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As much as we love having pets, we all could use some extra help when it comes to giving them the best care.
Here’s where an automatic dog feeder comes into play.
These automatic feeding devices are a god send for people who work during the day and have to leave their dog at home. It may not be the same as staying at home with your pup, but it’s a pretty close second.
A wide range of automatic feeders have crowded the market recently, but are they really worth it and do they honestly make lives easier? We’ve rounded up all the important information you need to decide whether an auto dog feeder is right for you.
- 1 What is an Automatic Dog Feeder?
- 2 Who Might it Be Good for?
- 3 Different Types of Dog Feeder
- 4 How Do They Work?
- 5 Downsides to Automatic Dog Feeders
- 6 The Best Automatic Dog Feeder Review
What is an Automatic Dog Feeder?
In simplest of terms, an automatic dog feeder is a battery-powered feeder that allows your dog to have correct meal portions at regular intervals.
With most auto dog feeders, you can program the feeder to dispense portions of food at set times, ensuring that your dog has sufficient nutrients throughout the day.
Unlike pet water fountains which are usually mains powered, timed dog feeders are powered with batteries – so you won’t have to worry about positioning it near a suitable plug.
Various studies have shown that automatic pet feeders help with routine, as well as promoting healthy eating.
Who Might it Be Good for?
A timed dog feeder is undeniably most useful for pet owners with busy lives.
If you are out and about for most of the day, then an automatic dog feeder would be great: just go to work and don’t worry about rushing back home to feed the dog. With an automatic pet feeder, you can guarantee they’ll be fed properly.
You don’t even have to be a busy pet owner.
Whether you just need some extra help and want to make sure your dog has enough food during the day, then automatic food dispensers are excellent for you.
Different Types of Dog Feeder
You can find various types of automatic dog feeders available in a wide range of sizes, materials, programming options, and price ranges.
Some are programmed with timers that range from 24 to 30 hours ahead.
More basic feeders allow you to set a single timer, only when the feeder is open.
Whereas advanced feeders allow you to schedule meals at different hours of the day.
All automatic dog feeders can be separated into two main categories. Some will open the bowl as per schedule, whilst others can serve a pre-determined quantity of food at a programmed time.
Those that fall into the second category are usually more expensive, but they’re more useful for careful diets.
Auto dog feeders for dry food are the most common, but there are feeders that accommodate wet food too. Some allow you to place ice packs, keeping the food fresh for longer.
Some automatic pet feeders even give you the option to record a short voice message! The recording will play when the feeder provides meals, so your pet will know when the food has been served.
This is a great touch, but is only available with selected — usually more expensive — machines.
How Do They Work?
Auto feeders store food in an air-tight hopper, which then dispenses the food into the feeding dish in pre-measured quantities at timed intervals.
Most auto feeders come with simple settings that allow you to select the correct options for your pet.
You can serve smaller portions of food in regular intervals, or larger portions more sparingly.
Particularly advanced dog feeders can be controlled by an app, which you can power from your phone — meaning that you can adjust the time and portion of your dog’s feeding schedule on the go. Ideal for people finding themselves stuck after work!
Downsides to Automatic Dog Feeders
Not all automatic pet feeders are dream machines, and many have some faults that can’t be ignored.
A popular issue is that feeding tubes may be accessible by dogs, defeating the purpose entirely and allowing your pup to eat the entire stash of stored food.
With a selection of auto feeders being made of plastic, owners have found that their dogs started chewing the tube and getting to the stored food, causing a mess and wastage.
If you want to buy an auto dog feeder, make sure that you buy a quality one.
Another common problem lies in how difficult it can be to clean the machines. If you are trying to save time, having a feeder that’s a pain to clean isn’t the best solution and could end up creating more problems than solving them!
Some may argue that auto pet feeders can make owners lazy, and relying on automatic feeders isn’t the best way forward long term.
If you’re already forgetful about feeding your pets, then this asset could make it more difficult to remember to fill the feeder.
Dogs thrive best when they’re given plenty of attention throughout the day. Although that doesn’t mean you need to give up your day job, be mindful of your dog developing a closer bond with the dog feeder than with you!
The Best Automatic Dog Feeder Review
So, now you know everything you need to know about dog feeders, let’s take a look at the best ones on offer.
