If there’s one topic that can really get us going, it’s probably the issue surrounding elevated feeders for dogs.

For those of you that might not be familiar with this controversy, here’s a little background on the argument surrounding whether it’s safe or not to use raised dog bowls.

A Little History Regarding The Raised Bowl Controversy

Back in 2004, Purdue University published findings of the Glickman Study on their website from what they called “research” regarding feeding the larger and giant breeds from elevated bowls.

They claimed that by feeding from raised bowls along with chest size, high fat diets and citric acid, larger dog breeds are at a higher risk of bloating.

Linda Arndt, a well respected breeder of Great Danes (more susceptible to bloat than any other breed) shares that this study was not research at all – it was simply a statistical study. What’s the difference?

Research means to establish new and original facts, while statistical studies are the collection, organization and interpretation of data which is what this appears to have been.

According to Linda, they simply gathered information on diet from the original study done on Great Danes. They then looked at the different dog food brands and pulled the ingredient information from each food – and this is how they came to their conclusion.

They basically pulled information from an older study and compared the results to the dog food ingredients and came up with something like this – if you take this and add that, then these are the results.

Not sure that makes the study valid or conclusive.

Raised Dog Bowls

Unnecessarily Scaring Dog Owners

Purdue scared the pants off dog owners that own large and giant breed dogs with this study. As a matter of fact, I hear it all the time from dog owners of all breeds and sizes that think raised dog feeders are a no-no.

Prior to this, Purdue University always taught that all large and giant breeds should be fed from elevated feeders and books from way back taught this as well.

Purdue’s idea of not feeding dogs from raised dishes was a statistical study – not Scientific research, and quite honestly this analysis, just doesn’t make sense.

We remember around the time that their study came out, we had just purchased raised dog bowls for our own dogs. All three of our dogs, including our deep chested Lab and deep chested very large Doberman were doing much better using elevated bowls.

We noticed a big difference with gas and burping, yet we were completely confused after reading the article. Should we switch back to feeding them on the floor or not?

After further research into the matter and watching our own dogs response, we chose to stick with using raised bowls for our dogs and we still do today.  The dog is more comfortable and doesn’t have to strain his neck and back to eat his meal from the floor.

Reputable and experienced breeders of large and giant breeds, know what works and go back to what they were taught before this study became available.

YOU MUST PAY CONSTANT ATTENTION TO YOUR DOG’S ENTIRE DIGESTIVE PROCESS BEFORE AND AFTER HE OR SHE EATS!

raised dog feedersStress Is Believed to Be a Large Factor

Stress of any kind is believed to be one of the biggest factors in dogs bloating.

Whether the stress is due to poor nutrition, nervousness, lack of exercise, dysfunction in the home, the over use of antibiotics causing a Ph imbalance, the dog being over vaccinated or hormonal issues; it is believed that all of these stress factors may contribute to bloating.

It’s VERY IMPORTANT that your dog’s feeding time, be a quiet time. Allow him or her to eat in peace. Having more than one dog, we always allow one dog to eat in the pantry (we call it her room) with the door closed, and the other to eat in our dining room.

Feeding time should be a quiet, relaxing time — before and after the dog actually eats.

PEACE WHILE EATING PLEASE

Allow your dog to eat without the threat of people or other animals walking around him or her while eating.  AVOID allowing children around the dog while he’s trying to enjoy his meal.

Read more about the symptoms of Bloat and how to prevent it here.

The Connection Between the Spine and Bloating

Dr. Peter Dobias is a reputable, Holistic Veterinarian who over the years, found a connection between the stomach and the spine.  He found that dogs who are prone to stomach problems will show symptoms of congestion, inflammation and sensitivity located directly at the thoracic lumbar junction of the spine.

He interviewed several emergency veterinarians and asked if they found vertebral degeneration, arthritis or spondylosis when reviewing the X-rays of dogs who have bloated. The vets confirmed that those symptoms are commonly present in bloated dogs, which confirmed Dr. Dobias’ theory that back problems are a predisposed influence for Gastric Dilation Volvulus.

