During the 1990s the use of raised bowls for dogs became popular. It was felt that it helped larger dogs and older dogs reach the food etc, and it was also thought to reduced incidence of bloat as it was believed the dog swallowed less air, a possible causal factor in bloat. 

Not surprisingly, it became very popular with owners of large and giant breeds prone to bloat and GDV (gastric dilatation-volvulus). But research published by Glickman (2000) of Purdue University indicated a link between using the raised bowls and bloat. The sale of raised bowls has continued and some manufacturers still use the ‘reduce the risk of bloat’claim on their advertising literature.  Should we use them or not?

There hasn’t been much research on bloat and raised bowls, just Glickman (2000) and Pipan (2012) with contradictory results.

Lawrence T.Glickman et al, Non-dietary risk factors for gastric dilatation-volvulus in large and giant breed dogs, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2000. The researchersstudied 1,637 dogs ofmore than 6 months old of the following breeds: Akita, Bloodhound, Collie, Great Dane, Irish Setter, Irish Wolfhound, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Standard Poodle, and Weimaraner.Owners of dogs that did not have a history of GDV were recruited at dog shows, and the dog's length and height and the depth and width of its thorax and abdomen were measured. Information concerning the dog's medical history, genetic background, personality, and diet was obtained from the owners, and owners were contacted by mail and telephone at approximately 1-year intervals to determine whether dogs had developed GDV or died. Incidence of GDV, calculated on the basis of dogyears at risk for dogs that were or were not exposed to potential risk factors, was used to calculate the relative risk of GDV.

They found that the cumulative incidence of GDV during the study was 6% for large breed and giant breed dogs. Factors significantly associated with an increased risk of GDV were increasing age, having a first-degree relative with a history of GDV, having a faster speed of eating, and having a raised feeding bowl. Approximately 20 and 52% of cases of GDV among the large breed and giant breed dogs, respectively, were attributed to having a raised feed bowl. (J Am Vet Med Assoc2000;217:1492–1499)

In contrast, Pipan, M. et al. (2012) An internet-based survey of risk factors for surgical gastric dilation-volvulus in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association, (2012) surveyed 2550 dogs, of which 1114 has had GDV, but the survey was less thorough and included a wide range of breeds, not just the 11 breeds most at risk. No link was found between raised bowls and GDV.

To summarise - eating from the floor has not been found to increase the risk ofGDV,butusing raised bowls in one study was found to increase the risk in breeds which suffer the most from GDV, which seems a good reason not to use them. If you own a breed that gets bloat then don’t risk it.

You can read more here: https://www.veterinaryevidence.org/index.php/ve/article/view/57/126