Pet wellness is a new and growing concept. Pet parents are becoming more aware that the particularity of their care makes a big difference in the quality and longevity of their pets’ lives. The flip side of this is there’s an epidemic of poor pet health underway. One study found a 900 percent increase in diabetes among dogs, another demonstrated that breeds of dogs who formerly had a life expectancy of 17 years now live between 9 and 10 years on average. One out of every two dogs and one out of every five cats will get cancer. Research has found the primary culprit in lack of pet wellness is diet. A revolution is occurring in pet food, incorporating more fresh foods and less processing in pet feed.
But that’s only part of the wellness equation. It’s not only what your pet eats that counts, but how your pet eats. Here are five ways that an elevated feeding bowl can contribute to your pet’s wellness.
As goofy as it sounds, try this experiment. Put a plate of food on the floor. Now try eating it (no utensils allowed). No really, try. Obviously, you have some handicaps your pet doesn’t — that short little human tongue, such a tiny mouth, not much of a neck, really. But your digestive system otherwise really isn’t that much different than your pet’s, and do you notice something? Gravity sucks. Literally. Getting that food going up your gullet only to go down to your belly isn’t that easy. Even if you just do this as a thought experiment, there’s nothing complicated to understand: eating with gravity on your side requires less effort. Swallowing is easier. Your food, therefore its nutrients, gets from point A to point B much more easily. And this means your food is more digestible, so its nutrients are better delivered to your body, which greatly contributes to your overall wellness. Now apply the findings of your experiment to your pet, and elevate his or her wellness. Literally.
Ease the feed
Every dog (and cat) has that day. Almost no pet gets through life without an injury, a surgical incision, or a skin irritation that requires the wearing of the cone of shame. In the U.S., over 80 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats are neutered, usually early in life, and have to wear that cone so they don’t undo stitches. As a pet owner, you’ve probably experienced this double-edged trauma: both you and your pet’s, every time the cone goes on. The thing about trauma is that once it occurs over something as fundamental as eating, its effects can linger long after the cone is gone.
Elevate your pet’s bowl, however, and by easing your pet’s eating, you both avoid trauma.
Pest-proof your pet’s meal
One unintended consequence of putting your pet’s bowl on the ground or floor is now there’s a competition for the food in the bowl — between your pet and another pet, occasionally, and between your pet and pests, always. This often means your pet ends up eating ants or even cockroaches. A bowl elevated to exactly your pet’s height means this meal is for him or her alone, no pests, and no other pets.
Kindness for senior pets
Old age isn’t easy. For a pet whose whole life has been a testament to the joy of mobility — running, leaping, generally just loving movement — arthritis and creakiness is counter to an animal’s whole way of being. To add injury to insult, now the simple act of eating from his or her bowl is harder. Maybe your pet’s sight also begins to fail, so even seeing the bowl is iffy, and the sad scene that results is a beloved old friend bumping into a meal instead of eating it. Raise the bowl, make it so it tilts right to the angle from which your pet approaches, and you’ve performed a simple but profound act of kindness: allowing a pet to enjoy eating.
Some pets — let’s face it, mostly those crazy dogs — get really, really excited come feeding time. This excitement spills over to the act of eating, and things get messy. These over-excited eaters notoriously slide a floor-bound bowl around, and then there’s food on the floor, and then there’s a pet — let’s face it, mostly those crazy dogs — tracking food all through the house. Elevated feeding bowls eliminate this problem. They don’t slide around and encourage a better eating posture, so your pet’s nose isn’t bumping the bowl and creating spills.
The science behind elevated feeding bowls is relatively new. Studies are really just now beginning to be done. If you have a large dog with a tendency to bloat, in particular, you should consult with a veterinarian before using an elevated bowl. But for most pets, elevating a feeding bowl means elevating their experience of feeding, and increasing their overall wellness.