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A relatively new product for pet lovers has gained popularity in recent years, and it addresses many of the hydration issues pet owners face every day: the pet fountain. A pet fountain provides cats and/or dogs with a constant supply of clean, filtered water. These fountains are aesthetically pleasing, easy to maintain, and popular with most pets.
At BestReviews, we provide clear, objective evaluations of a wide range of consumer products. We use a blend of consumer feedback, expert opinions, and independent lab testing to create a shortlist of the best contenders for consumers.
If you’re in the market for a new pet fountain, please consider our shortlist of worthy contenders above. Then check out our thorough shopping guide below to learn more about pet fountains – how they function, what they’re made of, and why you (and your pet) might want one.
You may be wondering what differences exist between a traditional pet water bowl and a pet fountain.
The water inside a pet fountain circulates to prevent stagnancy. A small electric pump sends water from the basin to the top, creating a dynamic flow as it cascades down. Some pet fountains make an appealing gurgling or splashing sound, while others remain whisper-quiet. The pump’s flow rate may be adjustable to meet the needs and preferences of different pets.
Pet fountains contain filters that remove unwanted contaminants such as pet hair, saliva, bacteria, dust, and food particles. This is a great feature, but potential buyers should note that a pet fountain must still be replenished regularly. It’s a standalone water supply with circulating water, but it does not hook to a water line to provide new water.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum
Fresh and Clean
Water flows from the top of the fountain to the bowl in the PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain. This is an attractive configuration for pets whether they prefer to drink from a stream or from a bowl. For extra freshness, the Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain comes equipped with replaceable carbon filters. A useful pre-filter helps catch hair and other large particles before they enter the animal's drinking supply – a definite benefit.
Many pets are finicky about their water supply, and stagnant water in a traditional drinking bowl can be a turnoff. Moving water is cleaner water in the minds of our pets, and a pet fountain provides both static and dynamic interest.
Here are some other compelling reasons to provide your furry companion with a pet fountain:
Water bowls in high-traffic areas often accumulate dust and other debris, but contained pet fountains maintain a much cleaner water supply.
Many pet fountains offer a stimulating variety of ways for pets to get their hydration, from a still basin to a steady drip to a rushing cascade of water.
Pets who are fascinated by dripping faucets or leaking pipes can be encouraged to switch to a more sanitary and accessible pet fountain instead.
Pet fountain water is filtered water.
Indeed, investing in a new pet fountain addresses many of the issues owners have with their current water bowls, including sanitation and aesthetics.
Many pets are instinctively attracted to the sound of running water.
Most pet fountains are made of one of three common materials: plastic, stainless steel, or ceramic.
These are inexpensive, lightweight, and relatively easy to keep clean, but they’re prone to scratches and cracks which can harbor harmful bacteria. If you want a plastic pet fountain, look for one that is BPA-free.
Pet fountains made of plastic can be sanitary when in good condition, but scratches and cracks in the material can harbor unwanted bacteria. Any scratches or cracks should be scrubbed thoroughly with a sanitizing solution to avoid bacterial contamination.
They are easy to maintain and corrosion-resistant. Some rust development is possible over time, however, and stainless steel fountains are noticeably heavier than plastic and ceramic pet fountains.
These can be pricey, and proper location is crucial, since the thin shell can be fragile and easily broken. Many pet owners seek ceramic fountains because the material does not react to the acidity of the water.
Your pet fountain water pump should be completely dismantled and cleaned on a regular basis.
An average-size pet fountain generally holds 60 to 70 ounces of water. Larger pet fountains may hold 160 ounces of water or more.
Water capacity is a serious consideration, especially when multiple pets are involved. All pet fountains require replenishment as the water evaporates, but larger pet fountains need diligent attention to avoid running out of water and burning out the pump motor.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum
Low Cost, High Quality5
The Drinkwell Platinum Fountain is a low-cost, high-quality pet fountain. In addition to holding a large amount of water, it incorporates many features that you typically find on more expensive pet fountains. It's a great buy, but as with all plastic fountains, potential buyers should be aware of the fact that some animals develop chin acne when their skin comes into contact with plastic.
Some pet fountains have a one-piece design. Others break down into several pieces for easier cleaning and maintenance. And some, but not all, are dishwasher safe.
Ease of use matters, because if a pet fountain is too difficult to clean, you may end up not using it.
Look for a pet fountain with a pump assembly that’s easy to remove and clean. Better pet fountains allow users to take the water pump apart for more thorough cleaning and sanitation.
Look for a pet fountain with filters that are easy to purchase and just as easy to replace on a regular basis.
Pet fountain filters often use activated charcoal to remove contaminants, much like the filter used in fish tanks.
