This series of articles cover several hacks and Great Dane tips for sharing your life with these silly, majestic, dopey, regal, lovable, affectionate, magnificent animals.
The Elevated Feeding Table Hack
There is a wide variety of opinions on whether to use an elevated feeding table for your Great Dane or leave the food dish on the floor. If you visit your local dog park you’ll hear some very passionate people on both sides of the debate.
The source of the debate centers around gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), commonly referred to as “bloat.” Bloat is a condition where the stomach gets flipped over twisting and blocking the intestines. You can understand why this would be a problem.
Even the AKC can’t put a definitive finger on the exact cause of bloat. Some people say an elevated feeding station will help prevent bloat while others have the exact opposite opinion. Which group of people are correct is unknown – what is known is that due to a Great Dane’s high height-to-weight ratio they are 5 times more likely to bloat than other breeds. In fact bloat is the #1 killer of Great Danes. So you can understand the passion behind opinions on this topic.
Whether to use an elevated feeding station or not is a topic for another day. Today we want to look at creative ways to make, or improvise an elevated feeder without breaking the bank.
It’s true you can find elevated feeding bowls for as little as $10, but these inexpensive models are usually only 8″-10″ high -not high enough to provide optimal comfort for a Great Dane.
The first question is how high should the feeder be? This will vary depending on your dog. The feeder should be no higher than the middle of the chest. Our brindle Great Dane Lucy is rather tall, she’s 33″ at the shoulders and 24″ to the middle of her chest. So our 22″ high feeding table is perfect.
This idea is pure genius! I wish I could say I came up with this, but I have to credit a couple FaceBook friends who are clearly more clever than me and gave me permission to share their idea.
Simply cut circles out of the cover of a plastic storage bin. A 30 gallon size will hold two 55 lb. bags of food. You can pick one up from Amazon for less than $25. The bin stores the food while the steep lip on the lid keeps spills to a minimum.
The 30 gallon size is 19.5 inches tall and the 20 gallon is 17.5 inches tall – a little lower than the optimal height for most Danes, but it’s pretty close. A plastic storage tub may not fit the decor of your house but if you feed in an out-of-the-way room like a mud room or laundry room that won’t matter. I love this idea!
We repurposed a small file cabinet that used to be part of a work desk. This cabinet is the perfect height for Lucy as shown in the above illustration. I placed an old golf towel on top to catch the slober and voilà, a feeding table. Another benefit of this solution is that the drawers can be used for other dog related items such as brushes, leashes or treats.
This cabinet is only large enough for one bowl while most elevated feeding tables have room for two bowls. The fact is we only put one bowl down at a time any way. Back to the bloat thing. It’s not good to let your Dane drink with or immediately after eating especially if you feed them dry food. Dry food will expand in the stomach if it’s chased with too much water and increase the potential of bloat. So we pick up the water bowl when we feed Lucy and only put it back down 30 minutes after feeding.
I know this might seem obvious and many people might feel that a chair is too high for effective feeding. (This will depend greatly on the height of your Dane.) A chair is not meant to be a long-term solution, but in a pinch, say if you’re visiting friends who don’t by chance have an elevated feeding table you may have to improvise. If they have a child sized chair that might be even better.
If you can’t find a chair or other piece of furniture that’s the right height it’s always best to err on the low-side rather than too high. If it’s too high it will be uncomfortable for your pup.
Thrift Store Furniture
Now that you know the optimal height for your feeding table (measure the height to the center of your dogs chest) start visiting local thrift stores to find an end table, coffee table or even piano bench that’s close to the right height. If it’s too tall you can always cut the legs down to the proper height.
If you like woodworking and you’re handy with a router you can cut a circle in the top of the table to let your feeding bowl drop in, similar to some commercial feeding tables.
I’ve been looking for a while now for the perfect piece of furniture to convert into a feeding table. What I’m looking for is a low, wide table with one or two wide drawers. I’d like to be able to fill the drawers with dog food so I can simply open the drawer, scoop the food and be done. I’ll be sure to update this post if and when I find the perfect table.
That’s right, the toilet. Lets be honest – we’ve all caught our dog drinking out of the toilet more than once. (Don’t tell me I’m alone on this.) It’s not just because we forgot to put the water bowl back down after feeding time (although that can be a contributing factor). It’s partly because a toilet is at a comfortable height for most Great Danes. Again, I’m not suggesting this as a long-term solution but this is a great option if you travel with your Great Dane and find yourself in a hotel that welcomes dogs.
I travel a lot for my “day job” and I’m finding more and more hotels that welcome dogs. Surprisingly many of these are high-end hotels and resorts. I find most of them in western United States, like Colorado and California. It’s becoming more common. So if you find yourself traveling to a hotel with your Great Dane don’t bother packing a bulky elevated feeding table, you can use the toilet – just be sure to put the lid down. 🙂
Or just Buy One!
Most commercial elevated bowls or tables are simply not tall enough for an adult Great Dane. Most are only 9″ or 10″ tall. Here’s a link to one that’s 15″ tall which still wouldn’t be tall enough for Lucy, but might work for you.
This adjustable feeding bowl is pretty ingenious, it extends up to 19″ tall. It’s not real pretty, but very practical as you could adjust it as your puppy grows to always keep it at the optimal level.
What have you tried?
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s rigged my own solution for an elevated feeding table without spending $50-$150. What have you seen, or better yet what have you tried? Share with the group what you’ve tried – even if you tried and failed we’d like to hear. We promise not to laugh, not out load anyway.
Remember we’re all in this together.