Buying Guide

Water, Water Everywhere… A Guide to Choosing the Right Pet Fountain


There was a time in the not so distant past when most pet owners wouldn’t think twice about a simple bowl of water for their pet’s hydration. If the number of pet fountains on the market is any indication, those days are well and truly over. The question is, which of the hundreds of possible options is the best investment for you?

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you make a purchase:

Plastic, Stainless Steel or Ceramic

The material the fountain is made from is, oddly enough, a big consideration. Plastic fountains tend to be the least expensive, but a word of caution, they can be almost impossible to keep thoroughly clean. The Petmate Fresh Fountain in particular includes a deep well where the pump sits, this makes cleaning the pump and the well tricky. Keeping these kinds of units clean is so problematic there are actual kits with special brushes made just for the task. Bacterial growth in fountains can lead to anything from relatively innocuous acne outbreaks to stomach and intestinal ailments, so cleanliness is vital.

The most obvious benefit of either ceramic or stainless steel fountains is that both are more hygienic and easier to clean. In fact, many have bowls that can be popped into the dishwasher. Obviously the pump will still need to be hand cleaned, so it’s important to make certain it’s easily accessible and removable. Drinkwell offers both stainless steel and ceramic models that are easy to keep sanitary, but don’t offer much in the way of a reservoir so they’ll need to be refilled more often.

Charcoal Filtration

Almost every pet fountain on the market uses a variety of charcoal filtration, and you’re going to need to replace those filters roughly every four to six weeks. A good idea before buying a filter, either online or off, is to find out how much the filters cost and whether or not they’re easy to obtain. One of the worst feelings in the world is investing in a pricey new fountain only to have it (and its filters) be discontinued. If you notice a price reduction on the filters, it’s wise to think twice about purchasing the unit. It’s not always an indicator that the filters and/or unit will be discontinued soon but it should make you suspicious.

Aside from how easy the filters are to obtain, the most important question is how expensive they are. Even the most inexpensive fountain can, in the long term, end up costing you a fortune if you’re not careful. Work out a good ballpark figure for the overall cost of filters for one year and add it to the cost of the fountain to get a more realistic idea of what you’ll be paying. And bear in mind that filters may need to be changed more frequently if they become clogged with fur or food debris.


When it comes to fountains there are two sizes to consider, the size of the bowl your pet will drink from and the size of the reservoir. Large dogs will, unsurprisingly, require a bigger unit than your average cat, so choose the bowl size appropriate for your pet. If you have multiple pets, use your largest pet as your guide.

Reservoir size will depend upon, again, the size of your pet, how many pets will be using the fountain, and how often you’ll need to refill it. If you travel or spend a good deal of time away from home, a large reservoir can be a lifesaver. A secondary consideration in terms of reservoir is whether or not it’s visible. A visible reservoir will make keeping water at the proper level even easier. You don’t want to have to rely on an angrily buzzing pump to let you know when you need to refill it.

When it comes to fountains, bigger can often be better, but bear in mind that smaller animals may find a large fountain intimidating, at least at first. This can mean a longer transition time from their water bowl to the new fountain.

Noise Level

This is one of the few things over which you’ve got little control. Few pet stores keep floor models of fountains so that prospective buyers can see how loud their pumps are. This may not seem like an important consideration, but if your fountain resides in your bedroom, you’ll be surprised just how vital it becomes.

So if you can’t test out the pump ahead of time, how do you find out whether or not a fountain is going to be too noisy for you? Unfortunately, you’ll need to rely on reviews for the most part, which can be a little contradictory. Another great source for information is to find a dog or cat forum that allows new users to post questions. At worst, a Google search will bring up any results relating to specific models, and should give you at least a general idea of what to expect.

Hopefully this guide will help make your purchase a little easier. A pet fountain is a great way to encourage your pets to drink more, and can be beneficial for their overall health. The right fountain can and should make your life a little easier too.