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THE CONTROVERSY OVER ELEVATED PET FEEDERS

Greyhound at raised feeder

Is it better to feed your Greyhound from bowls on the floor or elevated? There’s been a long-standing controversy over the benefits or drawbacks of raised food bowls for dogs and how these now popular raised dog food bowls affect our pets. Talk to two different experts and get two different answers for two reasons. First, there haven’t been many significant studies on the topic of elevated dog feeders. Second, the few studies which have been done contradict each other. Here are a few pros and cons regarding raised vs. floor feeding so you can make an informed decision about what’s best for your pup.

FIRST, WHAT ARE THEY?

An elevated dog food bowl is any pet food bowl that does not sit directly on the floor.  The actual height of elevation of the bowl may vary based on design.

There are elevated dog food bowls (also called raised dog food bowls) that come in set elevations for different-sized dogs. There are adjustable raised pet food bowls that allow owners to choose a specific bowl height. Raised feeders should be approximately lower chest height on your dog.

With the popularity of raised food bowls, many pet owners have wondered if they should ditch their old regular dog food bowls and start their canines on elevated ones due to the potential benefits they provide.

PROS OF ELEVATED FEEDERS

Ease of access – This may be beneficial for dogs with orthopedic conditions, joint disorders, spinal conditions, arthritis, or for senior dogs with limited mobility. Elevated food bowls allow pets to reach their food more easily. Dogs tend to lift their heads after taking a drink to facilitate swallowing. With an elevated feeder, they do not have to raise their heads as far. Your dog is able to maintain better posture and a more comfortable stance while eating and drinking.  An improved posture causes less stress on your dog's back and joints. This is important for senior, arthritic or dogs with other conditions that make swallowing difficult. It's understandable that an elevated food bowl can help them avoid further pain.

Posture - Some suggest it also makes for better digestion as the posture when eating promotes food movement from mouth to stomach. This is particularly important if your dog suffers from Megaesophagus. Megaesophagus has been nicknamed the “Mega Problem” in dogs. For those that need to brush up on anatomy, the esophagus is what carries the food from the mouth to the stomach.

Megaesophagus is when the esophagus enlarges and is unable to efficiently push food from the throat into the stomach. One of the most common signs of this issue is regurgitation. This means the dog is not getting nearly enough vitamins, minerals, calories, and nutrients needed to live a functional, happy life.

Although an elevated dog feeder will not fix this issue, it does increase the chances of the food entering the stomach instead of being regurgitated. When the food bowl is on the floor, the dog has to bend at the neck, which means the food is fighting against gravity to enter the stomach. When the dog is eating upright, gravity can work in the dog’s favor.

Easier for you - Another reason you may want to consider getting an elevated feeder is that it will be easier on you when you go to fill or clean them. They’re great if you suffer from back, neck, or hip pain. The less you have to bend over, the less pain you’ll be in. Many elderly dog owners find it easier on their joints to use an elevated feeder.

Cleanliness – Because the dog is able to reach his food better, he is less likely to be sloppy while eating. Dogs are less likely to “play” in their water and you won’t need to get on your hands and knees to scrub the feeding area as often.

Dishes stay where you put them – Raised dog dishes stay where you put them – no more sliding around the floor or being carried off as a chew toy. You always know where the dishes are.

Iggie and raised bowl

Reduces risk of critters -When the food bowl is on the floor, it makes it easy for pests such as ants, spiders, cockroaches, and other bugs to crawl into the food bowl. By using an elevated bowl, you’re reducing the risk that nasty bugs and rats/mice will get into your dog’s food.

CONS OF ELEVATED FEEDERS

Expense – Raised dog dishes are more expensive than conventional feeding bowls.

Health Risk – Potential cause of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus commonly known as  Canine Bloat.  It’s no secret that large and deep-chested breeds are at greater risk for developing the condition, but the jury is still out on whether the type of dish you choose to use to feed your pet has anything to do with increasing that risk. Luckily for us, Greyhounds are not found on top ten lists of breeds susceptible to bloat. Yes, they can get bloat, but it is not common.

Here’s where the controversy comes in. While some vets recommend raised feeders for large and giant breed dogs because studies have shown they aid in proper eating and digestion, other experts say feeding these large breeds from raised dishes may actually cause more harm than good. One study claims an elevated feeder reduces the risk of Canine Bloat because less air will enter the esophagus. The other study claims that an elevated dog feeder will increase the risk of canine bloat because it will increase the speed at which a dog eats. The faster they eat, the greater the chances of bloat. If your dog is a speed demon, put a tennis ball in the dish with his food – that will slow him down. You can also get slow feeder dishes that work with various raised feeder stands.

Bloat is highly treatable if caught quickly, but it’s definitely a killer. Do yourself and your dog a favor and familiarize yourself with the symptoms of bloat so you can get your pup to the animal emergency room ASAP if you notice the signs.  Here are some links to get you started:

https://iheartdogs.com/know-bloat-symptoms-save-your-dogs-life/

http://www.greatpetcare.com/emergency/bloat-in-dogs/

https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/signs-and-symptoms-bloat-dogs

Vets fight the condition on a regular basis and still have no definitive clue as to why it happens in the first place. Follow your vet’s recommendations, most likely: feed small portions twice daily and avoid exercise just before and just after eating.

 

With all the conflicting research out there, it can be hard to figure out if an elevated feeder is right for your dog. Definitely speak with your veterinarian before making a switch to a new dog feeder. We hope that after going over the many pros and cons of elevated dog feeders, you and your vet will be able to make a decision you feel confident is right for your hound.

If you have had any experience with Canine Bloat, please help us understand by leaving a comment below.

1 comment

  • Thank you for sharing insight on both opinions. I truly agree it depends on each dog. With each Greyhound we have had we have made feeding choices based on their needs. Being rescued racing dogs some of their bodies were more “fragile” than others and the elevated feeder really helped. Always have to do whats best for the pup and follow the vets recommendation.

    John Teets

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