elevated food bowls for dogs

Over the years, there have been plenty of contention topics among dog owners – are grains good or bad?

Should dogs be spayed or neutered before a certain age?

Can they see color?

However, one topic that has repeatedly been questioned is the benefit or detriment of elevated food bowls for dogs and how these now popular raised dog food bowls affect our pets.

What are elevated dog food bowls?

elevated food bowls for dogsAn 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.

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.

However, there's more to know about elevated pet food bowls than some sources may lead you to believe.

Elevated Food Bowls

How to pick a raised dog food bowl?

If there are different heights for elevated bowls, how does one find the correct and perfect height of an elevated food bowl for a pet?

If you decide to switch from regular dog food bowls to using elevated feeders for your dog, height is the main component to consider, and it's essential to select a raised bowl at the correct height.

Measuring is key.

How to measure:

The best way to measure your dog to get the right elevated dog bowl is to get your Fido to stand with his legs directly underneath him.

From here, get a tape measure and measure from the floor up to the point where your dog’s front legs meet the chest.

Alternately, you can measure from the floor up to your dog’s shoulder and subtract between 3 and 6” depending upon his overall height.

You want to subtract 6” for larger dogs, whereas for smaller dogs, you would subtract 3”.

Just remember: if you aim to reduce stress on your dog's spine or neck, you should use a raised dog food bowl tall enough to do this.

However, I recommend first reading this article and doing enough of your own research on using raised bowls, and here's why.

Elevated food bowls for dogs have been advertised as having many benefits for dogs' health.

Unfortunately, not all of those advertised benefits hold.

Let’s take a look at some of these widely spread truths and falsehoods from a scientific viewpoint.

READ MORE: Mealtime Battle – Regular Dog Bowl vs. Raised Dog Bowl

5 Myths and Facts of Elevated Food Bowls for Dogs

Elevated Food Bowls

1 Elevated Dog Food Bowls Reduce Bloat in Large Breeds

This is FALSE.

When first promoted, raised dog food bowls were sold as something extremely beneficial for larger breed dogs at a higher risk of bloating.

This view was sold as “science” because it resulted from a statistical study (the Glickman Study).

However, this was no proper study, and the conclusion was extremely flawed.

All that this “study” did was look at the information of other available, non-science-based literature and anecdotal evidence that already existed and did no research into the matter at all.

In fact, the largest study on contributing factors to canine bloat in larger breed dogs to date says the exact opposite.

Elevated feeding may induce bloating in canines, especially in those with sensitive stomachs.

True, this study wasn't perfect; however, it's the best research paper we have to date.

From what research the scientific community currently has, the idea that elevated feeders can prevent bloat in large-breed dogs is questionable at best.

So, do elevated feeders for dogs reduce bloating in larger breeds? The correct answer here would be that we don't know for sure, but, likely, they DO NOT.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Your Dog Has Canine Bloat and How to Prevent It

2 Elevated Dog Food Bowls Create a Healthier Posture for Dogs

This one is both TRUE and FALSE.

Elevated Dog Food Bowls Create a Healthier PostureCompanies promoted elevated food bowls for dogs to prevent bloating in large dogs because they are supposed to create a “healthier eating posture.”

The truth is that, most likely, dogs have evolved to eat in a head-down posture (sources: 1, 2, 3), so eating in a different posture may not necessarily be a good thing.

With that being said, in theory, this altered posture can be beneficial in other instances, such as older, arthritic, or injured dogs.

When a dog has a case of canine arthritis, joint pain, or immobility issues, eating with a head-down posture can cause excess strain and pain.

By raising your dog's food bowl, your pet no longer has to experience those pains and strains because they do not have to lean down as far to eat.

This has not been researched, though, and is mostly guesswork.

So, is elevated feeding good or bad for older or injured large-breed dogs? There is still controversy here, as I've indicated in my “theory.”

Since the evidence is scarce to support each side's benefits and detriments, it is a matter of the owner's preference.

RELATED: 5 Best Collapsible Dog Bowls for Easy Travel

3 Elevated Dog Food Bowls Promote Cleaner Eating

This is FALSE.

Somewhere along the line (probably with new companies trying to sell the “revolutionary” raised dog food bowls and making stuff up) came the myth that elevated dog feeders promoted cleaner eating spaces for canines.

We aren’t sure where this idea came from, but this one is absolutely false and has no scientific or even logical basis.

Because of how dogs evolved to drink water and consume food, regardless of the height of your dog's food bowl, your pet can still spill kibble, drop kibble, or even move kibble outside of his bowl.

