Automatic dog feeders might not seem like a necessity, until that impromptu business trip comes calling and you don’t have anybody to pet sit in your absence.
It is a pretty useful purchase, especially for professionals who have busy work schedules and even for seniors who find it difficult to frequently refill feeding bowls.
We know what you just thought. But you don’t want to leave dog food open even for a day as it can be prone to bacterial contamination. Also, chances are that your pet might eat all the food they can at one go and starve for the rest of the day(s).
As the name suggests, automatic pet feeders dispense food in specific quantities at preset times.
That of course is just the tip of the iceberg.
Depending on what you are willing to spend, you can get advanced pet feeders that even send you alerts whenever your dog eats his meal.
If this is the first time you are shopping for pet feeders, then here’s some help.
Automatic Dog Feeder Review Center 2019
|Image||Automatic Dog Feeders||Rating|
|#1 - PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder||99%|
|#2 - WOpet SmartFeeder Automatic Pet Dog and Cat Feeder||96%|
|#3 - Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder Food Dispenser for Dogs & Cats||93%|
|#4 - PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder||89%|
|#5 - PetSafe 5-Meal Pet Feeder||85%|
How we selected the best automated dog feeder
Our selections were based on three key variables.
The level of automation: Different people have different needs from a programmable dog feeder. While some pet parents want to be able to control their pet’s meals from work or when they are travelling, others want something that prevents their pet from waking them up in the middle of the night for a snack. To this end, we have included the most advanced automatic pet feeder, in the PetSafe Smartfeed and the WOpet Smartfeeder. But we have also included a basic one in the Pet Safe 5-meal dispenser. We didn’t select gravity feeders because they are prone to jamming.
The number of meals dispensed: Our best pet feeder allows you to dispense up to 12 meals a day and even customize the portion sizes for each meal. That more than suffices even for large dog breeds and keeps you covered for at least 3-4 days of travel. P.S. Always ensure that your pet has a steady supply of fresh water when you are away from home.
Ease of use: As much as you seek automation, you do not want to be overwhelmed by all the fancy settings and make a mess of meal time. All the pet feeders in this list are extremely user friendly. You can sync them with your smart phone, control portion sizes, set meal times, record videos, see your pet, speak to them. Whew! All of this without spending hours with the instruction manual.
Pet safe: Secure food containers are one of the most important features that pet parents desire. All the automatic pet feeders in this list feature latches or magnetic locks that prevent cats and dogs from pawing their way into them.
Having worked closely with two pet rescue centers and having fostered several cats, dogs and chinchillas, we have had the opportunity to test out a lot of automatic pet feeders. And we can say that most of them have glaring flaws that make them prone to jamming and malfunctioning. The last thing you need is your pet to stay hungry all day while you are under the impression that they are being fed on time.
So, here are our recommendations for the most reliable and trusted programmable dog feeders.
#1 – PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder
The PetSafe Smart Feed is the successor to the extremely popular PetSafe Automatic dog feeder. (We owned two of these)
This version is more advanced and crammed to the brim with features. To give you some perspective, it syncs with your smartphone, can be controlled and programmed from anywhere in the world using the smartphone app and can store as many as 12 programmed meals varying in sizes and feed times.
Although it might come across as gimmicky, each and every feature is practical and useful.
The smart dog feeder
PetSafe makes it easy to program meal times and sizes from just about anywhere. You can schedule up to 12 meals a day with portion sizes ranging from 1/8th of a cup to 4 cups, depending on Bowser’s appetite.
For dogs that gulp their food, there’s a slow feed option that slows down the dispensing time. In other words, a single portion can be dispensed over a 15-minute period. Less chances of choking or vomiting.
If your pet is craving for some chow beyond the scheduled meals, then you can activate the Feed Now option which instantly dispenses a portion of food any time you need.
When your dog is fed, you get a notification on the app. Smart!
Completely Pet Safe
Anyone who’s used dog feeders would know that pets can try their best to jailbreak the device to get access to the hidden dog food treasure.
Thankfully, the PetSafe is truly Pet Safe. It features a translucent hopper that can store dry or semi-moist food, safely locked away from stealthy paws.
No amount of pawing or clawing is going to dispense food. Both dispenser and hopper are completely secure.
