Here in farmland we've got five dogs and one puppy on the property, and I've observed something I couldn't while living in NYC: Given a choice of drinking fresh water out of a bowl or drinking out of a muddy puddle right next to it, the dogs seem to prefer the muddy puddle.
I know what you germ freaks are thinking: "Gross! They'll get sick!" Yeah, they haven't, and they won't. There was a time I thought one of my dogs had ingested an object, and I took her in for an X-ray. She was clear--and I was amazed to see the X-ray, as I had never seen a dog's insides; their intestines are really minimal. It's practically a straight line from the mouth to the asshole. I figured dogs would have the long, tangled mess of intestines that we humans do, but the vet explained that dogs' stomachs contain incredibly powerful acids that break food down quickly. They can ingest lots of stuff that we can't without getting sick.
Anyways back to the mud puddle. Why would a dog prefer to drink from a puddle than a bowl? Flavor? No, my guess is that it simply feels more natural. We've got coyotes and foxes on the property, and no one's setting out bowls of water for them; we know that they drink from the same streams that the local deer do. Streams, creeks and other natural water sources are, of course, always slightly below ground level. When we find the remains of a deer carcass that the coyotes have taken down, we find they've always eaten it on the ground, as opposed to dragging it over to a stump and tying napkins around their necks.
So why the hell are people buying elevated pet feeders to place water bowls on? In a word, because they're idiots.
Here's how Wayfair, who sells the things, describes their value:
"The raised dishes aid digestion and take the strain off your pet's neck and shoulders."
Aid digestion, how? If I eat my meals off the top of a bookshelf I purchased from Wayfair, will that aid my digestion too? And strain on the neck and shoulders from what, wearing a heavy backpack filled with schoolbooks?
It's true that if your dog has a rare neurological condition, deformity or neck injury, an elevated bowl might help them; but there's no way the proliferation of these things on the market is one-to-one with those conditions.
I love all six of our dogs to death. They are amazing, resilient and affectionate creatures. They also occasionally do disgusting things like eating their own poop. Because they're dogs.
Design entrepreneurs, heed this advice: If you want to get rich, design and sell something that people think will make their dogs feel better.