How to Prevent Slime in Pet Water Fountain?

How to prevent slime in pet water fountain

How to prevent slime in pet water fountain is a question you may want to address seriously.

Slime in your pet’s water bowl and pet fountain is basically bacteria that bonds together to form a slippery film (called biofilm) on the surface.

At worst, it can make your dogs and cats really sick and at best, it can cause tear stains, watery eyes, dental caries, and upset tummies in your pets.

Slime in your pet’s water bowl and food bowl even has the potential to make you sick when you pick up and accidentally touch it.

In this guide, we will tell you ways to prevent slime in pet water fountains.

We will also review some cat water fountain that doesn’t get slimy because of their non-porous materials and continuous flowing streams.

What is Slime on Pet Water Fountains?

Slime is the formation of a biofilm that consists of colonies of bacteria and other microbes that cling firmly to the surface of your pet’s water bowls or water fountains.

The joining of these microbes forms a slimy layer that sticks to your dog and cat fountain surfaces.

Biofilms are not limited to pet water bowls or fountains alone. They are found pretty much anywhere where you have moisture with a suitable surface.

Pet water fountains provide a favorable place for harborage of bacterial colonies because of their tubing, pipes, and small parts that escape cleaning.

Your pet’s drool and saliva contribute to these colonies of bacteria (both good and bad) and are responsible for the pet fountain slime on your pet’s water fountain.

The pink residue slime contains bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and algae which can lead to tummy upsets, tear stains, dental issues, and digestive troubles like vomiting and diarrhea in your pets.

Even humans can indirectly get sick due to this slime when they accidentally touch it while picking up the bowls or cleaning the fountains.

Also Read: Best Pet Hair Remover Brush for Clothing or Furniture

How to Prevent Slime in Pet Water Fountain?

Thankfully, it is not too difficult to prevent slime in pet water fountains. Here are some ways to deter slime formation:

1) Change the Water Regularly

The easiest way to prevent slime in pet water fountain is to replace the reservoir of your pet fountain with clean water regularly, even if your pet does not finish all the water in the fountain.

When we say regularly, we mean at least once every other day. And of course, the best practice is to replace the water once every day.

Some fountains come with an indicator light to alert you when the reservoir is empty however, by the time you are alerted to change the water, too many days may have lapsed and slime may have started to grow on your pet fountain.

Remember, the main goal of this is to remove water that is stained with your pet’s saliva and bacteria growth and to replace it with fresh water.

Spending 1 minute daily (or every other day) to replace the water can help prevent slime buildup as well as ensure the wellbeing of your pet! Isn’t it time well spent!?

2) Place Your Water Fountain Away From Heat and Light Sources

If you are already replacing your pet water fountain daily (or every other day) with fresh water, and you still find slime buildup in your fountain, then check to make sure that your pet’s water fountain is placed away from heat and light sources (especially away from direct sunlight).

This is because warmth encourages growth of bacterial colonies and also leads to formation of algae.

The best practice is to place your pet water fountain in a cool dry place accessible for your pet and away from any heat and light sources.

3) Clean Your Pet Water Fountain Regularly

Regular cleaning (as described below) can help prevent slime formation.

Even though you are already replacing your pet water fountain with fresh water daily, bacteria can still buildup in obscure places such as in the tubings or the inner parts of your fountain.

Therefore, having a regular cleaning routing for your cat and dog water fountain is equally important to eliminate pink residue slime buildup.

You can use vinegar, baking soda, bleach, or mild detergent to clean the different parts of the fountain.

Once in a while, sanitize the fountain parts with hot water to kill germs and slime-causing bacteria.

4) Use Ceramic, Stainless-steel or Porcelain Fountains

Last but not least, if you have tried the above 4 steps and you still find considerable slime buildup in your pet water fountain, then you can consider to purchase a dog and cat water fountain that doesn’t get slimy.

They are made with high-quality materials like BPA-free plastic, stainless steel tops and spouts, porcelain, or ceramic materials that naturally discourage slime formation.

PetSafe Drinkwell Stainless Multi-Pet Dog and Cat Water Fountain, 128 Oz.

Many vets recommend glass, porcelain, ceramic, and steel food bowls and water fountains because they are less porous than plastic which prevents bacterial accumulation.

These materials are also easy to clean and do not require heavy-duty scrubbing.

Avoid fountains with cheap materials that scratch and abrade easily providing bacterial colonies plenty of hiding places that lead to slime formation.

Why Does My Pet’s Water Fountain Get So Slimy?

