It is curious how some dogs with a crooked smile manage to eat and play so well, especially when their mouths are used in the same manner that humans use their hands. While some breeds have an underbite that is typical, others are born with an incorrect bite, or malocclusion, that may make it challenging for them to engage in everyday activities, including grasping and chewing food. This could cause dietary issues and frustration for some dogs and their owners, so choosing the correct bowl may be helpful in eliminating some of these hurdles.
When an Underbite Leads to Trouble
While an underbite in some breeds like bulldogs, pugs and boxers is hereditary and considered normal, some dogs may have other dental problems due to their malocclusion. Improper tooth alignment can lead to damage of soft tissue or infection. An underbite, or prognathism, may be a sign of improper growth in different areas of the mouth, and surgery or tooth extraction may be imminent to avoid further complications. Before going to the local pet shop to buy a bowl that might make it easier for a pup to eat from, talk to a veterinarian and make sure there aren't any underlying health issues due to the endearing uneven smile that greets you every day.
It's All In the Breed
As with some breeds that have an underbite as a normal characteristic, with the overlapping bite may come a uniquely shaped head or snout. A bulldog, for instance, has a very wide head with a short muzzle. He has to put his entire head in his bowl with his face flat against the bottom in order to eat a meal. A wide bowl or dish with a flat bottom would be the best fit for him. His skin will rub up against the bowl as well, so make sure that the material of the bowl wouldn't be irritating and doesn’t easily harbor bacteria in between washes. Ensuring that the bowl is a proper fit for your dog who may have a distinctively shaped head or mouth will make it easier for him to consider mealtime a delight rather than a burden.
For some dogs, an underbite may be due to several issues including abnormalities at birth, severe tug of war games or traumatic births. Any reason for malocclusion may result in painful eating or drinking, making decisions on what accessories to buy for your pup rather daunting. After discussing your dog's specific situation with your vet, the choice may be a little less formidable. There may not be a specific bowl meant for your dog's particular bite, but a raised one may cause a little less strain. As with dogs who have an underbite as a result of genetics, ensure that the shape of your dog's head and muzzle is proportionate to the bowl that he is drinking from.
The Bottom Line
While there may not be the perfect bowl for the many types of underbites, there are ways to make eating and drinking more comfortable for your pup. Discussing your dog's specific situation with a veterinarian is most important, followed by making sure the size of your dog's bowls makes sense. Monitor your dog's behavior at mealtime to maintain his happiness and keep commonplace tasks less discouraging.
Jen Tenenbaum received a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Grand Valley State University in 2004. She started as an intern for NPR and periodically works as a copywriter and blogger. She also has experience as a dog trainer and kennel caretaker.