Bottom line: Paying close attention to your dog’s spine and including a monthly exam, plays a very important role in preventing bloating.  I’ve used acupuncture on my dogs and they love it. It has helped tremendously for many things.  Dr. Dobias suggests using either acupuncture, physiotherapy, massage or intramuscular needle stimulation for your dog’s back issues.

If you’re not sure, a good Chiropractor that works on animals can certainly help.

raised dog bowls for dogs

It’s Not The Bowl – It’s What’s Inside the Bowl!

Owning Dobermans and large labs over 100 lbs, and very susceptible to bloating for 30 years, we do not believe that bloat has anything to do with raised feeders, despite that every website out there follows suit that “it’s the bowl” issue.

We’ve been feeding our own bloat susceptible large dogs out of raised feeders for years and firmly believe that it’s all about what’s inside that raised bowl along with several other factors!

We hear it all the time from dog owners; “I feed a good quality kibble.”  While there may be better brands of kibble; the truth of the matter is that kibble is kibble.  Dogs digest natural forms of protein better than anything else. And, based upon our own experience, dogs digest raw forms of meat protein better than anything else.

The wrong diet weakens the stomach lining.  The stronger the stomach lining, the less susceptible your dog is to bloating.  Be concerned with strengthening your dog’s stomach lining and avoiding excess air intake.

Reputable veterinarians such as Dr. Dobias say that over time, grain based kibble diets weaken the stomach walls making a dog more susceptible to bloating.  Learn more about feeding raw diets to older dogs here.

You MUST Pay Constant Attention to the Stomach – WATCH and LISTEN!!

One of the most ridiculous recommendations for avoiding bloat that we have read was from a dog trainer who recommends that you toss the kibble all over the house and have the dog search for it.

Working and studying dogs for more than 30 years, we believe that Bloat is definitely a predisposed condition for many large breeds.  We also believe that it has everything to do with what type of diet you feed, the overall health of your dog, stress factors and so on.

About Maggie

Our dog Maggie with her basketball

Our Maggie is 100 lbs of lean muscle with a deep chest.  She eats a very high protein diet with a combination of raw and cooked foods.  NO KIBBLE.

If we hear any rumbling going in the belly, we’re on full alert!  If we notice the belly looking full, we’re on full alert!  If we notice ANY unusual behavior, we’re on full alert!

The only time this happens, and it’s rare, is if we do something we shouldn’t have.  Such as, giving Maggie something we know isn’t good for her like overly fatty foods.

OUR POINT IS: We believe that it’s a matter of looking at your dog’s health and the big picture as a whole, and not just one detail such as feeding from an elevated feeder or not. Your dog’s digestive process is much more complicated than just choosing to feed from the floor or off the floor.

We recently read an article authored by a Vet who cited a study and warned dog owners about using elevated feeders.  However, he was contacted by another Vet from Colorado  in the comment section of his blog, who warned that he should be careful with telling dog owners that feeding from the floor will prevent bloat.  It included another excellent comment from Lazaro who at the time owned 8 Danes and like us, fed them raw from elevated feeders and never had a problem.

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Showing 38 comments
  • Andra
    Reply

    I just brought home a 37 pound Saint Bernard 4 weeks ago. In a week he was 42 pounds and in another 3 weeks he has reached 53 pounds. I was giving him 4 ounces of water at a time aand a cup of food at a time in order to not get the bloat. This morning I conferred with two vets who said collosally large dog owners swear by raised dog bowls plus it was ok to give 16 ounces of water at a time and two cups of food at a time with a relaxing period before going out to potty. It gives them time to digest and the stomach will not bloat leading to the dangerous twisting or flipping of the stomach.

