A massage client asked me this question earlier this week. The dog in question is a Boxer (beautiful boy) who happens to be suffering from degeneration in his spine.
Although he is doing well with regular swimming, acupuncture and massage therapy, his owner knows that he is comparatively young (8) and she wants him to have a good quality of life for a long time. So that’s when we started talking about changes she could make to his physical environment to make things less stressful for him (ramps, steps, etc.)
Would a raised feeder help my dog?
Raised feeders can be a real advantage for a dog with orthopaedic problems or arthritis. Eating from a raised feeder helps to relieve strain on the neck and back, allowing the dog to eat without dramatically altering their posture and helping them to retain balance.
But – some studies have shown that dogs who are susceptible to bloat have an increased risk from eating from a raised feeder. The most notable reference for this link is an article by Dr Larry Glickman in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 17, No. 10.
Gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV) is known by the common term ‘bloat’ and other terms such as ‘stomach torsion’ or ‘twisted stomach.’ Regardless of what name you use, the condition is life-threatening. Dogs can die of bloat within several hours. Even with treatment, as many as 25-33% of dogs who develop bloat will die.
In bloat, the stomach fills up with air and puts pressure on the other organs and the diaphragm. The pressure on the diaphragm makes it difficult for the dog to breathe. The air-filled stomach also compresses large veins in the abdomen, preventing blood from returning to the heart.
Filled with air, the stomach can easily rotate on itself, pinching off its blood supply. This rotation is known as volvulus. The stomach begins to die and the entire blood supply is disrupted. A dog with this condition can deteriorate very rapidly – meaning a trip to the vet as an emergency.
Purdue University ranks Boxers as the 16th breed most susceptible to bloat (Great Danes are the highest). So, in this case, the owner decided not to opt for a raised feeder. Not only is her Boxer on the higher risk list, but he also is a gobbler – making quick work of his food!
This is just one example where it pays to do a little research. An idea that seems like a good one may not be so.