The food itself is dispensed into a stainless steel bowl that’s dishwasher safe.
Overall, it’s effortless, timely and automated pet feeding.
- Completely automatic pet feeding
- Syncs with smart phone
- Set up to 12 meals a day in varying portion sizes
- Preprogrammed meals will be dispensed even if router is offline
- Works with dry and semi-moist food
- Secure hopper that prevents pets from breaking in
- Sends you alerts when your pet is fed
- There is a button on the pet feeder and some smart pets will eventually figure out that pressing it dispenses food. As a workaround, use some duct tape to cover the button.
#2 – WOpet SmartFeeder Automatic Pet Dog and Cat Feeder
If you thought that a pet feeder that connects to your smartphone was advanced enough, then here’s the WOpet SmartFeeder.
This one does everything that the PetSafe Smart Feed does. Additionally, it also comes with a night vision enabled HD camera and microphone with two-way audio.
If your pet refuses to eat until they hear your voice, the WOpet pet feeder has you covered. Even better, you can see a live video of your pet having their sumptuous meal.
Up to four meals a day
The WOpets SmartFeeder allows you to program up to 4 meals a day. That’s a lot less than the 12 meals that the PetSafe can dispense.
But 4 meals with portion sizes varying from 1/8th of a cup to 1 cup usually suffices for most small to medium sized dogs and cats.
You can always manually dispense food beyond the scheduled meals using the WOpets app.
In case of a power outage or loss of Wi-Fi connectivity, it comes with a backup battery that kicks in and automatically dispenses the food.
Large container for up to 17 cups of food
The WOpets smartfeeder features a large dog food container that holds up to 17 cups of pet food at a time.
This reduces the need for frequent refills and keeps you covered for days or even weeks.
The food is dispensed into a dishwasher safe, stainless steel bowl. The bowl is detachable and easy to clean.
- Completely automatic programmable dog feeder
- Syncs with your smartphone (Android and iOS) using the WOpets app
- Dispenses up to 4 meals a day
- Portion sizes varying from 1/8th of a cup to 1 cup
- Food container holds up to 17 cups of food
- Backup battery works in case of a power outage
- Food dispensed into a dishwasher safe, stainless steel bowl
- Works only with dry food
- The 4 portions a day might not suffice for large dogs. That means that you will have to manually dispense the food many times
#3 – Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder Food Dispenser for Dogs & Cats
The Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder is the budget priced option in this list.
It is a programmable pet feeder that allows you to preset and dispense up to 10 meals a day with each meal portion fixed at 0.8 oz.
You can set up to 4 meal alarms and even a meal call for your pet in your own recorded voice, which encourages fussy pets to eat their meals in your absence.
Blue LCD display
Programming the Arf Pets automatic pet feeder is a breeze. It has a large, blue LCD display with alphanumeric icons for most of the settings. You can set meal times, number of meals and set alarms.
Meal sizes can be customized based on a chart that’s provided in the instruction manual. Each meal is 0.8 oz and you can increase this up to 1 cup per serving.
The meal hopper comes with a magnetic lock and accommodates approximately 18 cups of dog food, which should suffice for a few days at least.
Sturdy unit that’s difficult to break into
The magnetic lock makes the food container almost impossible to break into. However, it won’t stop your pets from trying and they might tip the whole unit over. It weighs only 4.63 lbs. without food in the container.
To prevent this, keep this next to a wall. The Arf Pets Automatic feeder works on AC power and 3x D-sized batteries.
If you are going to be away for a while, it is recommended that you use batteries to power it so that it keeps working in case of a power failure.
One minor grumble that we have is that the dispensing plate/bowl is plastic. We always prefer stainless steel because it’s easier to clean and does not leech chemicals into the food.
- Budget priced automatic pet feeder
- Large LCD display with alphanumeric icons
- Dispense up to 10 meals a day in 0.8 oz increments
- Set up to 4 alarms a day
- Record a meal call for your pet in your own voice
- Magnetic lock on the food hopper
- Holds up to 18 cups of dry food
- Works only with dry food
- Does not sync with your smart phone
#4 – PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder
The PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed is the non-Wi-Fi compatible version of the Smart Feed pet feeder.
So, if you are looking for the reliability and automation of PetSafe, minus the Wi-Fi compatibility and bells and whistles, then this is one of the best pet feeders in the market currently.
