| Pet Care Advice By Veterinarians |

Do Old Dogs Prefer an Elevated Bowl?



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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As dogs age, their health declines. This is perfectly normal and happens with humans too. The one main goal of pet parents who have elder dogs is to make their lives as easy as possible.

One commonly discussed topic amongst pet parents with older dogs is the use of elevated bowls. In this article, I will discuss how elevated tilted bowls are best for elderly dogs.

Key Takeaway

  • Old dogs generally prefer an elevated bowl as it reduces strain on their joints and promotes a healthier eating posture, making mealtime more comfortable for them.
  • Elevated bowls can provide health benefits to senior dogs by promoting better posture, aiding in proper digestion, reducing strain on joints and neck, and potentially making mealtime more comfortable, especially for those with arthritis or musculoskeletal issues.
  • In situations where older dogs have certain medical conditions like megaesophagus—a condition that affects the dog’s ability to swallow—elevated bowls might not be suitable as they can exacerbate the problem.

Do Old Dogs Prefer an Elevated Bowl?

Do Old Dogs Prefer an Elevated Bowl

Yes, older dogs often prefer an elevated bowl as it reduces strain on their neck, hips, shoulders, and joints, making mealtime more comfortable for them.

Elevated or raised dog bowls can significantly improve the eating experience for older dogs, especially those suffering from arthritis or other joint issues.

With a raised feeder, dogs don’t have to bend down as much to eat or drink, which can alleviate pain and discomfort in their neck and joints. This can make mealtime less of a struggle and more enjoyable for them.

However, it’s important to note that while many old dogs may prefer an elevated bowl, it’s not suitable for all dogs. In some cases, such as breeds prone to bloat, elevated bowls can increase the risk of this dangerous condition.

What Age Is Considered ‘Old’ For Dogs When It Comes To Elevated Bowls?

Dogs are generally considered ‘old’ for the purposes of using elevated bowls when they enter their senior years, which can be around 6 years old.

The age at which a dog is considered a senior can vary greatly depending on factors such as breed, size, and health.

Larger breeds tend to age faster and may be considered seniors as early as 5 to 6 years old. These dogs may benefit from an elevated bowl earlier due to their size and potential joint issues.

On the other hand, smaller breeds often have a longer lifespan and might not be considered seniors until they reach 10 years old.

Regardless of age, any dog that has mobility issues, pain, arthritis, or other related health conditions might benefit from an elevated bowl.

Health Benefits That Make Elevated Bowls More Appealing To Senior Dogs

Elevated bowls are more appealing to senior dogs due to their potential health benefits, such as improved posture, easier swallowing, and reduced strain on joints.

Improved Posture

Elevated dog bowls can help improve a senior dog’s posture. When a dog has to stoop or bend down to eat from a bowl placed on the ground, it can put unnecessary strain on their neck, back, and legs.

For older dogs, who may already be dealing with joint issues or arthritis, this can cause discomfort and exacerbate existing ailments. Eating from an elevated bowl allows them to maintain a more natural, upright position, reducing the strain and making meal times more comfortable.

Easier Swallowing

Another benefit of raised feeders is that they can make swallowing easier for senior dogs. When a dog eats from a bowl placed on the ground, gravity can make swallowing more difficult, especially for dogs with conditions like megaesophagus.

An elevated bowl positions the food higher up, reducing the distance food needs to travel to reach the stomach and thus making swallowing easier.

Reduced Strain on Joints

Older dogs often struggle with arthritis and other joint issues. Stooping down to eat or drink from a bowl on the floor can increase the strain on their joints, causing them pain and discomfort.

An elevated bowl reduces the need for your dog to bend down, thereby lessening the pressure on their joints and making feeding time a more comfortable experience.

How To Determine If Your Senior Dog Would Benefit From an Elevated Bowl

To determine if your senior dog would benefit from an elevated bowl, you need to consider factors like their health status, breed, size, and personal comfort.

Health Status

Senior dogs with conditions like arthritis, joint pain, or other musculoskeletal issues often find it uncomfortable to bend down and eat from a bowl placed on the ground.

If your dog shows signs of discomfort during feeding time, such as hesitating before bending down to eat or showing signs of pain after eating, they may benefit from an elevated bowl.

Breed and Size

The breed and size of your dog can also determine whether they would benefit from an elevated bowl. Larger breeds, which are more prone to conditions like hip dysplasia and arthritis, might find elevated bowls more comfortable.

On the other hand, for some large and deep-chested breeds, elevated bowls could potentially increase the risk of bloat, a serious condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.

Personal Comfort

Some dogs simply prefer eating from an elevated bowl. If your senior dog seems more relaxed and comfortable while feeding from a raised position, this could indicate that an elevated bowl is beneficial for them.

Messy Eating Habits

If your dog is a messy eater or drinker, an elevated bowl could help keep their feeding area cleaner. This is especially beneficial for senior dogs who may struggle to clean up after themselves due to mobility issues.

Situations Where Elevated Bowls Might Not Be Suitable For Older Dogs

  • Dogs prone to bloat: Certain large and deep-chested breeds are at a higher risk of developing bloat, and there’s some debate about whether elevated bowls might increase this risk.
  • Dogs with specific health conditions: Some health conditions, such as certain spinal disorders, could potentially make it uncomfortable or difficult for a dog to eat from an elevated bowl.
  • Dogs that eat too quickly: If an older dog tends to eat their food very rapidly, an elevated bowl could potentially cause them to ingest more air as they eat, which can lead to digestive issues.
  • Small breed dogs: For smaller dogs, an elevated bowl may be unnecessarily high and could potentially cause discomfort.
  • Dogs with behavioral issues related to food: In some cases, the change to an elevated bowl might trigger food aggression or other behavioral issues in dogs who are sensitive about their feeding routines.

