Raised Feeders Can Be Dangerous for Large Breed Dogs
A couple of years ago I wrote a blog advising against using a raised feeder, which can be dangerous for a large breed dog because it can cause the medical condition bloat. That blog I wrote has been one of the top ten of my most read blogs, so I thought I should revisit the topic for people who might still be thinking that providing a raised bowl for their big dog is doing him a favor — when it can actually put the dog in jeopardy!
There was a time when raised feeders were recommended for big breed, deep-chested dogs, however that advice has since been reversed. While some controversy lingers about whether raised feeders are good or bad, the issue was studied in a scientific way at a university veterinary department which found that raised feeders are actually a danger for at-risk breeds of dogs because they can lead to bloat, the very life-threatening medical condition that the raised feeders were once thought to prevent!
Dogs are animals “designed” to eat with their heads down to the ground, which is where it is natural for for them to chew and swallow. With a raised feeder, a dog is eating at his knee level or at chest level (depending on how tall the dog is and how high the feeder) which is an unnatural position for the way dogs swallow, causing the intake of air. People were told the wrong thing when they were advised to raise the feeding bowl, which interfered with the dog’s natural position of putting her head all the way down to eat and drink – but then nobody told those owners to get rid of the feeders!
Raised feeders are unnecessary except for dogs who have physical challenges like back, neck or hip problems — where putting their head to the ground (the natural normal eating position) is genuinely difficult for them because of joint issues or extreme arthritis. My dog Jazzy has that problem — arthritis in her front ankles and knees makes it really hard to bend all the way down. However, even a dog whose physical compromise is helped by a raised feeder, still should be watched to make sure she doesn’t gulp and eat too fast, which can be a trigger for bloat. That means someone should keep an eye on that dog for the hour after eating, which is when bloat can develop.
Here are a couple of useful articles about the dangers of raised feeders and the relationship to bloat: VetInfo.com has an article titled How an Elevated Dog Feeder Could Lead to Bloat and Hibourne Weimaraners, a breeder website, connects bloat and raised feeders.
P.S. This raised feeder issue only applies to large breed dogs — if you have small dogs and want to use a nice little raised feeder, knock yourself out! My sister Holly’s little Brussels Griffons Sprout and Lulu both eat their Halo Small Breed Spot’s Stew out of their own decorative raised feeders.
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