You can pre-program up to 12 meals with portion sizes ranging from 1/8th of a cup to 4 cups.
And it has an LCD screen with 5 buttons for easy navigation and programming.
Sturdy little food dispenser
This is a very durable unit with a tough black plastic casing that can easily resist the most resilient pair of paws. A latch keeps the food hopper secured and weighing almost 5 pounds, it isn’t the easiest one to topple.
However, we still recommend that you keep this next to a wall. Just in case.
The hopper itself is translucent and you can easily know when it’s time for a refill. Way better than having to manually check the container every now and then.
Unlike most other automated pet feeders, Pet Safe works with both wet and dry food kibbles of varying sizes.
Multiple modes to suit your pet’s eating habits
PetSafe throws in a bunch of automated feeding modes that can be selected based on your pet’s eating habits. There’s a slow feed mode that dispenses the food in very limited quantities over a 15-minute period. This is perfect for dogs that gulp their food fast.
There’s an immediate feed mode that dispenses a second serving immediately after the first one and there’s a pause feed mode that stops dispensing temporarily.
We love the large stainless steel food bowl that can hold up to 5 cups of dog food at a time. It’s perfect for large dogs and small ones.
- Completely programmable automated pet feeder
- Dispense up to 12 meals a day
- Customizable portion sizes
- LCD screen with 5 buttons for navigation
- Translucent container with latch
- Stainless steel bowl
- Multiple food modes
#5 – PetSafe 5-Meal Pet Feeder
Petsafe’s 5-meal pet feeder is ideal for working pet parents who want to pre-program pet meals on a daily basis.
It allows you to preprogram 5 meals a day at different times. Portion sizes can be customized and you can also use it if your pet loves the occasional midnight snack.
Easy to program
Programming the 5-meal pet feeder is a no-brainer. Just select the meal timings, load the dry or semi-moist food into the five slots in the carousel and you are set.
At the selected time, the carousel starts to rotate with a whirr, which indicates to your pet that chow is about to be served.
Most dogs and cats easily get adjusted to the soft whirring sound. One of the best aspects is that you can dispense as much food as you want to in one serving.
If the amount of food in one slot of the carousel doesn’t suffice, then you can always preset the feeder to dispense two servings at a time and so on.
Easy to clean
The food carousel is detachable and dishwasher safe. Also, the unit when snapped shut is almost impossible to bypass.
So, even if you have a glutton feline who loves to topple over food dispensers, they have their task cut out with this one.
- Budget priced automated food dispenser
- Perfect for everyday use
- Serve up to 5 meals a day in divided portions
- Works with dry and semi-moist food
- LCD screen makes it easy to program
- Dishwasher safe carousel
- This is an automated food dispenser that can dispense food over a 24-hour period only. If you are looking for something that can keep you covered for two to three days, then this won’t work for you.
How to Select Automatic Dog Feeders: A Buying Guide
One of the most important responsibilities you have when it comes to taking care of your dog is feeding him or her. But with schedules so hectic these days, with people working more hours than they ever have before and errands to do after work, it can be really difficult to always feed on schedule. But you also don’t want your dog to go hungry. That’s where an automatic feeder comes in.
An automatic dog feeder is one of the most useful items that you can get because it allows you to miss several feedings in a row if you need to and still keeps your dog fed just as well as if you were doing it yourself. Automatic feeders are often combined with automatic watering units, and both of these together can be a great weight off your mind when you have a pet.
In this buying guide, we will be looking at all the things that you need to know when it comes to buying automatic feeders. There are several different types of feeders out there, and you want to make sure that you are choosing the best one for your dog. There are quite a few considerations, but you should have a much better idea on which one to get after you read this guide.
What is an Automatic Feeder?
So, what exactly is an automatic feeder? An automatic feeder is something that you can put near your dog house, in your outdoor dog kennel or in your kitchen that dispenses wet or dry dog food. An automatic dog feeder can be extremely useful because you are not always going to be there to feed your dog on schedule. But most experts recommend that you do feed them on a schedule. There are several types of automatic feeders to be aware of, each utilizing a different mechanism for dispensing the food, and there are factors that can help you determine which feeder you need as well.
