TRACIE HOTCHNER: RAISED FEEDERS

I am so glad that Kristin wrote in about my blog last week and worried about my advice against using a raised feeder (I was also delighted to know that her parents are proud Greyhound adopters and appreciate her added health advice for Greys).

Kristin’s comment was: In your “Advice About Adopting Greyhounds,” it says they should NOT be fed from a raised bowl. This is counter to what I have learned about dogs prone to bloat. Isn’t it better for them to eat from a raised bowl so it’s easier for them to eat in a natural position? I think that’s just a typo.

Nope, that was not a typo! That was exactly what I meant! There was a time when raised feeders were actually recommended for big breed, deep-chested dogs but that advice has since been reversed (this kind of reversal happens in the human medical sphere, too, for example even in the recommendations of what foods are high in cholesterol!). While some controversy lingers about whether raised feeders are good or bad, the issue was studied in a scientific way at a university veterinary department by Dr. Glickman – which showed that raised feeders are actually a danger for at-risk breeds of dogs (it is mentioned in the links below).

A similar example is that there was also a time when horses were fed their grain in raised corner feeders in their stalls – until digestive problems emerged and with it the realization that an animal designed to eat with its head down on the ground. It is natural for a horse to eat and chew with her head down – where eating at chest level caused the intake of air and unnatural swallowing (I know this because I spent nearly twenty years competing at a top level in the horse show world and I even bred show jumpers). This would be the same issue with dogs, especially large dogs like Greyhounds: their bodies are designed to put their heads down to eat and drink – people made a mistake interfering with the natural position.

Raised feeders are a poor idea except for dogs who have physical challenges like back, neck or hip problems – where putting their head to the ground (their natural normal eating position) is genuinely difficult for them. But those dogs need to be watched to make sure they don’t gulp and eat too fast, and someone should keep an eye on them for the hour after eating.

Here are just the first few scientific links on the Internet about the dangers of raised feeders and the relationship to bloat:

VetInc.com has an article titled “How an Elevated Dog Feeder Could Lead to Bloat”.

Raid the Wind, a Shiloh-Shepherd breeder website clearly recommends against a raised feeder.

Hibourne Weimaraners, a Weimaraner breeder, has the same information page on their website.

Tracie Hotchner, author of The Dog Bible and The Cat Bible, guest blogs here every Thursday on healthy, natural choices for pets.

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