top of their head wet to drink from the bowl, or require awkward messy angles to lap from the fountain. Because of this, dogs and cats might not be able to share the same water dish, depending on the style and their needs.

Wrapping Up

Currently, my dogs and cats happily share this dish.

A previous cat required the taller spout of a different dish, which was not practical for the dogs.

Even one of the other cats did not prefer the fountain and found the water bowl did not provide adequate space for drinking without getting his head wet, so continued to use a different, standard bowl instead.

Usually, finding a design that fits the pet isn’t too difficult, but considering their needs, and yours, before purchasing can make the fountain water dish a worthwhile investment.

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