As a dog owner, you’ve probably put a lot of thought into what type of food your dog eats…but have you ever thought about HOW they eat that food?
Elevated dog feeders are quickly gaining in popularity, but are they actually good for your dog’s health? More importantly, should you get an elevated dog feeder for your furry friend?
Unfortunately, that’s not a simple question to answer for two reasons. First, there haven’t been many significant studies on the topic of elevated dog feeders. Second, the few studies they have done contradict each other.
The primary contradiction revolves around a health concern called Canine Bloat (a severe medical condition we will discuss later). 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.
Usually, when two studies contradict like that, the answer is somewhere in the middle. We at Dogdorable believe the evidence leans more toward the fact that elevated feeders do increase the chances of Canine Bloat. However, that doesn’t mean an elevated feeder isn’t right for your dog.
We will go over the pros and cons below and let you decide if an elevated feeder is right for your dog. If you decide to get one for your pup, be sure to read the final part of this article, where we will show you how to decrease the chances of bloat when using an elevated feeder.
What is An Elevated Dog Feeder?
If you already know what an elevated dog feeder is, feel free to skip this brief description.
An elevated dog feeder is self-explanatory. It’s a device (that comes in many shapes and sizes) that lifts the food and water bowl up from floor level. You want the height to be right around shoulder level, so the dog doesn’t have to bend down very far to eat and drink.
Although this might be easier for your dog, is it the best option? Find out below.
The Pros to Elevated Dog Feeders
There are plenty of things to love about elevated dog feeders. In fact, the proper use of an elevated dog feeder can make the life of both you and your dog much easier. Let’s explore some of the pros.
Reduces Risk of Critters
When the food bowl is on the floor, it makes it easy for small critters such as ants, spiders, cockroaches, and other bugs to crawl into the food bowl. Heck, even rats might find their way to the food bowl to start feasting.
By using an elevated bowl, you’re reducing the risk that nasty bugs and rats/mice will get into your dog’s food.
Prevents Dog From Pushing The Bowl
We’ve all seen those dogs that don’t know how to control themselves when eating. Some dogs intentionally push the bowl around to play with the food and water. Other dogs get so excited when they eat, they’ll start unintentionally moving the bowl.
Whatever the case may be for your dog, the elevated dog feeder will keep that bowl in place. This means less for you to clean up later.
If your dog suffers from arthritis or any type of pain in the neck or spine, you should put serious thought into using an elevated feeder. The bowl will be placed right below neck level, which means they won’t have to put as much strain on the neck when eating and drinking.
Can Help Megaesophagus
Megaesophagus has been nicknamed the “Mega Problem” in dogs. For those that need a little touch 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.
Ideally, a dog with megaesophagus would eat in an upright position at about a 90-degree angle. When that’s not possible, an elevated dog feeder is the next best option.
Easier on You
The last reason you may want to consider getting an elevated feeder is that it will be easier on you! As previously discussed, there won’t be as much of a mess because your dog won’t be pushing the food bowl around, but it’s also much easier to clean the bottom of a food bowl when elevated off the floor. Many people leave the food bowl on the ground and never clean the bottom of it. This is a significant issue because the moist, dark environment is where bacteria thrive.
They’re also 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.
The Cons to Elevated Dog Feeders
All those pros listed above might make elevated dog feeders sound like a great idea, but there are plenty of cons to them as well.
The first thing we need to talk about is the price. Although they aren’t the most expensive dog item out there, a quality elevated feeder isn’t cheap. You can find a few low-quality ones for under $25, but the high-quality ones that will last for years are going to cost you $50 minimum. We recommend getting an adjustable one, which will bring the cost up even more.
Dog Might Eat Faster
This is the biggest negative to an elevated dog feeder. Those who claim that an elevated feeder can cause bloat, this is why. The faster the dog eats, the greater their chances of getting bloat. If you have a dog that is already a fast eater, an elevated feeder will cause them to eat even faster, which is never what we want.
Although this is a big negative, there is a way to slow down the speed at which your dog eats when using an elevated dog feeder…more on that below.
It’s Not Natural
While an elevated feeder might not bother some dogs, it will drive other dogs crazy! The reason for this is because elevated feeders go against natural instinct.
Think about a dog out in the wild. When they catch their prey, how do they eat it? They hover over it and begin eating. The reason they hover over it is to protect their food. They’re making sure no one else can come in and steal their meal.
Although your dog didn’t have to hunt down the kibble you’re feeding them, the instinct to hover over and protect is still there in some dogs.
You can tell if the instinct is there on your dog by watching how they eat. Do they keep their focus on the food? Or are they constantly looking over their shoulder? If they’re constantly looking around, their survival instincts are kicking in.
Should You Get an Elevated Dog Feeder?
Now that we have listed all the pros and cons, the next question you’re probably wondering is whether or not you should get one for your dog. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as black and white as most of you would like.
It depends on your dog. If your dog tends to make a massive mess when eating, if they have Megaesophagus, or if they are in pain, an elevated dog feeder might be worth trying. On the other hand, if your dog is already a fast eater and has strong survival instincts, it’s probably best to stay away from an elevated feeder.
Getting The Best of Both Worlds
As mentioned earlier, the biggest negative to an elevated feeder is the fact that they usually increase eating speed. The good news is that if you’re willing to spend a little more money, you can purchase a slow feeder dog bowl to go along with an elevated feeder. This will give you the best of both worlds because it will slow down the eating from the elevated position.
A quality slow feeder bowl will cost around $15. These bowls have elevated ridges in them to prevent your dog from taking massive bites. The ridges force the dog to eat fewer kibbles with each bite, which will slow down their eating speed.
If bloat is your biggest concern when it comes to an elevated dog feeder, use the slow feeder bowl to help prevent bloat.
With all the conflicting research out there, it can be hard to figure out if an elevated feeder is right for your dog. We hope that after going over the many pros and cons of elevated dog feeders, you’ll be able to make an educated decision. If you do end up buying one, consider purchasing a slow feeder bowl to go along with it.
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