Owning a dog, let alone a Great Dane, can sometimes seem like a daunting task. Since you always want the best for them, there are sure to be many questions swirling around your head as you care for your new best friend. Do they need a kennel? How much exercise do they require? What are the healthiest foods for them? How should I feed them?
Traditionally, most dogs eat their kibble from bowls on the ground. Some may even argue that this is the best and most natural feeding position for dogs since they have evolved to eat this way. On the other hand, other dog owners suggest there are several benefits to using an elevated feeder, especially when it comes to giant breeds or older dogs.
With so many conflicting statements, it’s easy to get confused! When it comes to your pet, it’s always best to do your own research and make an educated decision that is best for them.
If you’re having trouble deciding which is best, read on as we break it down a bit more.
The Elevated Feeder Controversy – The Glickman Study
Raised dog food bowls have been around for a long time and many dog breeders and owners seem to prefer them when it comes to feeding their hounds. But in 2004, Purdue University published findings of the Glickman study that sent many dog owners into a frenzy.
Contrary to previous beliefs, the study concluded that feeding dogs from elevated feeders, combined with other factors such as chest size and diets with high fat or citric acids, increased their risk for developing bloat.
Considering that bloat is a painful and potentially deadly condition for pups, people had every right to be concerned. This is especially true for Great Danes, where bloat is the number one fatal condition.
Bloat occurs when the entryways into a dog’s stomach become closed off because it has flipped or twisted over. This can be an effect of either gas, intestinal blockages, or stress. To make matters worse, it can cause gagging, decrease blood flow, and prevent your dog from going to the bathroom or pass gas, sending them into shock, or even death if not treated immediately.
Alarming stuff, right?
If you look closer at the study Dr. Glickman did, you’ll notice he reached this conclusion solely through statistical evidence and anecdotal findings.
The study consisted of surveying a sample of people who owned breeds who were more susceptible to bloat and also used raised dog bowls. There were no control groups, experiments conducted, or scientific method used. This was purely a statistical review of data, in which no actual research was conducted.
Many regard the study as inconclusive given the sample that was studied. In other words – you can expect a correlation between elevated feeders and bloat since the majority surveyed were already using those feeders.
Of course, there are still those who have confidence in the study and opt to feed their pets from ground bowls. Breeders and owners of larger breeds like Great Danes tend to still stick to using elevated feeders since it has been believed to help reduce the risk of bloat.
Ultimately, it is up to you and what you feel is best for your lovable beast! Below, we will cover the case for both the benefits and potential risks of using elevated bowls for your Great Dane.
The first and most obvious reason for feeding your Dane with an elevated feeder is comfort.
Great Danes are most recognizable for their size—imagine having to stretch that long neck all the way down to the floor just to eat! Raised dog food bowls make it loads easier for them at feeding time since the food is at face level. This also helps reduce joint strain and correct posture.
Raised dog food bowls also come in handy for easing digestion. As you may already know, Great Danes are prone to a variety of digestive issues. There’s a lot that goes through there, okay! Eating from a raised feeder not only makes it easier on their body’s structure but when the head is kept above the stomach, food is able to travel more efficiently down the tract.
Another advantage of using an elevated feeder is keeping Scooby’s feeding and water station orderly. Great Danes are everything but dainty! It doesn’t take long for feeding time to turn into a hot mess! Don’t put it past these big eaters to dig around in their bowls or play with their food and push it halfway across the room! Although raised food bowls may not totally elevate the problem, they should help make feeding a Great Dane a bit more organized.
Even though raised bowls may not work for every breed, it’s obvious to a Great Dane owner that their dog is more comfortable with their dishes elevated so that they don’t have to strain to eat.
You may think that you’re doing your dog a favor by raising his food bowls to his height but making food more easily accessible through elevated feeders can have its drawbacks.
Keep an eye on your Dane as he eats and try to notice if their mealtime behavior has changed. Raising food bowls may start to encourage them to eat and drink more quickly than they should. Eating quickly can fill their bellies with air and increase the possibility of twisting.
If you see that your pup is inhaling their food or slurping down water too fast, you can slow him down by placing large, inedible objects in their food bowl. They will have to eat around the object and will make the process of eating a longer one. Slow feed bowls are also a good option for slowing down their ravenous eating.
Ice cubes in the water bowl also help with slowing down water consumption. That way Duke can stay hydrated and keep bloat at bay at the same time!
What about older dogs?
If you’re still a bit weary on whether you should get a raised dog bowl for your Great Dane, consider their age. Older dogs may start developing canine arthritis, joint pain, or mobility issues that can make eating a painful process.
The next time you feed your dog, feed from where you normally would but pay attention to how they move their body when they eat. Do they look like they’re in pain trying to get to the bowl? Do they lift the food out of the bowl and eat sitting down? If it seems like they would be more comfortable without bending down to the floor and straining their joints, it may be time to introduce an elevated feeder!
As Great Danes age, they become at risk for Megaesophagus, or a neurological disease that involves the breakdown of the esophageal muscles. When a dog gets this disease, they are no longer able to swallow their food and push it down into their bellies for digestion. Raised dog food bowls could be a good solution to help your dog alleviate their struggles associated with Megaesophagus.
What is the correct bowl height?
Once you’ve determined that you want to feed your dog from an elevated feeder, you may be wondering what the correct height should be.
You can establish the most suitable height simply by measuring your standing dog from the floor beneath their front paws up to the tops of their shoulders, then subtract approximately 6 inches. The bowl should be lined up directly with their lower chest.
A typical giant breed dog like a Great Dane should have a bowl at a height ranging from 21 to 27 inches. Another test is to see if your Dane is able to eat without stretching their necks upwards or having to lower or strain downwards. If their food seems to be in a comfortable position and they look happy, you’ve reached the perfect height!
If elevated feeders don’t necessarily cause bloat, what can?
If bloat is the primary reason you are against raised dog food bowls, don’t fret. Although there is the chance they may increase the possibility of bloat, it’s certainly not the leading potential cause for it.
Stress can be a huge factor that contributes to bloat in dogs. This can come from a variety of places —a new home, nervousness, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, hormonal issues, being over-vaccinated—you name it! It is important that you maintain a positive and peaceful environment for your dog to eat and be sure to pay attention to any clues they may give you that they are uncomfortable. Avoid having people or other animals walking around during feeding time, especially young children.
Although it may be easy to manage stress for the easy going and tranquil Great Dane, they are inclined to have various health issues, more notable spine issues. Studies show that dogs with symptoms of congestion, inflammation and sensitive of the lumbar spine are more prone to having stomach problems. Be sure to keep up with exams and observe how they act when eating. Some common therapies for spine problems are acupuncture, massage, or physiotherapy.
Eating the wrong foods can also be causing your Dane to have stomach problems that can soon lead to bloat. Make sure their diet is full of proteins and high-quality fats. These can play an enormous role in preventing bloat along with other diseases.
If your dog is showing any concerning symptoms or you suspect they may be at risk for developing bloat, talk to your veterinarian about your dog and its eating habits.
The jury is still out on whether raised dog food bowls are either harmful or helpful.
Since every dog is different across each breed, the best decision is to do what is appropriate for your dog. Pay attention to its needs, any new or existing symptoms, or any strange behavior before or after eating in order to get an idea of what will work the most efficiently for them. With a little bit of studying and examining your Great Dane’s health, you’ll be able to make feeding time enjoyable for both you and your great big ball of joy!