Your Dog’s Food and Water Bowls May Be Causing Neck Pain and Arthritis—Here Are 10 Better Options, All Vet-Recommended

Photo: Getty Images/Eugenio Marongiu
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If you haven't given elevated dog food bowls a thought, you may want to look into it. When we think about things that could potentially harm our precious pets, dinner time doesn't usually come to mind. Leaving them in a stifling car on a hot summer's day? Absolutely a big no-no. Pushing our fur babies to keep up with us on the last mile of our run? Eh—it could do more harm than good. But serving them their favorite scoop of kibble or whipping them up a special, dog-friendly meal? That usually gets their tails wagging.

You're right—if it's healthy, the dinner itself usually poses no issue. Rather, it's the placement of the dog bowl on the floor that could be a sneaky cause of discomfort. (Not to mention, a surefire way to get kibble and water all. over. the. place.)

Experts In This Article
  • Danielle Bernal, DVM, Dr. Danielle Bernal, DVM, is the global veterinarian for the Wellness Pet Company.

For larger breeds especially, like German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers, the lower the food and water bowls, the farther they have to reach, which can cause head or neck pain while increasing risk of arthritis. Danielle Bernal, DVM, BVSC, global veterinarian for Wellness Pet Company, explains that an elevated pet feeder can reduce the stress and tenseness in these areas, making feeding time much more enjoyable.

"While options for smaller dogs do exist, larger dog breeds can benefit the most from raised feeders, especially if he or she suffers from neck aches," she says. "If your dog is older or struggles with joint or bone problems, elevates feeders can make it more comfortable to eat and drink...Bringing food up to shoulder-level helps your dog keep from bending the neck as he or she eats."

Dr. Bernal also says elevated dog bowls can help pets swallow more easily, while preventing dust and bacteria from floating into the bowl, to boot. Some research suggests these feeders can increase the risk of bloating in dogs (a condition where the stomach quickly fills with gas and flips over on itself), though the topic is still widely debated. "A raised dog feeder may also help a pet dealing with issues around the esophagus, such as megaesophagus, which can make it difficult for dogs to push food into their bellies," Dr. Bernal says. "Monitoring your pet while he or she eats is important to detect any unusual or changes in behavior. Of course, always consult a veterinarian to discuss these digestive issues before changing your pet's nutrition, feeding habits, or bowls."

Using an elevated dog bowl

We know you want the best for your fur baby (don't we all?), but before you go running to the kitchen to put your dog's food and water dish on the closest elevated surface, pause—Dr. Bernal has some suggestions on placement and product shopping that'll ultimately keep Fido happy and healthy.

First is choosing your feeder—pick one that's sturdy and stable. (Your floors will thank you!) "A sturdier bowl is going to keep food and water in, preventing bacteria or leftovers from getting onto the floor, which can be risky for your pets or other family members walking by," says Dr. Bernal. "Dual bowls for food and water are often sturdier and can help keep your pet’s head level as they are eating and drinking."

Choose something that's going to be the right size for your pet with bowls that are easy to clean, like stainless steel. From there, Dr. Bernal says you can determine the correct position of your feeder by measuring your standing dog from the floor to the top of the shoulders and subtracting 5-6 inches.

"Your dog should be able to eat without lowering the neck or stretching upwards, ensuring your dog remains comfortable while eating, especially if at higher risk for joint paint," she says. "The bowl should be level with the lower part of your pet’s chest to ensure a more natural eating position. If you know your dog will continue to grow, consider buying an adjustable feeder to grow with your pet through the years."

The pick of the litter: 10 elevated dog bowls to shop

Pawfect Pets, 7" Raised Dog Bowl for Medium Dogs — $45.00

Dr. Bernal recommends this trendy elevated dog bowl from Pawfect Pets, as they offer a wide variety of styles and heights with stainless steel bowls that are easy to clean. “Plus, the sturdy wood base will keep the feeder steady as excited dogs start to eat,” she says.

Pet Zone, Designer Diner Elevated Bowls — $25.00

“This adjustable option is great for a growing dog or cat and easy to move around or store away when needed. Plus, the stainless steel bowls are dishwasher safe,” Dr. Bernal says. It adjusts to three heights up to 12 inches high, giving you plenty of room for Fido (or Kitty!) to grow.

Dexas Popware, Double Elevated Pet Bowls — $24.00

Planning a pup-friendly road trip backcountry getaway? Pack this elevated feeder with you. “These elevated bowls are perfect as we prepare for summer travel,” Dr. Bernal says. “This collapsible set comes with removable silicone bowls that are dishwasher safe, great for meals at home or on the go.” Also available in neon pink, green, and purple.

Petco, EveryYay Dining Wood Elevated Dog Feeder — $58.00

This is another option that ticks off all of Dr. Bernal’s options, designed in trendy minimalist packaging that’ll look good in every room of the house. The extra-tall design is particularly great for larger breeds, so keep that in mind if you have a petite pup. Otherwise, it’s a solid bet, made with skid-free feet and stainless steel cups to keep it clean and tidy.

Teamson Pet, Billie Elevated Double Pet Feeder — $43.00

If you do have a smaller breed, check this fashionable feeder out. It measures out at 4.5 inches high, perfect for pups and kitties alike. And it’s pretty—the stark ceramic bowls stand out against the ash wood base, and are dishwasher safe, too.

Target, Classic Fashion Elevated Dog Feeder — $30.00

Target makes this sleek elevated dog feeder that comes in various heights and finishes. Each includes two drop-in ceramic bowls that are dishwasher-safe and easy to clean. If white isn’t your color, you can swap them for something more snazzier—Target sells a smattering of other colors and patterns so you can mix and match as you please.

Wayfair, Archie & Oscar Ian Feeder — $81.00

Want to feed two birds with one scone? This elevated feeder doubles as pet food storage, making it one of the most convenient options on this list. The top slides to the side, allowing you to fill it with your pup’s favorite kibble. When you’re done refilling it, lock the latch to keep food safe and secure. Available in white and gray.

Neater Feeder, Mess Proof Dog Feeder Deluxe — $64.00

If you have a dog who loves to lap their water and fling their kibble, get the Neater Feeder. It’s pretty much the cleanest elevated dog bowl you can get your hands on, containing bits of food in one, easy to clean place. There’s also a water drainage system, keeping spills off your floor and in the container itself. It’s spill proof, kick proof, and mess proof, making it way worth the money.

Aukl, Elevated Dog Slow Feeder Bowl — $50.00

Similarly, if your dog has a tendency to wolf down his food before you can even pour it in, check out this slow feeder by Aukl. The elevated stand comes in three adjustable heights, making it great for growing pups and adult dogs alike. But the game-changer is in the bowl—it’s strategically designed to slow your dog down, reducing the risk of choking and giving their bellies time to digest. Only complaint is that it doesn’t come with a space for the water bowl.

Zoopolr, Collapsible Elevated Dog Bowl — $14.00

Here’s another affordable travel option you can pack on the road or in your in-flight carry on. Its silicone frame collapses and expands into a 6 inch feeder complete with two bowls. It’s durable, rust free, and costs just over $10.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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