If you have a dog, you know that food time is one of a dog’s favorite times. But you might sometimes notice, particularly in large breeds, that dogs need to lean their head the way down just to eat and drink out of a bowl on the floor? If you have a dog yourself, especially if you have a bigger dog, you might notice that your dog needs to stretch down to the floor in order to eat and drink. Some folks notice this and consider getting elevated dog bowls for their dogs. Whether a raised bowl makes a real difference will usually depend on who your ask. That’s why we have done the research and tried elevated dog bowls with our own dogs to try and get the scoop on whether elevated dog bowls are a good idea or not.
Elevated dog bowls or raised dog bowls are becoming more and more popular these days, as dog parents try to make sure they avoid bloat or other issues with their dogs. Raised dog bowls for large dogs and small dogs have become popular. Raised bowls are advertised to help with everything from neck pain in big dogs like Great Danes to messy eaters like many flat faced dogs. Let’s be honest though- most dogs are messy eaters! So does it follow that most dogs will benefit from elevated food and water dishes? We made this post to find out!
In this post, we will discuss everything about elevated dog bowls—including the myths, real benefits, and drawbacks. We will also teach you how to choose the right size of a dog bowl stand for your dog.
What is an Elevated Dog Bowl Stand?
An elevated dog bowl stand is a dog bowl that’s elevated up off the floor level, sitting on a small stand—it’s exactly what it sounds like. Typically, there are two designs which you can choose from, one has cutouts that two stainless steel bowls fit into, and the other is a solid platform where the bowl sits on top. They can be single or double bowl capacity, but we think that it’s easier to have the dog’s food bowls and water dish both elevated.
There are elevated dog feeders with many different styles- wood, plastic, metal, etc. are all available to match your home decor. At the very least, we have found that if you do get elevated bowls for your dog, choose an elevated bowl stand with two bowls and non slip feet. More importantly, the appropriate size of the dog bowl stand depends on the size of the dog. A Great Dane will need a higher raised bowl while a beagle will need a lower one. Take your dog’s age into account, too. A feeding platform for older dogs is a good idea- it gives your dog easier access to their food and will give you less mess to worry about.
There are also adjustable elevated dog bowls that you can use to find the perfect height for your pup to eat and drink from their dog bowls. Obviously, the best dog bowls are going to be the ones that are most comfortable for your pup. So think of getting an adjustable feeder if you aren’t sure about the height you should keep your dog’s elevated food bowls. Luckily, we also have a guide on elevated feeder height below- it’s easy to ballpark the required height of your dog’s food and water bowl if you just know your dog’s height.
Benefits of an Elevated Dog Bowl Stand
Even though there are myths that are yet to be explored, elevated dog bowl stands provide some proven benefits for dogs:
Comfortable Eating Posture
If you ever notice, dogs tend to lean their head down every time they have to eat and drink. Raising their bowl will help them eat more comfortably, especially for dogs that are that are older, injured or struggle with orthopedic conditions, spine disorders and other issues.
Easier Swallowing of Food
When dogs lean their head down, the food and water need to be transported up the esophagus before reaching down the stomach. An elevated dog bowl stand promotes easier ingestion since dogs don’t have to lean their head all the way down.
Helps Get Rid of Paddling or Digging Behavior
Some dogs tend to play with their water bowl when it’s on the ground. This behavior usually leaves the water bowl area soaking wet—a habit that’s pretty common with puppies and dogs that love the water. With an elevated stand, you can help eliminate this activity since the water bowl is slightly raised off the ground, which can discourage them to play with water.
Does not Slide across the Floor
You might be tempted to just get a rubber mat when your dog’s bowl ends up sliding all over the floor. But spending a few extra dollars to make your dog more comfortable while eating is 100% worth it.
Slows Down Eating
Since their bowl is now in a standing position, closer to their mouth, it helps dogs slow down eating. This way, your dog can more thoroughly chew their food before swallowing, which promotes healthier digestion.
