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.

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.

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 54 comments
  • Golfguy
    Reply

    Thank you for your informative article. As you mention, it is important not to jump to many conclusions. Your comment “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” may have been initially directed towards aiding a dog with separation anxiety. I know keeping the dog busy when you leave helps. Also, having a dog hunt a little, eat a little, hunt a little, eat a little increases the amount of time it takes for a dog to finish eating his food. This could aid against bloat. However, leaving “stashes” of raw food all over the house with multiple dog’s in the same house would not be feasible. Otherwise, the “ridiculous” trainer may not be so ridiculous.

  • JP
    Reply

    Hi,

    We’ve purchased a miniature French Poodle puppy December, 2017, shortly after birth. The puppy is still with the mother and breeder and will be ready for her new home end of this month. We are currently debating what food will be the best of her. We came across Royal Canin Poodle Junior (up to 10months) for dry food and Royal Canin Educ Treats for training etc. Are you or any other Poodle owners familiar with this food? Also, will raised feeding bowls of 3cm from ground be enough or good enough to prevent future problems. Many thanks.

    • Rebecca Yee
      Reply

      Hi there! I suggest this to everyone because I have learned so much about the dog food industry. Go to DogFoodAdvisor.com and do some research on the foods you would like to use. They do ratings on the foods according to content. It has helped me realize what goes into the foods. My dogs now get a 5 Star food based on what’s best for them. Since switching to a better quality food my dogs are more active and alert and overall more healthy. They are 14 and 7. 🙂

  • Mister E
    Reply

    I’d rather have my dogs eat from the ground than chance a raised bowl. I’d only use one if my dogs appear to be struggling in some way. Better safe than sorry.

    • janie
      Reply

      The chance that your taking by allowing them to eat from the ground is the real chance — not the raised bowl.

  • Nicole
    Reply

    Haven’t dogseaten from the ground for thousands of years? Which would make it the more “natural” position of the two?

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