Elevating your dog's food bowl is good for his neck and shoulders, especially if you have a bigger dog -- imagine how you would feel having to eat at a tiny table. If you don't choose the proper height though, that's just as bad, and may even lead to a deadly problem if you aren't careful.
Measuring the Height
If you want to save your dog the trouble of stooping over every time he wants to chow down, elevating his bowl can help. First, measure your dog. Only one measurement counts here, and that's the height of his shoulders when he's standing up on all fours. Take that measurement, subtract 6 inches, and presto -- that's where the bottom of the bowl should be.
Dogs are creatures of habit, and as long as they're being fed, they generally don't mind if the bowl is elevated or not. While an elevated bowl may be more comfortable, what your dog really cares about isn't how he eats, but when. Dogs thrive on routine, so try your best to feed him at the same times every day. Twice a day is typically ideal for dogs, but in some cases, you may want to feed him more often. Puppies, for example, need to eat more frequently than adult dogs. If you aren't sure how often to feed your dog, ask your veterinarian for an individualized opinion.
The Bloat Problem
Bloat is an eating-related condition that kills thousands of dogs every year, and it acts so quickly that you may not even realize what's happening until it's too late. When bloat strikes, the stomach swells to an abnormal size, and sometimes even flips over. It cuts off the blood flow internally and causes a deadly buildup of gas inside your dog's stomach that kills him within hours. The reason this all matters is because the height of your food bowl and the way you feed your dog can influence whether or not this happens.
While experts admit that the exact causes of this condition aren't all clear, according to "USA Today," eating too fast and using an elevated bowl may be risk factors. Unfortunately, bloat strikes most often in bigger dogs, who are more likely to benefit from the ease of an elevated bowl. There are two solutions to the quandary, though. First, you can feed your dog more frequent, smaller meals. This prevents him from scarfing down a massive portion, which can cause bloat. Second, you can give him a bloat-prevention bowl. This type of bowl has large shapes molded in the bottom, which force him to slowly eat around them. He is effectively prevented from eating too fast, which is a known cause of bloat.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.