Feeding dogs from raised bowls – a survey of the practice among Italian owners
Keywords:dog, feeding practice, sighthound, undesirable behavior, health problem
Feeding dogs from raised bowls is gaining popularity among owners, although being cited among the factors increasing the risk of gastric dilatation-volvolus in giant breeds. We aimed at investigating the prevalence of the practice among Italian owners, their stated reasons for it and whether it was associated to a different prevalence of health issues or undesirable behaviors. A convenience sample was recruited via social media and online filled-in questionnaires concerning 715 dogs were collected (mean age ± SD, 5.2±3.57 years, mean weight=19.4 Kg, SD=12.2 kg). One-hundred and eighty owners (25.2%) declared to feed their dogs from raised bowls, thirty-eight of which stated they did so following veterinary advice. Thirty-one mentioned prevention of gastric dilatation-volvolus as the reason for their choice (12 having been advised on the topic by vets), 33 other advantages linked to easier swallowing or digestion. No significant differences were found in the prevalence of health issues or undesirable behaviors between dogs fed from raised bowls and those fed from non-raised bowls.
When dogs were divided in size categories according to their stated height at the withers, bigger dogs were more often said to be fed from raised bowls than smaller ones (p<0.001). Sighthounds being reported to be 43 cm or more tall at the withers were more often (p<0.05) fed from raised bowls than dogs of the same size category even if they were not taller. It is concluded the practice of feeding dogs from raised bowls is relatively widespread especially among bigger dogs and sighthounds owners and, therefore, both more scientific studies on its actual effect on dogs’ health and more widespread information on them are needed.