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The Pros & Cons of Elevated Dog Bowls – A Quick Guide

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By Nicole Cosgrove

wooden elevated dog feeder

If there’s one topic that can cause uproar between dog owners, it’s feeding time. What your dog eats, when it eats, how often it eats, these are all questions that spark debate. Another hot topic is whether or not your dog should be using an elevated dog bowl. While the science is still out on how effective they really are, there are key benefits to elevated dog feeders that may be great for your dog.

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About Elevated Dog Bowls

If your dog struggles or misbehaves at eating time, an elevated dog bowl may be right for you. There are different styles of feeders to fit your dog’s needs, ranging in overall size, materials, and design.

What are Elevated Dog Bowls?

Also known as elevated dog feeders, elevated dog bowls are simply dog bowls raised from the floor with a stand of some sort to keep it elevated. They come in a variety of sizes, so they’re useful for both toy-sized and large-sized dogs. Elevated dog feeders make your dog’s food closer and easier to eat, so a lot of dogs tend to prefer them. Elevated dog bowl stands are also great to keep water and food bowls together on one feeder, instead of having two separate bowls sliding around on the floor.

dog eating out of elevated dog bowl
Image Credit: Peteris Zalitis, Shutterstock

What Were Elevated Dog Bowls Originally Invented For?

Elevated dog bowls were first invented as a sure-fire way to prevent bloat, which refers to two life-threatening conditions: GD and GDV.

Gastric Dilatation (GD) causes your dog’s stomach to painfully fill with gas, which is already a serious medical emergency. Gastric Dilatation & Volvulus (GDV) is when the gas-filled stomach starts to twist on itself, which cuts off the circulation of the stomach and blood flow.

Both conditions are considered extremely dangerous and should be treated as soon as possible Call your vet immediately if your dog shows one or more symptoms of bloat:

  • Distended (bloated) stomach and abdomen
  • Anxious pacing and restlessness
  • Multiple failed attempts at vomiting
  • Rapid breathing, yawning, whining

Do Elevated Dog Feeders Actually Help with Bloat?

While they were first marketed as one of the best ways to prevent bloat, the truth is much foggier than what companies first claimed. The problem is that these claims went unchecked at first, but there is more data available now about the truth of elevated dog feeders.

While they can help with bloat, the risk is not as minimized as companies have claimed. Bloat tends to happen more to fast eaters and dogs who tend to eat a lot of air as they eat, so it really depends on your dog if an elevated bowl can help. If your dog is liable to get bloat, talk to your veterinarian about your options to prevent it.

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Pros of Elevated Dog Bowls

Regardless of its original purpose to prevent bloat, there are other benefits of using elevated dog feeders that may help your furry friend out. Here are some pros and cons of elevated dog feeders:

Overall Better Posture While Eating

Because they’re off the ground, elevated dog bowls naturally help your dog’s posture while eating. The raised dishes are at a more comfortable height, which will relieve some neck and joint stress from ground-level bowls. Make sure to find the right height for your dog to benefit from the elevated feeder.

Easier for Dogs to Eat

The raised height of elevated dog feeders makes access to food and water easier, especially for senior dogs that struggle to eat from traditional bowls. It also helps all dogs with eating more comfortably, since the angle of their neck changes with the elevation. If your dog tends to struggle with eating, an elevated dog bowl may alleviate some discomfort.

Labradoodle eating on elevated bowl
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

Sturdier & more stable than Normal Bowls

Elevated dog feeders can be especially beneficial if your dog would rather play with his dog bowls. They can be sturdier and stable than normal bowls, built to withstand pushing and sliding. Some elevated dog bowls are even designed to prevent tipping, scratching and biting, depending on the model and brand.

  • Better posture while eating
  • Easier for your dog to eat
  • More stable than traditional dog bowls

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Cons of Elevated Dog Bowls

As with most products in any category, there are some disadvantages to elevated dog bowls that may change your decision. Here are some disadvantages of elevated dog bowls:

Expensive Compared to Traditional Bowls

Dogs are expensive, no matter how you look at it. An elevated dog bowl is another expense that may be added to the list. While they may not cost hundreds of dollars, they can still get very costly for the more premium-grade models. Consider what the elevated bowl will do and if it would really help before purchasing one.

Harder to Clean and Maintain

With all of the nooks and crannies, the elevated dog bowl stands can be a real pain to clean and take care of. Some models may have multiple separate pieces, which can trap bacteria. Most elevated dog bowl stands are also not dishwasher safe, so you’ll have to handwash it.

kitchen sink tap water
Image: Unsplash

Doesn’t Prevent Messy Eating

If you have a messy eater, don’t hope for a miracle unless you buy an elevated dog bowl designed to be mess-free. Water will still be dripped and splashed around, just at a higher height. Extra-large breeds with big muzzles like the English Mastiff are notorious for their messy drinking and eating, so an elevated water bowl may not help with that at all.

  • More expensive than traditional bowls
  • Feeder stands can be hard to clean
  • Can still be really messy (especially slobbery dogs)
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Final Thoughts

There are many reasons to buy or not to buy an elevated dog bowl, but your dog’s health and wellness should always be a priority. If your dog may benefit from an elevated dog bowl, it may save you money in the long run. They’re great for most dogs, even for breeds as small as a Yorkshire Terrier.

Dogs are expensive, no matter how you crunch the numbers. Adding another product to the list may get costly, but elevated dog bowl stands are usually a one-time purchase. If you’re hesitant about spending the extra money, think about how it may benefit you and your dog in the long run. Also, you may end up buying an elevated dog bowl years later when your dog becomes a senior, so you may want to invest in a stand before that time comes.

If your dog struggles to eat while standing or tends to slide the bowl around, an elevated dog bowl may be the right option. It’s important to look for high-quality brands with features that benefit your dog’s eating habits. Except for a few small disadvantages, an elevated dog bowl can be a great investment for a more comfortable mealtime experience.

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Featured Image Credit: Peteris Zalitis, Shutterstock

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