Now that you know the answer to the question ‘how to prevent slime in pet water fountain?’, let’s also take a closer look at the causes behind slime.

1.  Stagnant water

Water fountains have a tubing to let the water flow up through it when your pets drink water from its nozzle.

However, this water is not always flowing and intermittent stagnation occurs inside the tubing, overnight, and when your pets do not use the fountain.

This causes planktonic community of bacteria to attach to the walls of the fountain’s tubes.

2. Pet drool and saliva

If your pet happens to drink water from the pet fountain right after eating kibble, its saliva can drop into the fountain and feed the bacterial colonies to further their growth.

This feeds the planktonic colonies that contribute to further bacterial colonization.

As a result, pet owners might see pink slime in pet water fountain.

This pinkish slime consists of S.marcescens bacterium that is also found in bathtubs and kitchen and bathroom sinks because it thrives in places where there is moisture.

3. Sunlight

Some units are also heated to provide warm water and prevent icicles in the water.

Heating the water further enhances the growth of microorganisms.

Some people erroneously place pet fountains in sunlight which further encourages growth of algae and slime.

Water fountains sometimes have a complex maze of waterlines which allow water to accumulate in them leading to biofilm formation.

4. Water in your area

Municipal water supply in some areas also contains planktonic bacteria which can contribute to slime formation in pet water fountains.

Also Read: How To Cat Proof a Balcony

What are some of the Diseases Pets can get from Slime in Pet Water Fountains?

A pet fountain looks attractive and is a great way to ensure that your pet drinks adequate quantity of fresh and healthy water.

However, this seemingly innocent looking fountain is a breeding ground for many pathogens.

A) S.marcescens bacterium

The S.marcescens bacterium found in the pink residue slime on water bowls can cause skin issues, meningitis, and other serious infections.

Slime is especially known to promote periodontal diseases in pets.

B)  Salmonella and e.coli bacteria

Sometimes, slime can also contain salmonella and e.coli bacteria which can cause gastrointestinal problems like severe vomiting and diarrhea, urine infections, meningitis, blood infections, and other diseases in weak and immunocompromised pets.

C) Harmful to weak/sick/immunocompromised pets and humans

Healthy pets may not always get sick from slime.

However, slime can harm weak and sick pets and humans – children and elderly people – when they accidentally touch the slime in the water fountains.

How to Get Rid of Slime in Pet Water Fountains?

Pet water fountains are a great way to ensure that your pet gets to drink clean and fresh water daily.

Cleanliness and maintenance of pet water fountains does not take any more than 15 minutes at a time.

Most manufacturers recommend cleaning the fountain once in 2 weeks.

1) Wash The Parts in the dishwasher

Good-quality water fountains come with easy-to-separate parts that you can wash in the dishwasher.

Run the regular cycle for a squeaky clean fountain that is free from that disgusting pink slime.

2) Use Vinegar & Baking Soda

You can soak the parts (bowls, lids, filters, caps, and spouts) in warm water mixed with some vinegar.

Soak them for at least 10-15 minutes. This will kill the bacteria and microbes. Rinse the parts thoroughly under running water.

If your pet water fountain has tough algae buildup, you can also sprinkle some baking soda after soaking in vingar to effectively remove the deposit.

For pump-based fountains, you can run a cycle of water and vinegar to clear off any accumulated slime in the fountain pump and tubing.

3) Use detergent or bleach

You can also wash the fountain parts in warm water with some mild dishwashing detergent or bleach.

If needed, scrub the accumulated slime with a plastic or metal scrub (as instructed by the manufacturer). Rinse thoroughly.

Also Read: Best Canister Vacuum for Pet Hair

How Often Should You Clean Pet Water Fountains?

Most pet water fountain manufacturers recommend deep-cleaning the fountain once every 15 days.

You must also change and replace the filter every month or as recommended by the manufacturer.

How Often Should You Change The Water In A Pet Fountain?

Changing the water in your pet water fountain is definitely one sure way to prevent slime formation.

Although there is no hard and fast rules about this, we recommend you to change the water at least once every other day to keep your pet’s drinking water fresh and also to remove any bacteria and food particles in the water.

What Type Of Water Will Prevent Pet Fountain Slime Best?

Unfortunately, pet fountain slime can happen no matter what type of water you use. There is no evidence that using a certain type of water can prevent pet fountain slime.

Pet fountain slime is formed when bacteria feeds on the organic matter that is introduced into your pet fountain’s water.