When dogs consume food, they have their mouths in the same proximity to the source regardless of height.

There is no science on how elevated dog food bowls promote cleaner eating, nor do we need it; watch your pooch eat.

4 Elevated Dog Food Bowls Don't Slide Across the Floor

This is TRUE.

One concern that some dog owners have is the fact that their dog moves his bowl across the floor as he eats.

Elevated feeders can certainly prevent this from happening, and there's no doubt about that.

However, it is worth noting that a raised dog food bowl is not the only solution to the problem.

Just off the top of my head, two other things that can solve this issue are bowls with rubber on the bottom that prevents sliding or rubbery dog food mats where you can place your Fido's bowl to prevent sliding (which also helps to keep the area cleaner).

Therefore, because we have reasons to believe that elevated food bowls for dogs pose a potential hazard for some breeds to develop bloating, it may be better to choose alternative solutions to the “sliding bowl” problem rather than opt for an elevated feeder.

READ THIS: Dog Food Bowls That Slow Down Eating – When Do You Need One?

5 Elevated Bowls Solve One Specific Problematic Behavior in Dogs

Elevated Bowls Solve One Specific Problematic BehaviorThis is TRUE.

One particular behavioral issue in dogs that isn't common but can be seen often enough for owners to start looking for solutions – attempting to swim or dig into the water bowls, even if the bowl is small.

Some dogs, particularly those with a high predilection for water, spend a great deal of time trying to paddle in their water bowls as if it's the pool.

There's no explanation for this other than they like to be in the water.

The issue is most common with puppies.

Elevated feeders definitely discourage dogs from turning their water source into a pool.

VIDEO GUIDE: How to Choose the Right Dog Bowl (step by step)

The Final Verdict

Benefits of Elevated Food Bowls for Dogs

Frustratingly, when I try to summarize my conclusions on the benefits of elevated food bowls for dogs, I must admit that there are both benefits and detriments to their use. Overall, I would say that the potential cons of using elevated dog food bowls outweigh the possible pros (unless you have a particular reason to use them).

So if you are considering using a raised dog food bowl for your Fido, my advice is that you weigh these pros and cons against your specific case and your specific dog before making your final decision.

Remember to consider the added cost of raised dog food bowls, especially if you're currently on a budget dog food diet.

Say you have a Great Dane and want to use an elevated feeder to reduce the strain on his neck and spine while eating.

Science indicates that an elevated feeder in larger dogs prone to bloating more easily is contradictory.

So, while your Great Dane may not experience strain in his neck from eating at an elevated feeder, the risk of bloating trumps this benefit.

Say you have a 14-year-old Basenji (a breed not particularly prone to bloat) with a severe case of canine arthritis in the neck, spine, and legs.

You want to use an elevated feeder to assist with posture-related pain and strain.

Common sense indicates that using an elevated feeder in this instance would be beneficial.

Potentially alleviating pain and strain and would not pose concerns of increased risk of canine bloat.

Whatever your decision, definitely speak with your veterinarian before making a switch to a new dog feeder.

Explain the concerns that you have and ask for advice on the best methods to fix them.

Maybe the answer is elevated food bowls for dogs, and maybe it's not.

Common Questions About Elevated Food Bowls for Dogs

If you still have any lingering questions about elevated food bowls for dogs, the following information should help. 

Should a Dog’s Food Bowl Be Elevated?

You should consider elevating your dog’s food bowl if he is elderly or has issues with his joints or bones. Stick to other options if your dog is a larger breed. 

Why Are Elevated Dog Bowls Bad?

Elevated dog bowls are only bad for certain dogs. Specific breeds are at a higher risk of bloat if they eat from an elevated bowl. 

Do Elevated Dog Bowls Help?

Yes, elevated dog bowls can help your dog, especially if he has bad joints or bones. It can reduce the strain on his joints, including his hips and neck. 

Do Raised Dog Food Bowls Cause Bloat?

Depending on the breed, elevated food bowls for dogs can cause bloat. Luckily, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk.

Let your pup take advantage of an elevated bowl. 

Are our Raised Dog Bowls Dangerous?

As long as you know the risk of bloat and take proper precautions, raised dog bowls are not dangerous. To be safe, consult your dog’s vet before switching him to an elevated bowl.

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5 Benefits of Elevated Food Bowls for Dogs- Myths or Facts-

Patrick has been a long-time dog adopter and currently lives with his two dogs - Tarzan and Loki - in Brooklyn, NY. He is a certified dog trainer, writer on all things dogs, animal shelter volunteer, freelancer researcher of animal sciences and aspiring author.