    • admin
      Reply

      Hi Andra:
      Thanks for the helpful comment. I would definitely recommend giving your big boy probiotics as well. If you notice alot of rumbling going on in his belly, look to digestive enzymes as well. I love St. Bernards – big, silly, gentle giants. 😮

  • Steven Smith
    Reply

    I just had to have my female GSD euthanized last night because of severe bloat. I previously had no real knowledge of the warning signs until it was too late. There was a gurgling sound coming from her, but she seemed quite normal otherwise, so I called the vet to ask about it and they said it could just be gas but failed to mention the possibility of bloat. I had been feeding her from a raised bowl every night which made me wonder why the symptoms showed up so long after she had eaten the previous night. Not having a clue about the real situation, I went ahead and fed her again last night and she ate it as normal- so I thought “dogs with bloat refuse to eat”, boy was I wrong. All I knew was that bloat was really bad. However, she would frequently chase the other dogs around the yard which could have done it. The Vet at the emergency hospital we took her to last night said that it was not from anything that we did, but with the image of her last breath as she lay with her head in my lap has me second guessing everything about it. I’m now especially concerned about my younger male GSD who still eats out of a raised bowl. I still don’t think it was the bowl. God I miss her!

    • admin
      Reply

      Hi Steven:
      I am so very sorry to hear about your girl. This has to be terrible for you. Please take comfort in knowing that YOU DID the right thing by feeding her from a raised bowl. Good breeders of Great Danes who die from bloat more than any other breed – will tell you that it’s critical that you feed large dogs from raised bowls. Can I ask what type of food you are feeding? Digestive Enzymes can help a great deal with bloating and gas. Don’t ever rely solely on a dog food (even high end) that says they include probiotics and digestive enzymes. It’s not enough. The potency breaks down during the cooking process.

      I’ll be thinking of you. I know what it’s like to miss them!
      Janie – Admin

  • Steven Smith
    Reply

    Thank you. Yes it has been extremely hard on us. I fed her Purina One – Lamb & rice, and I also gave her N-zymes pet antioxidant treats.

    • admin
      Reply

      Hi Steven:
      My bet would be the brand of food that you are feeding that caused the problem. Purina products are one of the lower grade dog foods. Often times dogs go for years eating the same food with what appears to be “no problem”. Because we’re all so busy in our day to day lives, it’s easy not to notice subtle symptoms with our pets and I’m not saying that’s the case with you.

      I’m very glad to hear that you understand the importance of digestive enzymes. Unfortunately, using pet enzymes in the form of a treat doesn’t provide the same benefits as actually adding live enzymes to their food. Live enzymes help with bloating and gas and should be given daily in form of powder in which you add to your dogs meal. It doesn’t take much at all and the product goes a long way. My dogs get 1/4 teaspoon with each meal. This cuts down on gas and bloating tremendously.

      Janie 😮

  • Melissa
    Reply

    Okay, just putting it out there, but how can “good breeders of Great Danes” know that they are preventing bloat by feeding from a raised bowl? You can’t prove something is a preventative without a control group. How do we know good breeders of Great Danes just don’t breed from dogs particularly susceptible to bloat through some unrelated coincidence of selection? Incidentally, there are other studies more recent than the Purdue one that also implicate raised bowls in bloat cases. You, my friend, do not have all the facts. You are giving your own opinion, which is not even backed up by numbers like the Purdue study was. That makes you a wee bit hypocritical, don’t you think?

    • admin
      Reply

      Hypocritical, no I don’t think so. I’d love to hear your version of how the Purdue study was actually done Melissa since you obviously have all the facts. Speaking of control groups, from what I understand the Purdue study was a statistical study and that is much different than actual research, my friend. There’s alot to be said for common sense. Good breeders know their dog’s bloodlines Melissa so “unrelated coincidence of selection” is unlikely!

      You are under the impression that studies can only be done in a lab. It doesn’t take rocket science to do a study or a trial using raised dog feeders.

      Won’t you share the more recent studies with us that you mentioned.

  • Lesley
    Reply

    I came across this post while doing research for an article on raised dog bowls.

    I have to say that the possibility of bloat being exacerbated by the use of raised bowls is a big concern to me. I have a web site on raised dog bowls and was under the impression that they helped prevent bloat, in addition to their other benefits.

    After reading this I do feel better recommending raised bowls and intend to link my own post to this one.

    I love your site. I never thought I would be such a dog lover until I met Duke and Daisey; my two little old dogs – Chihuahuas. Their health and well being are so very important to me!

