Should Large Breed Dogs Eat From Elevated Bowls

Raised feeders are a popular option for large dog breeds. This almost seems like a no-brainer, given that it just seems obvious that it’s better and more comfortable for a tall dog to not have to bend over to eat or drink.

And raised bowls for big dogs do have several potential benefits. However, they also come with risks.

In this article, We’ll look at both the risk of bloat from raised feeders and the potential benefits of big dogs having raised bowls.

To answer the question “should big dogs have raised bowls” you need to look at all the facts, talk to your vet about your dog’s specific situation, and then make a decision from there.

The Risk of Bloat from Raised Feeders

The biggest risk that your dog could face from eating from an elevated bowl is a condition called bloat.

A study done by Purdue University in November of 2000 stated that “even in the multivariate analysis, raising the feed bowl appears to significantly increase, and not decrease, the risk of GDV (bloat).”

The risk of bloat is something that you should take seriously. It kills dogs, sometimes even with medical intervention.

What Is Bloat / GDV?

Bloat is also called Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV). The bigger your dog, the higher the risk of bloat.

Bloat is often lethal and if your dog experiences this condition you need to get them medical help right away. The best chance your dog has to survive an instance of bloat is to be seen by a vet immediately.

GDV occurs when a dog’s stomach twists and then fills up with gas. The symptoms include a swollen stomach, more drooling than usual, and heavy breathing or panting. Sometimes dogs will also dry heave and appear to be in pain.

Dogs that are over 100 pounds have the highest rates of bloat. Be especially careful with using a raised feeder for a dog that is this large.

What Does the Research Say?

A study published by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) shows that the risk of bloat nearly doubles for dogs that are fed from raised bowls.

This research was done with 1,637 dogs that had no previous history of GDV and they were followed at one-year intervals to see if the dogs developed bloat.

Dogs that ate faster, were older, or who had a close relative who had experienced bloat were also at higher risk.

If you have a large or giant breed dog, it’s always a good idea to check with your vet to see if they think that a raised bowl could put your dog at a higher risk of life-threatening GDV.

Raised Feeders to Ease Joint Pain and Discomfort

Now that We’ve covered the major risk of feeding your dog from an elevated bowl, let’s go over some of the benefits.

Some people believe that using a raised bowl for a large or giant breed dog will help to prevent joint problems down the road. We haven’t seen good evidence for this, but some dogs who already have arthritis do benefit from eating from a raised bowl.

Joint pain can make it painful for dogs to reach a bowl that is on the floor and can make them less interested in eating anything. Not eating is clearly problematic for dogs.

If you are feeding your dog from a bowl on the floor and they have joint discomfort, then feeding them from an elevated bowl can help to make them more interested in food.

Raised Feeders After Surgery

If your dog has recently had surgery, then it may find it easier to eat from a raised feeding station while they are recovering.

Surgery can cause pain and it can help if your dog doesn’t have to reach down so far to get to their food and water. Always closely supervise your large dog’s eating and drinking after surgery and follow your vet’s suggestions.

Elevated Bowls for Megaesophagus

Another condition where raised bowls can help large dogs is megaesophagus. This funny-sounding condition happens when the dog’s esophagus is bigger than normal and the food gets stuck in the throat. The esophagus will also lose its ability to move food into the stomach.

This can cause vomiting and discomfort for your dog. Your dog may regurgitate both water and food. They can lose weight and make a gurgling noise when they swallow.

You can reduce the symptoms of megaesophagus by using a raised bowl for your dog. The raised bowl will help the dog get the food down better even with an enlarged esophagus.

Always ask your vet if using a raised food bowl is a good idea for a dog with a medical condition. If you think your dog may have megaesophagus make sure you seek the advice of a veterinarian.

Tall Bowls Are Often Easier for Humans

Bowls on the floor often get tipped over by dogs and can create a huge mess. A weighted, elevated food and watering station can minimize or even eliminate this problem, creating a more hygienic environment.

If your big breed dog is often tipping over the water and food bowl then getting a raised and weighted feeding station can avoid these problems.

In Summary

There are both pros and cons to feeding your dog from a raised bowl. If you have a big dog that is over 100 pounds they are already at higher risk of developing the dangerous condition called bloat and a raised food bowl will make the risk of bloat higher.

Even “smaller” large breed dogs in the 50 to 100-pound range have a higher risk for bloat from eating out of a raised dog bowl.

However, if you have a dog with joint pain, who has just gotten out of surgery, or that has megaesophagus, then a raised food bowl can often be quite helpful.

Check with your vet to evaluate the risks versus the benefits of an elevated bowl for your large dog.

Scroll to Top