Types of Automatic Dog Feeders
There are several types of automatic dog feeders out there. Automatic dog feeders come in four basic types. The most common, and the one that uses the least sophisticated technology, is the gravity ted automatic feeder. These are great because they’re simple and almost never fail, but they do not dispense food on a schedule like some of the other automatic feeders do. Let’s take a look at each of these automatic feeders in turn and help you decide which one of the four is going to be best for your pet.
Gravity-Fed Feeders: The first is the gravity fed automatic feeder. The gravity fed automatic feeder is a type of feeder that you can combine with your dog bowl or other dog food container to keep it continually full. Whenever your dog eats some of the food that is in his or her bowl, then the automatic feeder will fill that space with more dog food. The advantage with this is that you don’t have to worry about it because it’s very simple and is always going to keep your dog food full – often lasting for days or weeks depending on the size of the dispenser. However, the disadvantage is that you cannot feed your dog on a schedule
Mechanized Vertical Feeders: Mechanized vertical feeders work in very much the same way as the gravity feeders. Except that instead of the bowl being full stopping the food from coming down, it is actually a chute that opens that allows the food to fill the bowl. That way, you can determine how much to feed your dog and then set the timer so that they get the food at regular times. This will prevent your dog from overeating. You can put this feeder next to your dog crate or dog playpen, and you can fill it with food from just about any of the dog food brands that are out there.
Clamshell-Style Dispensers: The clamshell-style dispensers that are on the market are also a great way to feed your dog regularly. The way that the clamshell dispenser works is by opening up a compartment so that your dog can eat at regular times. It is closed during other times. You can keep the clamshell style dispenser next to your dog bed and fill it with organic dog food, senior dog food, or any other type of food that you need to use. The advantage of the clamshell dispenser is that you can serve wet food if you want without having it gum up the works like you would if you used a vertical mechanized dispenser.
Circular Dispensers: There are also circular dispensers which have some distinct advantages over all of the other dispensers that have been mentioned here. Circular dispensers will actually rotate and have multiple compartments so that the appropriate compartment is rotated out where your dog can access it. This type of dispenser is unlike any of the other dispensers because it has the distinct advantage of being able to serve different meals for different parts of the day. In addition, if you need to add something to your dog’s meal once a day, these dispensers allow you to add medication for dogs such as fish oil for dogs or coconut oil for dogs to the food.
Factors That Can Help You Decide
There are a few factors that can help you decide which of the dispensers listed above that you need. These are things that you want to ask yourself before you start shopping for dispensers, because knowing the answers is going to make it a lot easier for you to choose the perfect automatic food dispenser for dogs. Let’s take a look at some of these factors individually.
Amount of Food
The amount of food that you need to serve a certainly a consideration; if a family wants to go on vacation, their choices are pretty limited without an automatic food dispenser and some way for their dog to get outside. They can always hire someone to come by and walk their dog and take them out for the bathroom – as well as to make sure they have enough food and water – or they can put their dog in a kennel while they are on vacation. However, with automatic food dispensers, you have more options.
For example, if you have an electronic pet door, then you can allow your dog to stay at home without supervision for several days at a time. But you need to combine that with an automatic dog feeder. You should also have a time-released dog food dispenser for water or some other kind of refillable water bowl. This allows you to leave for several days and know that your dog is going to have enough food and water as well as the ability to go outside and use the restroom, and all you have to do is send a friend over once a day or so to check on your dog and make sure that everything is still good.
Type of Food
The type of food that you serve is also a consideration. There is a difference between food for small dogs and food for large dogs. Food for large dogs is usually bigger and with some dispensers that could make it problematic. In addition, you may have specific food that you need to give your particular breed of dog such as dog food for Labradors or dog food for boxers, or you may need to include medication with food such as dog food for allergies or allergy medication.
The type of food that you serve or what you need to add into the food will be an important consideration when it comes to selecting the right automatic food dispenser. Some time release dog feeders are not going to work well with wet food, so if that is what you feed your dog then you’re going to have to choose an automatic dog feeder with timer that will support wet food. Also, the type of wet food that you serve might make a difference as to whether or not that particular feeder can work with it. The best thing to do is check reviews before you buy and find out if other people have had problems with wet food.