Dog Bowl Stands That My Dog Likes
One fun part of doing research is letting my dog try out new things. In this case, I had my dog try out some of the highest-rated dog bowl stands. How did I find out what my dog likes? Well, I wasn’t exactly scientific, but I would buy a few at a time, load them each up with food, and see which stand my dog would go back to over and over. Now that I write it out, it is quite scientific! I had some priorities- easy cleaning elevated bowls were a big thing for me (I already have dishwasher safe bowls, I recommend you get some too!) I wanted to promote healthy digestion for my dog, so I experimented with a few different heights as well. After some time with these elevated dog bowls, my dog ended up liking these few the most:
How to Choose the Size Right Dog Bowl Stand for your Dog
When choosing the right size, you just need to measure the elevated dog bowl stand along with your dog’s height—only from shoulders to feet. Since dog bowl stands come in different sizes, you can guarantee that you’ll be able to find the right one for your dog. For a visual example, make sure that the elevated dog bowl stand is aligned with your dog’s chest. This positioning helps them hold a more comfortable posture when eating.
But for specific measurements, you can just refer to the following general recommendation:
For small breeds, the best is about 2 to 6 inches of height for elevated dog bowls;
And for medium breeds, a range of 7 to 14 inches high is best for elevated dog bowls;
Lastly, for large breeds, we found 15 to 20 inches of height to be the best for raised dog bowls.
Myths about Elevated Dog Bowl Stands
There are some existing myths about elevated dog bowl stands that still haven’t been backed with in-depth analysis or research to date. That means that there’s no hard data behind these supposed benefits of dog bowl stands, other than user reviews and other anecdotal evidence.
Here are the three myths about elevated dog bowls:
Reduces Bloats in Large Dog Breeds
There is not enough scientific evidence or research to support this claim. It still remains questionable whether an elevated dog bowl stand can really reduce bloating in large dog breeds or not. However, some studies say that dog bowl stands may still create bloats in dogs, especially the ones that have sensitive stomachs. A raised dog bowl will not make your dog immune to bloat! There is anecdotal evidence from many owners that elevating dog food will help avoid bloat, but veterinarians have the final say, and they haven’t said that elevated bowls definitively reduce chances of bloat in dogs.
Creates Healthier Posture
The elevated dog bowl stand was first created to promote better and healthier posture. But dogs tend to have it in their nature to lean their head down when they’re eating or drinking. So, changing the very posture they have grown with doesn’t seem necessary to begin with. However, it can come to be beneficial for older or injured dogs, or dogs that struggle with arthritis or joint pain.
Promotes Cleaner Feeding Area
This myth does not involve science nor coming from a rational basis. Dogs always have the tendency to spill some food off the bowl or their mouth, whether it is elevated or on the ground. We all want our dogs to be neater, but food and water will almost always end up on the kitchen floor, elevated dog bowl or not. Dogs will always be messy!
Drawbacks of an Elevated Dog Bowl Stand
There are no drawbacks to an elevated dog bowl stand. However, the vet & pet community has not come to a conclusion about whether dog bowl stands eliminate bloat or not. Some research studies claim that instead of preventing bloat, an elevated dog bowl stand increases the chances of bloat—especially with the large breeds of dogs. But these studies are not the final word, and aren’t entirely accepted by the pet world. Still, not preventing bloat is probably why some people get frustrated with dog bowl stands, since they were primarily created to prevent bloat in dogs.
Bloat, or “Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV)”, is a critical condition which can be life-threatening if medical intervention is not provided as soon as possible. It usually occurs when the dog’s stomach is filled up with gas, which can be joined by obstructions and/or pressure, causing the stomach to twist or flip over. This will basically block both entry and exit points of the stomach, which usually results in pain, vomiting, decreased blood circulation and other serious issues in your dog. It is an emergency situation because it can kill your dog very quickly.
Final Word on The Dog Bowl Stand
Although numerous research studies are in conflict with what the elevated dog bowl stand primarily endorses—the prevention of bloat— many dog owners, myself included, think that it at least makes dogs more comfortable when eating. Moreover, we’re all aware that some myths are still left unverified, but if you look on the brighter side, an elevated dog bowl stand still poses quite a good number of benefits. So while all the rumored benefits are still unproven, a dog bowl stand is a win-win for you and your dog.