If you fancy creating your own dog feeder, check out this video:
This is one of the most popular and advanced dog feeders on Amazon right now, and it’s no wonder.
It allows up to 12 meals a day, which can be programmed with the digital timer — you can even adjust the portion sizes from 1/8 to 4 cups.
There’s no need to worry about jams stopping your pup getting their dinner thanks to the sophisticated conveyor system, while the pet-proof dispenser ensures there’s no chance of your dog getting in and ransacking the food store.
- Sophisticated digital timer program
- Can dispense dry and semi-moist food of any shape and size
- Slow feed mode to reduce risk of gulping
- Immediate feed and pause feed modes allow you to control meals on the fly without having to lose the programmed schedule
- Easy to clean
- Removable stainless steel bowl is hygienic
- Adjustable portion sizes
- Jam proof
- Bowl is on the smaller side — large dogs could tip it over
- Takes some time to get the hang of the programming function
This smart automatic pet feeder represents the cutting edge in automatic feeding.
It’s WiFi enabled and will connect to your home network. You can then schedule a feeding program via your phone — and communicate with your pet while you’re away while using the webcam feature!
This dog feeder can hold up to 6 meals of a maximum 8oz each, although you’re able to adjust portion sizes as you see fit. It can store both wet and dry food as a bonus too.
- WiFi enabled as a ‘smart’ feeder, allowing you to control it remotely
- Performs the feeding schedule even if you lose WiFi connection
- Webcam feature
- Online profile is intuitive and easy to use
- Can hold wet food (for up to 24 hours) as well as dry
- Can be programmed for multiple pets
- Can also dispense treats and even medication
- Will notify you when your pet is about to be fed/after feeding via SMS
- Tray is super secure and unable to be moved by your pet
- Simple set up
- Not battery powered so will fail if your power goes out
- Webcam camera quality isn’t the best
Much cheaper than the two options above, this basic auto dog feeder just gets the job done.
It’s big, with a 25 lb capacity, and sturdy to boot — the magnetic door closure is strong enough to keep away all resourceful cats and dogs while the 24 gauge galvanized steel ensures that it can’t be knocked over.
There’s no timer or scheduled programming with this feeder. You need to teach your dog how to push the magnetic door open to allow the food to fall down into your dog’s bowl. Of course, if your dog is prone to overeating, you may need to buy a more sophisticated contraption.
- Low cost
- Simple to use
- Sturdy enough to withstand pressure from large dogs
- Pets and pests won’t be able to access the food store
- Designed to hang off a wall
- Can be kept outside
- Easy to load food into
- Not 100% waterproof so can’t be kept outside in all weathers
- No timer or portion control
This is another smart automatic dog feeder that is more of a mid-market price than the one above.
You can control the feeder from your smartphone via the app — it’s compatible with both iOS and Android — which allows you to set feeding times, portion sizes and even to order dog food deliveries! It connects painlessly to your home WiFi network.
It can hold between 5 to 7 lbs of food and can handle portion sizes of between 1/16 and 1.5 cups.
- Easy to set up and control on the app
- Can order dog food deliveries when you’re low on food
- Has a rechargeable back up battery in case of power failure
- The hopper is machine washable
- Stainless steel bowl is washable and removable
- It can measure portion size according to the age, weight and activity level of your pet — great for weight control
- Recommends the best food recipes for your pup
- Low cost considering it’s smart capabilities
- Can only handle round-shaped dry kibble
- It can’t hold a huge amount of food
- Portion sizes are on the small side — not ideal for large dogs
This is another PetSafe product, but it’s basic and very cheap — great for people on a budget.
It can hold up to two meals that can be dispensed within a 48 hour period, and is only really suitable for small and medium sized dogs thanks to its compact size.
But while small, it’s hard to argue with it’s low price tag — and it only requires one AA battery!
- Very cheap
- Food trays are dishwasher safe
- Each tray can hold up to 1.5 cups of dry kibble
- Turn to set timers can be used over a 48 hour period
- Only requires 1 AA battery
- Reasonably sturdy considering size — dogs will find it hard to get inside!
- Tip proof base
- Very small and not suitable for large dogs
- Not suitable for wet food
Have you used an auto dog feeder for your pup yet?