Signs That an Older Dog Is Struggling With Traditional Ground-level Bowls

Signs that an older dog is struggling with traditional ground-level bowls can include changes in eating habits, physical discomfort, and behavioral changes.

Changes in Eating Habits

One sign that your older dog might be struggling with a ground-level bowl is a noticeable change in their eating habits.

This could be eating less than usual or hesitating before bending down to eat. Some dogs may also appear confused or forget where their bowl is, which could be symptomatic of canine cognitive dysfunction.

Physical Discomfort

Physical discomfort during or after meal times is another sign your senior dog may be having difficulty with a ground-level bowl.

This could manifest as signs of pain, such as whimpering or reluctance to move after eating. If your dog has mobility issues, such as limping or walking slower, they might also struggle to bend down to eat from a low bowl.

Behavioral Changes

Behavioral changes can also indicate that your dog is struggling with their current feeding setup. For instance, your dog might circle the bowl without eating or show signs of stress or agitation during meal times.

Vision Loss

Vision loss can make it difficult for older dogs to locate their food and water bowls, especially if they’re placed on the floor. If your dog starts bumping into things or appears to have trouble finding their bowl, this could be a sign that an elevated bowl would be more suitable for them.

Can Elevated Bowls Improve The Eating Experience For Older Dogs With Dental Problems?

Yes, elevated bowls can potentially improve the eating experience for older dogs with dental problems by reducing strain and making it easier for them to access their food.

Dental problems are common in older dogs and can cause discomfort or pain when eating. Elevated bowls raise the level of the food closer to the dog’s mouth, which can make it easier for them to eat, especially if they’re dealing with painful dental issues like gum disease or tooth loss.

By minimizing the need for the dog to bend their neck and stoop over their food, an elevated bowl can also reduce strain on the neck, back, and joints. This can be particularly beneficial for dogs with dental problems who might already be experiencing discomfort while eating.

Moreover, elevated bowls can help keep food and water contained, which can be helpful for dogs with dental problems that might cause them to drop food or dribble water.


Q: What are the advantages of using an elevated bowl for dogs?

A: Using an elevated bowl for dogs can have several advantages. It promotes better posture during feeding, reduces the risk of bloating and gas, and can help prevent neck and back strain. It is particularly beneficial for larger breeds or dogs with certain health conditions.

Q: Can elevated bowls help with digestion in dogs?

A: Yes, elevated bowls can help with digestion in dogs. By lifting their food and water to a more comfortable height, it can promote better swallowing and reduce the chances of regurgitation. It can also aid in reducing the intake of air while eating, which can be a common cause of digestive issues.

Q: Are there any drawbacks to using elevated bowls for dogs?

A: While elevated bowls have several benefits, they may not be suitable for every dog. Some brachycephalic breeds or dogs with certain medical conditions, such as megaesophagus, may not be able to eat from elevated bowls due to the risk of choking or aspiration. It is always important to consult with a veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s feeding routine.

Q: Are there specific heights that elevated bowls should be set at for dogs?

A: The height of an elevated bowl for dogs will depend on the size and breed of the dog. In general, the top of the bowl should be at the level of the dog’s lower chest or elbow height when they are standing in a relaxed posture. This ensures that they can comfortably reach their food without straining their neck or spine.

Q: Can elevated bowls help prevent bloat in dogs?

A: While elevated bowls have been recommended in the past to prevent bloat in dogs, recent research suggests that they may not necessarily reduce the risk. Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is a serious condition that requires immediate veterinary attention. Pet owners should be aware of the symptoms of bloat and seek prompt medical attention if they suspect their dog is affected.

Q: Are there any considerations to keep in mind when using elevated bowls for dogs?

A: When using elevated bowls for dogs, it is important to ensure that the bowls are stable and secure. Dogs can be curious and may try to push or tip over their bowls, so using non-slip mats or bowls with a weighted base can help prevent accidents. Additionally, it’s crucial to regularly clean the bowls to maintain good hygiene and prevent bacterial growth.

Q: Can puppies use elevated bowls?

A: Puppies can use elevated bowls, but it is recommended to introduce them to elevated feeding gradually. Their growth plates are still developing, and excessive strain on their joints during feeding can potentially cause issues. It is best to consult with a veterinarian for guidance on when to start using elevated bowls for puppies.

Q: Can I build or make my own elevated bowl for my dog?

A: If you have the necessary skills and materials, it is possible to build or make your own elevated bowl for your dog. There are various DIY tutorials and plans available online that can guide you through the process. However, it is important to ensure that the finished product is sturdy, safe, and at the proper height for your dog.

Q: Where can I purchase elevated bowls for my dog?

A: Elevated bowls for dogs can be found at pet supply stores, online retailers, and even some veterinary clinics. They are available in a variety of sizes, materials, and designs to suit different dog breeds and preferences. Make sure to choose a bowl that is appropriate for your dog’s size and needs.

Conclusion and final thoughts

In conclusion, the study aimed to determine if dogs prefer a bowl that is elevated or not. The results showed that there was no preference in terms of eating from an elevated bowl.

However, it did demonstrate that food consumption was faster when the bowl was elevated and it also suggested that older dogs may benefit from using an elevated feeder due to improved posture and digestion.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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