The organic matter comes from your pet’s saliva or food particles from your pet’s mouth.

The best way to prevent pet water fountain slime is to wash it regularly and thoroughly.

Best Pet Water Fountain That Won’t Get Slimy – 2022 Top 3 Picks

how to prevent slime in pet water fountain

Three reasons make of PetSafe pet water fountain our number one choice:

One: Its high-grade, non-porous, rust-free, scratch-resistant stainless steel construction prevents accumulation of bacterial colonies that lead to slime.

Two: Its free-falling stream with continuous water circulation prevents stagnation of water which is responsible for algae.

Three: The fountain is very easy to disassemble which makes it very easy to clean as well. You can simply place them in the top rack of your dishwasher and run the normal cycle.

You can also customize its flow to suit your pet’s needs. The unique design of the fountain eliminates splashes and wet messes.

It is available in two sizes: 128 ounce for multiple pets and a smaller one with 60 ounce capacity.

What we like about it

  • Stainless-steel, non-porous, continuous water circulation prevents slime
  • Very hygienic, the filters remove particulates, hair, and odors from water.
  • Dishwasher safe and easy to clean.
  • Not noisy

What we don’t like

  • The water pump has a few plastic parts.
PetSafe Stainless 360 Pet Fountain - 1 Gallon (128 oz) Dog and Cat Water Fountain - Water Filters Remove Hair-Water Dispenser Entices Pets to Drink-Customizable Cat and Dog Water Bowl Dispenser, Grey
  • 128-OZ CAPACITY: Perfect size for cats, dogs and multiple pet households
  • ENCOURAGE PETS TO DRINK: Filtered, water streams entice pets to drink more and help support kidney health through increased hydration; constant water circulation and stainless-steel construction help to promote good pet hygiene
  • CUSTOMIZABLE WATER FLOW: The versatility of this fountain allows you to choose from 1-5 water streams, and you can also twist the top to adjust stream flow
  • FRESH, FLOWING WATER: Replaceable carbon filter refreshes water and the foam filter catches pet hair and debris to keep your cat’s water clean
  • HIGH-GRADE STAINLESS MATERIAL: This stainless-steel pet fountain is made with high-quality materials that are hygienic, durable, and rust and scratch resistant
how to prevent slime in pet water fountain

Tritone pet water fountain is made with ceramic which is non-toxic, non-porous, and deters pathogens.

Each unit is fitted with a carbon filter and a charcoal filter to ensure that your pet gets tasty and fresh water free from hair, debris, pathogens, and odors.

Tritone ceramic pet drinking water can also be disassembled for easy cleaning or simply wiped with a sponge to remove any slimy buildup.

Its capacity is 71 ounces – easy to stock water for a couple of days in case you have to leave your pet/s alone at home. (Check out our guide on How to Feed Cat Wet Food When Away).

What we like about it

  • Healthy non-porous material
  • Dual filters easy to replace
  • Easy to clean with sponge/tissue
  • Attractive and well-made
  • Silent operation.

What we don’t like

  • Ceramic is prone to cracking.
iPettie Tritone Ceramic Pet Drinking Fountain丨Ultra Quiet, Way Better Than Plastic丨Water Fountains for Cats and Dogs 2.1 Liters Pet Water Dispenser with Replacement Filters and Foam (White)
  • Healthy Material and Easy to Clean - Tritone Cat Water Fountain is made of high-quality natural ceramic, eco-friendly, easy to clean and way better than plastic fountain.
  • Dual Filtration System: Mechanical filtration with a foam filter surrounding the pump prevents pets’ hair and other debris from the pump and the tank. Chemical filtration with carbon and charcoal helps to remove bad odors and tastes.
  • Whisper-quiet Operation: The CE certificated IP68 pump runs with 2W low consumption. The only sound you may hear is the water dripping through the strainer into the bowl. Keep the water level above the ‘MIN’ mark on the cone to avoid the pump running dry and burnt out.
  • Large Capacity: With 71oz / 2.1L capacity, this water fountain can provide enough water for a pet to drink 2 weeks or above, great for short trip lovers, as you will be free from frequent water replenishment and no need to worry about water shortage of your furry babies!
  • Reply within 24-hour Customer Care - Let our pet product experts help. The water pump enjoys 3 year warranty.
how to prevent slime in pet water fountain

This high-quality stainless steel Pet Water Fountain from iPettie is made of 304 stainless steel which naturally resists slime formation.

It features an ultra quiet pump of less than 30 dB that will make drinking water pleasing for your cat.