    Lesley

    • admin
      Reply

      Hi Lesley:
      Thank you so much for your kind words; I really appreciate it. I also appreciate you linking to our page to make others aware of the raised dog bowl issue. I’ve been feeding my large, deep chested dobermans and yellow labs from raised bowls for years.

      As human beings we often have a tendency to disregard common sense for the sake of status.

      I’m very glad to hear that the “dogs” recruited another one! They have a way of doing this, don’t they? Your passion is obvious and you’re a very good dog mom…. Thanks again Lesley for sharing your comment with us!

      Janie

    • Tee
      Reply

      Who raises the wolves bowls?

      • yourolddog
        Reply

        Wolves don’t live on kibble and garbage food. They eat what’s natural to them, allowing them to better digest their food, period!

  • Rob
    Reply

    I have a 11. 7 yr old Chesapeake Bay/Mastiff Mix female, at one time she weighed in at 117lbs but is now 97lbs to help with her hips and back. I have fed her from a raised bowl since she hit her full height and never a problem. Our current GSD, and previous, (both around 100lbs) eat from raised bowls systems. I have noticed over the years that they are much more comfortable eating like that.

    The big key is NOT to let them go running around and being goofy after eating for 30 – 50 minutes……big chore if you have a GSD. LOL They DEFINITELY are high energy, just have to control them for a little bit until the food has digested.

    Thanks for the article, made complete sense.

    • admin
      Reply

      Hi Rob:
      I completely agree with you. Wow, what a big girl you have and what a pretty mix I bet! No running or excitement after eating, giving the body time to digest the food. I have a friend who has a 1 year old GSD and what a ball of energy he is too.

      I’m glad you liked the article – thank you! ~Janie 😮

  • Harlan
    Reply

    Another aspect of this topic deals with handicapped pets. Dogs with rear leg paralysis as well as those with front leg abnormality will benefit from use of a raised platform for their food bowls. Dogs with wheelchairs where the wheel support is in the front, benefit when they don’t have to lie down to eat. Dogs with rear leg disability can sit to eat but with the bowls on the floor it puts excess strain on their neck and shoulders

    • admin
      Reply

      Hi Harlan:
      Thank you so much for sharing. This IS another EXCELLENT reason why raised bowls for dogs are helpful!
      Janie 😮

  • David
    Reply

    Hi:
    I agree with the raised dog bowl issue. I own a Dane who had Bloat and a $2600 dollar surgery. Many nights of worrying, but he is still here. How he got bloat is not sure. I studied the breed before I got him and have always used raised bowls and never let him exercise after eating or drinking.

    All I can say is that every vet I have ever talked to swore by raised bowls, so I have to believe them.
    David Rines

    • admin
      Reply

      Hi David:
      Thanks for sharing your comment on the raised dog bowl issue. I’m so sorry that your Dane bloated and that you both had to go through such a rough ordeal. It’s a horrible thing. One thing that I wanted to mention is that diet may also play a role in bloating. I’m not sure what food or what type of diet you feed, but I’m not a big fan of kibble and especially so for dogs where bloat may be a concern.

      Janie

  • Chrissy
    Reply

    Hi! I have a Daniff/Great Dane mix. He’s 4 & weighs 165.4 lbs as of this morning’s check. I have been feeding him from a raised feeder since I adopted him at about a little over a year old. He has been trained & certified through the Army as my service dog. Following the Great Dane Lady, I have tried several food variations and found that home cooked meals, Whole N One supplements, and Bak Pak Plus probiotics work best for him. I came down with a serious stomach bug last week that lasted about 4 days of me sleeping. (Phenergran, calms the stomach, but makes you SLEEP.) My big boy apparently stressed himself out & decided to mow the backyard. He has seperation anxiety & I had no idea he was eating grass instead of pottying outside. He started to bloat yesterday right after lunch & off to the ER we RAN. They removed about 4 lbs of grass from his stomach. It was a close call, but he’s completely fine today. My Vet told me in a follow up that I scheduled this morning that new studies say I should feed him on the floor instead of from a raised bowl. I was skeptical & decided to do my own research. Everything I’m finding disagrees.
    I watched a video of Irish Wolfhound breeders training their dogs to lay down & eat versus standing with a raised bowl. What are your opinions on this if you wouldn’t mind? Almost losing my best friend last night has me horrified!
    Thank you,
    Chrissy

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Hi Chrissy:

      I’m really sorry to hear about your big boy. That’s tough….

