Elevated Feeders and Bloat
Bloat, or gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), is a very serious and life-threatening medical condition in dogs. It occurs when a dog’s stomach expands and twists, putting pressure on other organs, and restricting proper blood flow to and from vital parts of the body. Bloat can occur very rapidly in dogs and requires immediate medical attention. Even with treatment, one quarter or more of dogs that develop bloat will die. All dog owners should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of bloat.
Causes, Risk Factors, and Controversy
The causes of bloat are not fully understood. It is known that large breed dogs, particularly those considered deep-chested, are at highest risk of developing bloat. Other factors, like increased age, having a first degree relative who has had bloat, rapid eating, and an anxious temperament have been correlated with an increased risk of bloat.
Still, the science of bloat is not well understood. As a result, many pet owners concerned about bloat struggle to determine what they should or shouldn’t do to lower their pet’s risk. One hotly debated topic is that of elevated food bowls.
What Science Doesn’t Say…
It used to be common belief that elevated food bowls were healthier for dogs, but this seems to have been based on anecdotal evidence. Excepting for a small number of specific medical conditions, there appears to be no scientific data that supports any medical benefits from elevated food bowls. That doesn't mean there aren't benefits, just that they haven't been proven scientifically.
What Science Does Say…
In the late 1990’s, researchers at Purdue University initiated a multi-year study related to bloat. Researchers analyzed the data in many ways, including a comparison of dogs that were reported to eat from an elevated feeder and those who did not. According to the study, “approximately 20 and 52% of cases of GDV (bloat) among the large breed and giant breed dogs, respectively, were attributed to having a raised feed bowl.”
But Science Isn’t Always Perfect…
Whilst the Purdue study appears damming of elevated feeding height, it was and remains only a single study. In a perfect world, a result like this would be followed up in multiple other studies and either confirmed or refuted. To our knowledge, no follow up studies have been concluded.
What’s an Owner to do…
Ultimately, we think this study strongly suggests a link between use of an elevated feeder and an elevated risk of bloat, particularly in large and extra large breed dogs, but without follow-up study, it isn't 100% conclusive. As such, every dog owner will need to weigh all the available information, consult their vet, and make their own decision about using an elevated pet feeder. Our default recommendation is to stick with feeding at floor level or in a non-elevated stand unless your vet recommends otherwise.
Low Rise Feeding Options
For those who do feel an elevated feeding height is best, we do have elevated stands to fit our large and extra large dog bowls. We also have a plethora of non-elevated options, like our low rise stands, non-skid bowl cozy's, and mats.