Dog Cat Recycling Water Bowl




About: I am a Healthcare Professional by trade. I love inventing/creating new uses for objects (MacGyvering) and tinkering with and hacking recipes. We have a fleet of rescued dogs and cats so are very familiar w...

We have ALOT of indoor dwelling animals.  Filling water bowls all day is time consuming.  We have shopped for the fresh flowing commercial pet water fountains and found them to be expensive, low volume and poor quality.  I came up with a high volume no frills alternative.  Extremely easy to put together and very inexpensive.  The critters all drink from it...large dogs to cats.  The basic idea can be made to what ever fountain configuration your imagination can concieve. 


Step 1: Basic Equipment

One large water tight container and one smaller container.  Consider the size of your smallest critter when choosing container size and height.

Smallish clean rocks to mostly fill the small container and hold the pump inplace.

One small, low volume fountain pump.  A larger, high volume pump may shoot the stream on to the ceiling or across the living room.

Step 2: Fountain Pump

I found this one at Menards in the garden section.  It cost around $7.  I do not remember the flow rate statistics.  Just small.  It produces a few inches high plume at the end of the tube.  (next step)

Step 3: Rocks

We live in mid Michigan.  Glacial till rocks are everywhere.  Precleaned ones can be purchased at garden stores.  Just check what is in or on them since your pets will be drinking the water that has been filtered around the rocks.

Step 4: Assembly

Stick a piece of tubing that is the right diameter for the outlet of whatever pump you have chosen.  That info will be on the box.  Tubing is at the hardware store.  We had some just laying around that was the right diameter.

Cut the length to reach over the rocks and above the water line to what ever height is right for your application.

If the pump has little suction cups them stick it wear you want on the bottom of the smaller, rock containing container.  Then surround the pump with rocks to hold it inplace. 

Step 5: Fill 'er Up

Put your smaller container inside the big container.  Place the whole shabang where you want it, then fill it with water and plug in!  Done.

The larger container is used for a spill and dribble barrier.  If you have tidy drinkers it may not be necessary,

Step 6: Done

Not pretty.  But totally effective and easy to fill

CLEANING!  Every few week at least to avoid hair and slime from clogging the pump and getting the water disgusting.

I take the small container to the sink and dump the water out and hold the rocks in to container.  I put a little fruit and vegetable soap on the rocks, add water and shake/agitate the rocks until good and sudsy.  Then I fill, rinse, dump and repeat until the water is clear.

The pump get gets removed and cleaned.  The intake usually has crud in it and the cord that is submerged needs a wipe down with the sudsy water.

Hope someone gives it a try.

If I can get a pic or two of the critters drinking from it I will post those as well.



    • Arduino Contest 2019

      Arduino Contest 2019
    • IoT Challenge

      IoT Challenge
    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest

    12 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Activated carbon would be a nice addition. 3 years ago!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I don't understand the reason to have a pump in the bowl. It would aerate the water and look sharp, but that would be it. It's just recycling the existing water, not adding fresh. Please explain the advantages of doing this.

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    The reason is you want your dog's water constantly moving, especially through clean rocks, because it keeps the water clean and fresh, otherwise it becomes stagnant. How many times have you picked up their water bowl and said, "Ewww, I just washed that water bowl yesterday, and it is already filthy"? This will keep their water fresher and cleaner longer. If you don't keep your dog's water clean, it can actually grow these little, black worms in it that you sure don't want your dog drinking!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Simply because the cats dig playing with the water stream, they all, dog and cats both, prefer the aerated moving water over all the other bowls in the house. It is much more higher volume than a standard bowel with 11 animals it the houses. It is not flashy by any means. Plus I am not clever enough to figure out how to have incoming fresh water without a potential flood. There would have to be a device and valve responsive to the water level.

    FbO Vorchajmsdo

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    A float on a pivot, kinda like a carburetor float bowl or a toilet tank would probably work, but you would need to be near to a fresh water source, or plumb a line to the water dish.


    3 years ago

    I am so gonna thanks!


    5 years ago

    Wow i really like that idea!!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Last summer, I used a water pump from a former fish tank for my 2 pets. .
    Never thought of using rocks for additional water filtering . . .but I was thinking about adding a plant. The kind used in a fish tank. .to uhm. . .make the water dish look more "decorative" and functional at the same time. .
    I noticed my pets enjoyed the aerated water a lot more than the other water bowls too.


    7 years ago on Step 6

    I wonder if it would work with a submersible mini-filter. I think you'd get the water movement, and it would also filter out the variety of crud that pets dump into their water. I may have to try this out!
    Here's what I mean-


    7 years ago on Step 6

    Awesome :) I have one of those expensive filters... it's loud, and my cats likes to "play" in the water so I end up with a puddly mess around it. Thanks for your suggestion, I think I can dress it up a bit with a large ceramic bowl or vase (perhaps a pot for a plant that does not have drain holes?) and have an attractive water feature AND pet waterer in one! Thanks again!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I love it, and I KNEW I rescued that little pump from my flea market table for a reason!

    My cat has to drink a lot (renal deficiency), so this would be ideal. However, I am concerned about the contents of the plastic, even more than the stones. I wonder if some sort of ceramic container could be used instead, like a big planter with no hole in the bottom. I'm going to keep my eyes open.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm sure you can use what ever container(s) you have around. I have seen another instructable using an aquarium filter simply attached to the side of a container. I used rocks simply to hold the pump in place. The little suction cups on the bottom of the pump would not stay stuck to the plastic for very long underwater. I did not want to use a toxic glue. I figure the rocks are pretty clean and not nearly as gross as the things they all lick, eat and put in their mouths all day.