      I’m an avid believer in raised bowls and many traditional vets say that dogs should be fed from the floor. However, this goes back to the same type of study that Perdue did. I had a woman leave a comment here on my page saying “I wonder if the wolves ate from raised feeders?” I responded to her sarcasm with: “Wolves didn’t (don’t) live on junk kibble and dry food every day of their lives.”

      I’m not sure what you’re feeding, but if you could let me know, I’d be more than happy to help.

      Janie

      • Chrissy
        Reply

        Today was my first time to see this particular Vet. I believe she’s new to the office. I’ve always been told how great I’m doing. I make large pots of bone broth, remove the bone (leaving the meat, cartilage, & marrow), and add sliced chicken, ground beef, & appropriate veggies to make a thick stew. Sometimes I do stir fries, so to speak, with sweet potatoes, coconut oil, & pork. Sometimes, I do hamburger meat with potatoes, green beans, scrambled eggs, & mix with some white rice soaked in milk. I’ve even done salmon with spinach over white rice. I’m always switching it up. I feed him twice a day. Like I said before, I use supplements with prebiotics & proboitics. He gets free range exercise daily.
        Today she told me that the rice needs to go because of arsenic, I need to feed him on the floor, & I should start blending his food in a processor so he absorbs more nutrients. She also told me that studies show leaner dogs live longer & suggested a diet. (He’s in no way over weight.) Total information overload. I just had to come home & pop my computer open. Study time!

        • yourolddog
          Reply

          Hi Chrissy:

          Stress is very closely related to bloating and I think the stress of you being sick is what caused his distress. They know us way too well!

          I know all about the arsenic in rice, because I have to eat gluten free. I still eat rice and I still eat pasta probably four times a week. Look at the Asian population, much of their cuisine is served over rice, regularly. So, do I think you need to give up rice, no. I would however limit the rice intake to roughly 10% of his total diet. I’m also not sure why you’re soaking the rice in milk? I think your diet is outstanding and I commend you for it. I truly do NOT feel that his diet or especially his raised bowl had anything at all to do with him bloating.

          Don’t stress yourself out worrying about what the vet said and what you need to change. YOU know your dog better than anyone. Does he constantly eat grass? Again, then maybe we need to eliminate, change or add something to the diet. If he doesn’t and he only tends to eat it during times of stress (eg: when you’re not yourself), then I think keeping something on hand that will calm him, such as Valerian Root would be helpful.

          I also recommend that you read my page on bloat. Pay close attention to his grazing and stop him when you see him. Pay very close attention any noises coming from his stomach which could indicate belly issues including too much stomach acid.

          If you told me that he was constantly eating grass, then I would say, we need to take a look at his diet.

          I hope this helps.

          Janie

  • Kevin-
    Reply

    We had to put down our female Great Dane a couple months ago due to bloat and were using “Raised Feeding Platform/Bowels” So I also concerned your article is very misleading and the raised platform feeding issue is a major issue/concern of Dane owners. I too was adding live enzymes and Premium pro-biotic dog food to our beloved girl so add that to your stats, which are lacking with scientific proof. Raised Bowels are an issue with Danes and just because the almighty great dane lady says otherwise is quite honestly medical nonsense. Raised bowels/feeders need to make the national news, it’s that bad.!!!!!

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Hi Kevin:

      I’m very sorry about the loss of your beloved Great Dane.

      However, I’ve owned Dobermans, Labs over 100 lbs, etc. and both of these breeds are prone to bloating just like Danes. I don’t believe the problem is with the bowls at all, but more with the food that’s going into the bowl. I noticed you were feeding a premium food, which I took as being kibble. And as much as I’m sorry for your loss; kibble in any type of bowl is not what nature intended your dog to eat and digestive enzymes and probiotics can’t repair a poor diet choice.