Size of Your Dog
The size of your dog is also a factor when it comes to the type of food dispenser that you will be getting. Automatic dog feeders can be affected by the size of your pet in two different ways. First of all, the size of your pet often determines the size of the food that you feed them. For example, puppy food is generally a smaller than food for great Danes. This is especially true when you’re talking about dry food. The size of the dry food that you get may or may not work with the feeder that you have chosen.
But the size of your dog also affects the size that you get in another way. For example, if you have a very small dog, then the chances of them knocking the bowl loose from the dispenser and preventing further food release without a major mess are minimal. But if you have a large dog and a flimsy dispenser, then you may have a problem. That’s what you want to choose large dog food dispensers if you have a large dog. You don’t want to choose an automatic dog food dispenser that is going to fall apart if your dog gets too excited eating or decides to paw at the dish.
Additional features like dinner bell features may also be considerations that you want to think about. The dinner bell feature on automatic dog feeders is something included to combine feeding time with a recording of your own voice or some other sound the let your dog know that it is time to eat.
The theory behind this is that your dog should be trained expect food at a specific time. That’s how experts say dogs are prevented from overeating and they feel less anxiety when they know when to expect food and it always is delivered when they expect it. But without letting your dog know that the food is available, it may be a while before they discover it. Without you calling them for dinner, they may not realize that there is food in their bowl.
That’s why an automatic dog feeder with timer that combines a recording or a bell sound that can alert your dog to let them know that there is food to eat will be best for those dogs that are used to eating at a specific time and are used to being called to the dog bowl when you feed them. This may not be important for owners who prefer to let their dogs eat when they feel hungry.
Automatic Water Dispensers
You may also want to consider an automatic water dispenser with your automatic dog food dispenser. If you are going to go out of town for a few days, knowing that your dog is going to continue to get food while you are gone can give you great peace of mind. But water is even more important than food. Simply filling a large dish isn’t going to be enough. You want an automatic water dispenser because all kinds of things can happen that would prevent your dog from getting water.
For example, if you fill your dog’s bowl up with water and leave town for a couple of days, the first time your dog drinks out of their bowl they could drink all of the water because they are overly thirsty or they can accidentally knock it over. This means that they will not have access to water while you are gone. But automatic water dispensers are much more stable and the water refills when your dog drinks it.
That’s why you should always combine auto feeders for dogs with an equivalent automatic water dispenser. However, do not get the models that combine the two of them. The water can become dirty due to food getting in and you want to keep your dog’s water clean.
Technology for Automatic Food Dispensers
There is a great deal of technology that goes into automatic food dispensers. The mechanism by which they feed your dog differs depending upon the feeder that you choose. But there can be other technology included as well. For example, some automatic dog feeders come with smart technology that let you know when your dog is eating and how much they are eating, often exporting the data to an app that you can view on your phone.
This also gives you peace of mind if you are out of town. If you have an automatic dog feeder that is letting you know that your dog is eating or drinking, and you do not have to worry about sending someone over to check on them to make sure they haven’t knocked the bowls over or something went wrong with the dog feeders.
Automatic Dog Feeder Tips
Some things that you may want to keep in mind when it comes to having an automatic feeder include elevating the feeder so that your dog does not have to lean down and be in an awkward position in order to eat out of it. This will prevent them from interacting too much with the feeder and reduces the danger of them knocking over the bowls. In addition, make sure that the battery is good or else the feeder cannot dispense food and check the capacity to ensure that it is large enough to keep your dog fed the entire time that you are gone.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that there are plenty of dog feeders out there, and some of them are pretty advanced when it comes to technology. But the type of automatic dog feeder that you choose for your dog will depend upon your specific needs, what type of food you’re feeding, the personality or breed of your dog and why you are getting a dog feeder in the first place.
For busy people, and automatic dog feeder can be ideal. There are a lot of things that human beings have to do during the day, and making sure that their dog is fed at a certain time can be pretty difficult. But when you have an automatic feeder, you have a lot more freedom because you don’t have to worry about feeding at a specific time. Unless you are planning on being gone on vacation, you can go with a pretty low capacity feeder that only last through the day. That way you can refill it.
Hopefully, this buying guide is given you some information that will help you choose the perfect automatic dog feeder for your furry friends. There are a lot of choices out there, but this guide should help.