The secret to encouraging your cat to drink water is to provide a stream of running water rather than bubbling the water through a vent. iPettie’s gentle 360° stream of running water aerate the water thereby introducing more oxygen and freshness in the water. Your cat will love drinking water more than ever with this pet water fountain!

When it comes to cleaning, this set of pet water fountain is easily disassembled for wash either manually or in the dishwasher.

We also love that this pet water fountain has a 4 stage filtration system to remove hair, chlorine, and other heavy metals to provide fresh-tasting water to your lovely pets.

What we like about it

  • Stainless steel parts resist slime, easy to clean, and non-porous
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Circulating water prevents algae
  • Triple filtration
  • Noise-free

What we don’t like

  • No battery option, so it shuts off if power goes out.
iPettie Cat Water Fountain Stainless Steel, 84oz/2.5L, 4-Stage Filtration, Ultra Quiet Metal Cat Water Fountain with LED Light & Filter for Pet, Kitty & Dog
  • Stainless Steel Cat Fountain - Durable, dishwasher safe, easy to clean, better than plastic or ceramic cat water fountain, highly recommended by veterinarians.
  • 4-Stage Circulating Filtration System - Consists of two filters, the system provides healthy and oxygen-enriched waterfall for pets.
  • Money Saving - Replaceable round filter, sponge filter and water pump. The pump is also detachable and washable.
  • Ultra Quiet Pump (< 30 dB) with Light - Low-voltage pump is reliable and it usually lasts 2.5-4 years. Stainless steel pet fountain features LED light will decorate your room in the evening.
  • Classic Flower Design - Cats prefer running water with the flower than gently bubbling water. The 360° streams aerate the water for added oxygen and freshness.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does saliva contribute to pet fountain slime?

Every time your pet drinks from it’s water fountain, it’s tongue will come into contact with the water and inevitably introduce saliva into the water.

Your pet’s saliva is a reservoir of food particles, microscopic simple sugars (food particles that is broken down by saliva) and bacteria. All of these get introduced into the pet fountain water whenever your pet drinks water.

Pet fountain slime gets formed when bacteria feeds on the food particles or simple sugars.

These bacteria can either come from the air inside our home or from your pet’s saliva.

2. Are Plastic Pet Water Fountains Safe?

There are some concerns about plastic pet food bowls and water fountains causing contact dermatitis and acne in pets, especially in cats.

 Some cats developed chin acne while a few got swollen lips due to plastic food and water bowls.

However, top-quality BPA-free plastic fountains are generally safe and majority of the pets had no issues with it.

It also depends on how regularly you clean the fountains.

The common cause behind canine and feline acne is bacteria in the unclean surfaces of bowls. So, if you regularly clean your pet water fountains, there should be no cause for concern about this issue.

Having said that, it is always a good idea to talk to your vet and check if plastic water fountains are right for your pets.

You can also choose ceramic, stainless steel, and/or porcelain pet fountains which naturally resist slime formation and are also easier to clean owing to their non-porous surfaces.

3. How to clean a plastic cat fountain?

The first step is to disassemble all the parts of your plastic cat fountain including the tubes connecting to the fountain pump.

As water and bacteria can stagnate within any parts of your cat fountain, it is very important to wash all the parts.

If you are not familiar with cleaning your cat plastic fountain or if this is your first time, we suggest you to take note of the connecting parts of the fountain so that you will be able to put them back after washing.

Next step will be to wash all the parts. You can either place them in your dishwasher (but first make sure they are dishwasher safe) or you can wash them manually with a brush and soap.

If you are worried about pet water fountain slime, you can also soak your plastic cat fountain in vinegar to remove the lurking bacteria stuck on the pink residue slime.

Soak the pet fountain parts (bowls, lids, filters, caps, and spouts) in warm water mixed with some vinegar for at least 10 – 15 minutes. Then, rinse them thoroughly under running water.

Here’s a video on how to dismantle and clean your plastic cat fountain:

4. How to clean a stainless steel pet fountain?

The method to clean a stainless steel pet fountain is the same as that of a plastic pet fountain. Refer to the answer in question 3 for more details


How to prevent slime in pet water fountain is important issue to address to prevent skin diseases, periodontal diseases, and UTI in pets and their humans.

Thankfully, there are some pet water fountains that naturally deter and resist slime buildup due to non-porous materials in their construction.

We recommend the PetSafe pet water fountain with its sturdy stainless steel body and continuous flowing stream that prevents algae and slimy buildup.

Check out our other recommendations as well.

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