As a couple of folks who have come through my home recently expressed interest in how I made this, I figured others might enjoy a DIY tutorial as well.
A few months ago over the course of a week, Tom began having odd coughing fits. He’d wake up out of a dead sleep unable to breathe. Scary as all get out for both him and me quite frankly. After one really frightening, I of course made a vet appointment. And googled the heck out of possibilities. Short story even shorter, the vet couldn’t find any particular reason for the episodes wasn’t the easy rule outs like kennel cough or a foreign body, so she suggested it might be allergies. Sure enough I washed all of his bedding, changed the vacuum filter, gave him a couple of doses of zyrtec and he hasn’t done it since.
But in the mean time, though my searches on Google I saw mention that feeding meals out of an elevated feeder was helpful for some dogs with coughs like Tom’s. And while sure I could have bought one, I though “Hmm, I have stuff that would mean I could make this in 20min and start using it today” Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose. Besides why spend money on something I didn’t even know if my dog would like using? Also I like free. This would be free!
Making an Elevated Dog Feeder:
- small table: an end table or TV stand works well.
- Drill to drill a starter hole
- Jig Saw
- Sand paper
- Tape measure
- Compass (not a north south compass, but the kind you put a bit of pencil in one end, pointy bit on the other to draw a circle with)
- 1-2 dog dishes with a lip (2 quart stainless steel dog dishes work well in my experience)
- Paint or stain if you want to pretty your feeder up
Step 1- find a small table you are ok cutting into. For me, I had a collapsible end table TV stand thing that my mother had found in a yard sale and given to me years ago when I moved to this house. It’s been sitting in a closet taking up space for I can’t even tell you how long. Occasionally I come across it while organizing and think, “I’ll sell that next time we have a yard sale” then I don’t. Well it now has an actual useful purpose in my life! Yay! I liked that it was collapsible so that if I ever needed to store it out of the way it is easy to do or if we ever needed to travel with it we could. I also really liked that I already had it and it was free. Have I mentioned I like free?
Step 2- decide if you want a 1 bowl or 2 bowl feeder and choose your bowls. As my little end table was wide enough for 2 dishes, I figured I’d make a 2 bowl feeder. Good to have options I thought. For the bowls, you want to find ones that have a lip around the edge so that they can hang supported in the finished openings of the feeder. As I have way too many to admit 2 quart stainless steel dog food dishes all of which have a nice lip edge I simply used those.
Step 3- take the dish you want to insert into the finished feeder and trace around the outside edge on the table. If your dish is more narrow at the bottom than the top, flip the dish so you are tracing around the top edge of it. Make sure you position the bowl so your dog could reach it from the side where he is standing, but also not too close to the edge that there wouldn’t be enough wood to support it when full with your dog’s food. Then measure in the circle you just traced the width of the lip the dish has so that when you cut the circle out for the dish, there is a way for the dish to hang. If you cut the exact size of the opening you originally traced, or even worse a larger opening, the dish would just fall through the hole making it useless. Once I had measured in about 1/4″ for the lip, I then used a handy dandy compass to trace the inner cutting circle. See I knew there was a reason I saved that thing after geometry classes over a decade ago! (surprisingly, mine has gotten a fair amount of use over the years. Those things are very handy!)
Step 4- take a drill and drill a starter hole along your cut edge. Then using a jig saw, carefully cut out the hole for your dog dish to drop into. Once cut, sand the edges so there are no chance of splinters and it’s nice and smooth. I was surprised when I cut into my table top that it wasn’t solid wood, but instead 2 pieces of rather thin plywood with a space between them. The jig saw blade I had chosen was with the idea that this was a solid 3/4″ thick piece of wood, which was really the wrong blade as the first cut caused things to start splintering. A quick blade change to one more suited to the wood type and thickness and things were good to go. (as a side, if you are ever getting married, skip putting things like dish china on your gift registry, ask for power tools. Best decision ever and so very handy! Our jig saw and skill saw have seen way more use than fine china ever would have.) I did have to adjust my cut out holes a little though as there were thicker support pieces of wood inside the hollow core, which I didn’t want to remove or cut away as not to risk the whole thing collapsing once a dog dish with food and a dog eating out of it came into the equation. A little adjustment and it came out just fine, 2 dishes still fit and hang nicely.
Step 5- Now to make the feeder the correct height for my dog. The side table I used was about 6″ too tall. So first thing I did was have Tom stand at a comfortable height and measured from his chin to the floor. I then measured the feeder with the bowls inserted, marked the legs and cut them off to the Tom chin to floor height.
Step 6- test it out. I put a bit of kibble in the feeder dish and let Tom eat it observing his comfort level. My feeder was still a bit too tall according to Tom, so I cut another 2 or so inches off the legs. Then tested it again (Tom was enjoying all of this testing for sure!). This time Tom could easily reach the food, wasn’t straining or uncomfortable. Happy Tom. I then sanded the bottoms of the feet so they wouldn’t scratch the floor. If I was more worried about them scratching I’d probably put a bit of felt on the bottoms. I’m not so I haven’t.
Optional step 7- make it pretty if you care about such things. Paint it or stain it, seal it, poly it, put paw prints or your dog’s name on it. Be creative if you want. If your dog’s a messy eater and it’s likely you’ll be wiping it down a lot, I’d recommend some type of wood waterproofer or sealer on it to make it last longer. As my end table was already stained brown and I was in this for speed for use not how pretty it was, I haven’t done anything to beautify it.
We’ve now been using this feeder for about 2 months. Tom really likes it. He likes that there is no chance of Zora ever reaching his food. That’s really what he likes, let’s be honest.