How much does a good pet fountain cost? Prices range from under $35 to over $75. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect in each price range.
At the lowest price range, buyers can expect a plastic housing with a small electric water pump and a single source of flowing water. The water flows into a small basin, then recycles through the pump and filter. Carbon replacement filters are relatively inexpensive, and the capacity is generally sufficient for one or two small pets.
The overall flow rate of a pet fountain can make a difference for your pet. Experiment with different speeds to see what your furry friend likes best.
Pet fountains in this middle range may be made of BPA-free plastic, stainless steel, or ceramic.
The capacity is noticeably higher – around 70 ounces on average. There may be several access points for multiple pets. A larger water pump can create more noise, but it will also generate a more appealing water flow.
Many parts should be dishwasher safe.
Some pets prefer to drink water as it flows, while others prefer the calm of placid water in a basin.
Top-shelf pet fountains are almost always made of high-quality ceramic, stainless steel, or a combination of the two materials. These expensive models generally feature a sculptural design that fits in well with other decorative elements of the room.
The capacity is almost always generous, although some may have a 70-ounce limit.
The overall level of functioning may not be noticeably better than a mid-range model, but the aesthetic qualities are definitely a plus.
Some pet fountain filters need to be rinsed and primed before use. Be sure to read the instructions carefully when replacing filters.
Ideally, a pet should feel comfortable using a pet fountain as his or her primary water source. But some pets take an interest in a new “toy” for a few weeks, then look for a more appealing alternative.
If a pet temporarily loses interest in a pet fountain, it pays to have another source of water available until that pet becomes interested again.
When considering a plastic pet fountain, look for models designated as “BPA-free.”
Cats and dogs can be creatures of habit; they may not take an immediate interest in a new water source. If the noise of the water pump seems to bother your pet, try leaving the motor off for several days. If the water flow is too fast, make the proper adjustments.
Just as a human would refuse to drink polluted water, a cat or dog will often boycott a pet fountain if the water quality is poor. Due diligence is required when it comes to replacing the water, cleaning the fountain’s components, and installing a new filter.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
PetSafe Drinkwell Ceramic Pagoda
Quality and Durability
If you want a quality pet fountain, the features and durability afforded by the Drinkwell Ceramic Pagoda Fountain are well worth the price. The fountain has a proven track record of working well, and pets love the drinking options – which means they drink more, thereby increasing hydration and promoting health. The fountain is easy to clean, and the ceramic construction does not promote bacteria growth, resulting in cleaner water for companion animals.
It’s safe to assume that a typical pet fountain is never far from empty. Water naturally evaporates throughout the day, and many pets are frequent visitors to the well. What’s more, a submersible water pump can burn out quickly when it becomes dry. As convenient as they are, pet fountains are not “set-and-forget” appliances.
Animals instinctively avoid water sources that may have become contaminated by spoiled food or feces. Instead, find a quiet location for the pet fountain – ideally in a separate room with minimal foot traffic.
Q. My cat seems to be intimidated by our new pet fountain. What can I do to encourage her to use it?
A. This problem is actually quite common. Many pets require a period of adjustment whenever new items are introduced to their environment. You could turn off the water pump and encourage her to use the fountain as a regular water bowl at first. You could try a different location, away from the main traffic areas, litter boxes, and food supplies. Give your pet time to discover the benefits of fresh water at her own pace.
Q. I have multiple cats, and I was told to buy at least two of everything: food bowls, litter boxes, toys, etc. Is this rule true for pet fountains as well?
A. Generally speaking, cats and dogs are not as territorial or possessive of their water supply as they are their food supply and/or litter boxes. You should be able to provide a communal source of drinking water in the form of a large-capacity pet fountain. A second fountain should only be necessary if some pets become too aggressive or territorial. Be sure to locate the main pet fountain away from food bowls and litter boxes to prevent cross-contamination.
Q. My dogs used to drink from their shared pet fountain all the time, but they stopped using it after a few weeks. When I replaced the water, they started using it again. Why is this happening?
A. Animals are very sensitive to changes in their environments, including their food and water supplies. Natural contaminants such as pet saliva, spoiled food, hair, and household dust can cause them to look for cleaner sources of water. The filter may need to be changed, or the entire bowl and pump could require cleaning and sanitation.
Q. My cat frequently sits in the bathroom sink and drinks water from the dripping faucet. Can a pet fountain duplicate that type of water supply?
A. Different pet fountains produce different types of water flow. Some provide a steady drip of water much like that of a leaky water faucet. Others produce sheets of cascading water. With the right pet fountain, you should be able to adjust the water pump to simulate the slow trickle of a dripping faucet if that’s what your kitty wants.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.