Are Raised Bowls Bad For Dogs?

Introduction

We all know the importance of keeping your dog well fed and hydrated.

But do we also consider the comfort levels of our pet dogs while they are eating or drinking?

Many dog owners simply think that fulling up a dog bowl with nutritious food is enough for their pets, however this may not always be the case.

Over the past several years, a debate has arised as to whether or not we should consider raising the height of the dog bowls to improve the comfort levels of our pet dogs.

This then brings us to the question are raised bowls bad for dogs?

The short answer is it depends.

What is an Elevated Dog Bowl?

raised bowls

Before we dive deeper into looking at the various factors that determine whether or not a raised dog bowl is necessary for dogs, let’s look at what exactly is an elevated dog bowl.

An elevated dog bowl is basically a dog bowl that has been elevated off the ground usually sitting on top of a stand or built into the stand. The elevated dog bowl usually sits somewhere around close to the height of your dog’s shoulder.

The basic premise of an elevated dog bowl is to give your dog easier access to their food by not requiring your dog to slouch over and bend down to eat their food or drink water.

Some of these elevated dog bowls only come in one fixed height whereas others are adjustable to meet the needs of your dog.

Benefits of Elevated Dog Bowls

Elevated dog bowls provide a number of benefits over traditional dog bowls. These include:

  • Reduce risk of neck strain
  • Reduce risk of back pain
  • Prevents dog bowls from sliding across the floor
  • Dogs with arthritis and joint issues will benefit from using an elevated dog bowl
  • More suitable for larger taller dogs
  • Promotes proper posture in tall dogs. Instead of having your dog lean and bend down to fetch their food, your dog can maintain a neutral posture.

So with all of these benefits associated with an elevated dog bowl, why hasn’t everyone jumped on the bandwagon already?

Drawbacks of an Elevated Dog Bowl

dog in raised dog bowl

An elevated dog bowl isn’t always advantageous and suitable for dogs. Here’s a list of drawbacks associated with the use of an elevated dog bowl:

  • It has a higher price tag compared to other dog bowl options out there. Prices for an elevated dog bowl can easily be 2-3x as much as a traditional dog bowl. The extra material that goes into manufacturing the raised dog bowl has added to the cost of the dog bowl.
  • Takes up more space compared to traditional dog bowls due to the design and structure of the dog bowl.
  • There is some debate that elevated dog bowls can in fact contribute to bloat. Since there is no concise opinion on the matter yet, there is some risk involved in the use of an elevated dog bowl.

Are Raised Dog Bowls Necessary?

Initially when elevated dog bowls hit the store shelves, they were hailed as the savior towards battling bloat in dogs.

Bloat is basically Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) (twisting of the stomach and trapping of air and blockage of blood in the stomach and spleen)

There are a number of factors that contribute to this such as overeating or drinking, and swallowing too much air.

Over the years however new research studies have shown that elevated dog bowls aren’t really helping combat bloat, and in some studies, may even contribute to it. So with studies turning up mixed bag results, its hard to determine whether or not elevated dog bowls actually do in fact help with bloat.

In addition, critics argue that its not natural for dogs to be eating food and drinking water at that height, but instead that dogs evolved to be eating and drinking down below.

With so many controversy surrounding the use of raised dog bowls, when then is it appropriate for use?

When Should You Use an Elevated Dog Bowl?

non raised dog bowl with dog looking sad

Here are the times when it is recommended that you use an elevated dog bowl:

  • If your dog suffers from any sort of neck strain or pain. Having your dog continuing to eat from the floor will only exacerbate the condition and make it worse
  • If your dog suffers from back pain
  • If your dog has arthritis or any joint or mobility issues. This is especially useful for older dogs
  • If you own a tall large dog and are trying to correct their bad posture. When large tall dogs eat their food, they need to slouch down to the ground to eat. This can make things quite uncomfortable for tall dogs every time they need to eat and also creates a bad habit of keeping this posture.
  • If your dog has a habit of moving around the dog bowl when they are eating their food. With elevated dog bowls, this is no longer an issue as the bowl is raised off of the ground.
  • If your dog has a habit of splashing or “swimming” in their water bowl. Since the bowl is raised, splashing the water is near impossible and your dog won’t able to play with their food neither

In addition to these cases, you should also pay a visit to vet and seek their expertise and advice to see whether or not using a raised dog bowl is necessary for your pet dog. A quick visit there will answer all of your questions regarding this matter.

How to Select the Right Size

If you’ve determined that an elevated dog bowl is appropriate for you dog, then the next step is sizing the raised dog bowl.

To do this, take a piece of tape and measure the distance from the ground to the top of your dog’s shoulder or lower part of their chest. Subtract 7 inches from this measurement for a large dog and 3 inches if its a smaller dog. This should give you an approximation for the height of the dog bowl.

You may also want to consider getting an elevated dog bowl that is height adjustable. If your dog has not fully grown and matured, then their bound to get taller and bigger and outgrow the current dog bowl configuration you have for them. A height adjustable raised dog bowl will help solve this problem.

Conclusion

In this article, we examined what exactly is an elevated dog bowl and how it can benefit our pet dogs. Fans of raised dog bowls argue that they help improve the posture of dogs, reduce neck and back pain, reduce bloat, prevent sliding of dog bowls, and stop our pets from splashing the water.

Critics however argue that raised dog bowls cost more than traditional dog bowls, take up more space, and can actually contribute to bloat rather than prevent it.

As there is no definitive opinion on whether or not elevated dog bowls prevent or cause bloat, you should take discretion with the use of it.

At the end of the day, whether or not you choose to use an elevated dog bowl will depend on your dog’s needs and whether or not you feel it is appropriate for them.

If your dog is tall, suffers from neck strain, back pain, has mobility or joint issues, and likes to play with their food, then an elevated dog bowl could be of benefit for them.

If they don’t fall under any of these categories, then perhaps a normal dog bowl will do them just fine.

Let me know in the comments below whether or not you use an elevated dog bowl and why you chose to use one or not.

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