      I’m sorry, but science has nothing to do with this. Raw fed dogs are much less likely to bloat, period. Read this forum for yourself. I believe that raw should be first choice of food for every dog owner, unless your dog has a weakened immune system.

      Janie

  • Roberta Liford
    Reply

    I was really just looking for info on raised bowls or not, so I didnt read all the comments, and It may be too late to say anything useful, but I’m surprised that there was nothing on the bloat issue about a dog resting at least a half hour to an hour (depending on how strenuous the exercise was) before feeding. I usually wait at least a half hour after a walk or an hour after vigorous play and chasing, before feeding my Smooth Collie. Her breeder didn’t use a raised bowl, so I think I’ll just stay with that. Thanks

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Hi Roberta:

      Thanks for sharing your input and I completely agree about waiting to feed at least a half an hour before and after exercise or walking. Actually, I do include the exercise issue here on this page about bloating.

      Best of luck to your and your smooth collie. I love the breed. We actually rescued a Red Rough Collie when she was ten years old.

      Janie

  • tmp
    Reply

    When saying that “research means to establish new and original facts, while statistical studies are the collection, organization, and interpretation of data”, you’re only providing evidence that you don’t have a clue what you are talking about. What you call “statistical studies” is in fact “retrospective studies”, and what you call “research” is in fact “prospective studies”. Of course research includes both conducting experiments and studying already gathered data. Don’t you think historians ever establish new knowledge from already collected data?
    Then you go on about your own experience and the practices of some breeders you chose as the good ones. This shows that you have yet to learn everything about statistics and the scientific method – what it is, and how it helps to predict what will most likely happen when you use a raised bowl and when you don’t. The hard truth is: it takes some effort.

    • janie
      Reply

      You’re obviously either a vet, etc. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be so angry. You can twist things all you want. The truth of the matter is that THE BEST RESEARCH AND STUDIES come from dog owners themselves.

      I’m not interested in learning everything about statistics and the scientific method. In fact, I could care less. Both people and pet owners need to get back to the very basics of treating themselves and their pets naturally.

      I’m sorry if this offends you, but I’ll trust the studies that myself and others have done ourselves vs your “data” theory.

      Janie

      • tmp
        Reply

        I can’t see any anger in my comment. It’s sad that pets should suffer because of ignorance. To me, it seems you are the angry one, and that’s because seeing beliefs you fought for being challenged is hard. So hard that you can’t see the contradiction in wishing to treat pets “naturally” and feeding them in a way that would never happen in nature. So hard that you can even write that you are not willing to learn. In this instance, your care is directed at your ego, not any pet or owner’s well-being.

        • janie
          Reply

          Ego, really? I’m pretty sure that the ego issue is coming from your end. You’re inability to learn outside of your lab statistics says it all!

          • Engineer

            TMP, well said. I don’t think you sounded angry or egotistical at all. Just pointing out facts. As an engineer, facts are what I need, not opinions. Just like raising children, raising dogs requires the ability to constantly learn and adapt. Not everything that works for one person will be right for you or your dog. Janie is just unwilling to accept anything other than her experience as the golden rule.

          • janie

            As a dog owner, experience is what WE need and dog owners want hands on experience. Not controlled studies and results based upon these controlled studies. They trust other dog owners.

            “Learn and adapt” is exactly right. That’s why more and more pet owners are looking to whole, natural care.

            To say that “Janie is unwilling to accept anything other than her experience as the golden rule” is untrue. That is simply your opinion.

            Janie

  • rfg
    Reply

    Ive had 2 great danes a fawn and a blue merle.Both have eaten from raised bowls and got kibble and scraps like people used to do because it was cheaper to feed the dog that way.,I was told.Any way I may have been very lucky ,but the only time I was at the vet was for a yearly checkup.Ille stick with the best food and scraps in a raised bowl,thank you very much

    • janie
      Reply

      Thanks for sharing Ruth and I’m with you! Best food and even unfatty scraps and a raised bowl.

      By the way, I love danes! Gentle giants…. 🙂

      Janie

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