How to Build a DIY Elevated Dog Food Stand
Ever notice that dogs at mealtime resemble toddlers? Tipping over their food bowls, splashing water everywhere, chasing their dish across the floor to lick up the very last molecule of food. If you have a messy four-legged eater who just can't seem to manage their tableware, you may have considered investing in a raised dog food stand to keep the mess off your floors.
While there are many nice-looking elevated dog bowls you can buy, there's something pretty special about building one yourself. Nothing says "I love my dog" like taking the time to create a feeding station from scratch. Plus, by building your pet a raised dog food feeder, you can customize the color and design to complement your decor.
Why Use an Elevated Dog Food Stand?
Owners of large dog breeds—and even certain small ones—sometimes feel that raising food and water bowls off the floor can benefit their pet's health. For instance, raising the height of food and water bowls can benefit some older dogs or those suffering from arthritis or certain throat conditions. Pugs, bulldogs, and other breeds with short or broad heads and flattened faces (called brachycephalic) may especially benefit from better alignment of their throats and necks as they swallow. A chat with your veterinarian can help you decide whether an elevated dog food stand would help your pet.
There is some debate about using elevated feeding bowls for dogs who are at risk for a serious condition called bloat (GDV). "Elevated feeding was once thought to reduce the risk of bloat, but studies have not been able to prove this," says Jenna Stregowski, RVT, Daily Paws Pet Health and Behavior Editor. "One study actually suggests that elevated feeding can increase the risk of bloat in large and giant dogs," Stregowski continues.
How can you decide what's best for your dog? "Raised bowls can make mealtime much more comfortable for some dogs, so the benefits may outweigh the potential risks. Every situation is different, so ask your veterinarian for advice about your particular dog's needs," Stregowski says.
Got a speed eater in the family? A variety of bowls can be used in this holder, including some slow-feeding bowls. And the combination of a raised bowl plus a slow feeder might just decrease the amount of food and water that ends up on your floors.
How High Should an Elevated Dog Food Stand Be?
As a general rule, an elevated feeder should be about as high as your dog's shoulders at the front of the chest/neck. Your dog should not need to stretch up to reach the bowl. When in doubt, it's better for the bowl to be a little too low than a little too high.
Our DIY elevated feeder is about 1 foot high and 2 feet long. You can adjust the instructions to suit the size of your dog.
Materials You'll Need to Build a DIY Dog Food Stand
- 23/32" x 2' x 2' plywood panel
- ¾" x 5½" x 48" pine board
- 1¼" coarse-thread pocket-hole screws
- Wood glue
- Wood putty
- Sanding primer
- Paint of your choice
- Non-skid furniture/foot pads
Tools You'll Need to Build a DIY Dog Food Stand
- Circle-marking compass and pencil
- Jigsaw with fine-tooth blade (20 teeth per inch or more)
- Drill and bit set
- Pocket-hole jig, bit, and driver set
(NOTE: Pocket-hole jigs provide a strong, inexpensive way to connect two pieces of wood. The jig allows you to drill an angled hole in just the right position to drive a screw through the hole and into another piece of wood.)
Step-by-Step Instructions for How to Build a Raised Dog Bowl Stand
Use these step-by-step instructions, photos, and illustrations to build your elevated food station.
Step 1: Cut the Top and Legs
From the 23/32" x 2' x 2' plywood, cut two pieces that are each 11¾" x 24". On one piece of cut plywood, mark a center line the length of the board. Then mark two spots on that line, each 6" from an end (see Drawing A). This is the Top of your stand.
Cut the other piece of plywood in half vertically to make two 11¾" x 11¾" Legs.
Step 2: Measure and Mark the Holes for the Bowls
Select metal or ceramic food bowls sized to suit how much your dog eats and drinks. The style needs to include a lip around the top, so the bowl doesn't fall through the hole you cut for it. Lay the bowl upside down on a flat surface, and measure the outside width of the bowl at the top, just beneath the lip (Photo B). Set a compass to create a circle that of diameter.
Place the point of the compass at the center-line 6" marks on your Top piece. Draw two circles for the cut-outs. Drill a ⅜" hole inside each circle near the lines. You'll use this drilled hole to make it easier to cut out the circle in a later step.
Step 3: Mark the Curves on Each Leg Piece
On each Leg piece, mark the bottom end 2½" from each edge. Using a 1-gallon paint can or something similar in size, mark the bottom curves on each Leg (Photo C). (If you prefer a different design, play around with different shapes or a French curve until you find a profile you like.)
Step 4: Cut the Bowl Openings, Leg Shapes, and Screw Holes
Use a jigsaw with a fine-tooth blade to cut out the bowl openings in the Top (Photo D). You'll start the cut by inserting the blade into the ⅜" hole that you drilled earlier.
Then cut the marked semicircles on the bottoms of the Legs, and sand the openings to the circle lines. Fill any plywood voids or flaws with wood putty, let dry, and sand the Top and Legs smooth.
Using a jig, drill pocket holes (Photo E) where shown on the Legs (Drawing F).
Step 5: Create the Front and Back Braces
To determine the exact length of the Front and Back Braces, hold the Legs together at one end of the Top, and measure between the Legs and the other end of the Top. Cut the Front and Back Braces to that length from 1x6 (¾" x 5½") boards.
Along one long edge of one Brace, mark the center and 2" from each end (Drawing G). Using those markings for placement, use a compass or the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket to mark the scallops on the bottom edge of the Brace. (The design is up to you; feel free to create a different decorative edge of your choice.) Jigsaw the scallops and sand the curved lines.
Using a jig, drill pocket holes where shown on the Brace (Drawing G).
Repeat cutting the scallops and drilling the pocket holes on the other Brace.
Step 6: Assemble the Top, Legs, and Braces
Working on a flat surface, glue and clamp the Legs to the Front and Back Braces, aligning them at the top of the feeder. After the glue dries, reinforce the connections with pocket-hole screws (Photo H).
Turn this assembly upside down and place it on the underside of the Top. Glue and clamp the assembly to the Top, then reinforce it with pocket-hole screws. Sand the edges and ends of the Top so they're flush with the Legs and Braces.
Step 7: Prime, Paint, and Finish
Apply a sanding primer to the assembled stand, let dry, and sand smooth. Then apply three coats of the paint of your choice. (Paint can better withstand water damage and wear than a clear finish.) Add non-skid pads to the bottoms of the legs.
Your elevated dog dish stand is ready to use after the paint has dried for two days. Insert the bowls and fill them with food and water.
Then ring the dinner bell for your favorite chowhound.