Regular mealtimes are essential for our dogs. But if you’re delayed or working long hours, it’s not always easy to keep to a feeding schedule. The best automatic dog feeder is a valuable tool if you can’t guarantee that you’ll be around at the same time each day to give your dog food.
While they should never replace quality time spent with your dog, they do fill a gap and enable you to feed your dog even when you’re not around.
Why Use an Automatic Dog Feeder?
An automatic dog feeder allows you to keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule when you’d struggle to do so otherwise. Automatic feeders are especially useful for dogs that need to eat several small meals a day. They are perfect for managing conditions like hypoglycemia, diabetes, and pancreatitis.
Not only do automatic dog feeders enable you to schedule regular meal times, but many of them also offer portion control, ensuring your dog doesn’t overeat.
Types of Automatic Dog Feeders
Most automatic feeders have two parts; a hopper made of glass or plastic that stores the food before it’s released, and a bowl that your dog eats the food from, made of plastic, stainless steel, or ceramic.
Automatic feeders tend to fall into one of two groups; Gravity Feeder or Electronic feeder, both of which have their advantages and disadvantages.
As the name suggests, a gravity dog feeder works by using gravity to dispense dry kibble. Food naturally falls from the hopper into the bowl below.
If the bowl stays full, it prevents other dog food from dropping as it backs up into the dispenser. However, as soon your dog begins to eat, it allows more food to be released.
The advantage of a gravity dog feeder is that they’re simple. There’s no need for pre-programming or complicated schedules. The disadvantage is that you can’t determine a feeding schedule. Your dog can continue to eat until the dispenser is empty.
However, they are ideal if your dog eats too quickly as it slows your dog down are perfect for dogs that self-regulate their food intake.
Electronic automatic dog feeders are generally battery or mains powered and offer much more flexibility. You’ll find hopper and bowl styles, plate feeders with segmented bowls that present one section of food at a time, as well as smart options that you can program from your phone.
Pre-programming the automatic dog feeder with feeding times and portion sizes gives you total control over your dog’s meals and ensures that they always get the right amount of food at the right time.
How to choose an Automatic Dog Feeder
There are many options on the market, but here are a few things to consider before you choose.
- Do you need to schedule multiple meals?
- Do you need to offer different portion sizes per meal?
- Are you a multi-pet household?
- How determined is your dog to get to the food?
- How much food can the unit hold?
- How many portions can the unit deliver, and over what length of time?
- Do you want additional features like a webcam or voice recording?
We’ve based all our choices of automatic pet feeders on programmable options rather than gravity feeders. We believe these provide a better experience for both you and your dog and help prevent overeating.
- Automatic Food Dispenser Makes Feeding Hassle Free for Pets’ Dietary Health & Wellbeing
- Dispense from 1-10 Portions Per Meal, Each Portion is 24ml, Set Up to 4 Daily Distribution Alarms; Simply Pick Your Portion Size & Unit Dispenses Dry Meals
- Blue Lightup LCD Clock & Display Provides Easily Adjustable Settings; Magnetic Lock Lid
The Arf automatic dog feeder gives you the ability to set up to four meal times a day, customize the portion size and record a message to tell your dog it’s dinner time.
It’s got a generous 1.4-gallon capacity and distributes up to ten portions of food per meal, each portion being 24ml. The LCD clock and display are easy to read, and you can run it from three-D batteries or plug it into the mains.
The unit is tall and slim, and there’s an indicator light when the battery is low, so you’ll always know when you need to plug in or get new batteries.
The food tray and the hopper are detachable for easy cleaning (handwash only), and it comes with a magnetic lid preventing ‘all you can eat’ parties while you’re away.
- The power cord means that you never have to worry about the batteries running low.
- It holds a generous amount of food, meaning less time spent topping-up
- Your dog can’t see the food in the hopper, which means they’re less likely to try to get to it
- Lots of flexibility in mealtimes and portion size
- Top-heavy so can be easily knocked over
- Portion size not consistent
- Dry kibble only
- Large kibble tends to get jammed
- SCHEDULE YOUR PET'S MEALS: Conveniently schedule up to 12 meals per day for your cat or dog; best for cats and small to medium sized dogs
- FLEXIBLE PORTIONS: Schedule 1/8 cup to 4 cups per meal depending on your pet’s unique needs; requires 4 D-cell alkaline batteries (not included) or power adaptor (adaptor sold separately)
- WORKS WITH MOST KIBBLE: Feeder works with dry and semi-moist pet kibble that is up to 3/4 inch in diameter
The Petsafe Healthy comes with pre-set meal portions delivered twice a day, but if that doesn’t suit you, it’s fully customizable too. With up to twelve meals a day and portions ranging from 1/8-cup to 4-cups, it’s suitable for small and large dogs.
Running off four D batteries (a mains adapter available as an optional extra) provides scheduled meals for up to a year on a single set.
The food storage container can hold up to twenty-four cups of dry food, but it’s also suitable for semi-moist pellets too. What’s more, there’s a lever inside the hopper that allows you to adjust for the size of pet food.
The feeder uses a conveyor belt system to dispense food which gives you a slow feed mode. This selection enables the spread of meals over fifteen minutes to prevent gulping and any resulting issues like bloat.
The stainless-steel food bowl is dishwasher safe, holds up to four cups of food, and is attached to the unit via a hoop ensuring that it stays in place.
The lid locks but isn’t wholly air-tight, which means that dogs can smell the food in the hopper. While it’s not an issue for some dogs, others will find it too tempting not to try to raid.
The display lets you know when it’s time to change batteries, and the translucent hopper means that you’ll easily be able to see when it’s low on food.
- Long battery life of around a year
- Suitable for dry and semi-moist food
- An adjustable lever allows for different size dog food, so large or small kibble doesn’t get stuck.
- It has a ‘slow feed’ option that dispenses food slowly over a period to prevent gulping.
- Not the easiest automatic feeder to program
- A determined dog can quickly open the top and gain access to the food
- It doesn’t always dispense the right amount of kibble
- Because the dog feeder uses a conveyor belt system, intelligent dogs quickly learn they can knock pieces of food off the belt and get an in-between meal with a bit of gentle pushing.
- 【Schedule Pet Food Times and Portions】: pre-programmable pet feeder features a built-in timer and multiple sections to help you feed your pet up to 6 meals per day, one initial feed and five...
- 【6 Isolated wet and day food sections】: automatic pet food dispensers are made Environmental protection materials care for your pet's health. Dishwasher safe and easy to clean. or tasty treats to...
- 【Leave personalIzed messages】: Recording and playing function，Each pet food dispenser has a built-in voice recorder that lets you capture up to 10 seconds of your voice.
This tray-style automatic dog feeder from Qpets is perfect for small dogs. It has six compartments, each holding up to one cup of dog food, allowing you to feed your dog six times in a twenty-four-hour period.
It’s flexible as it’s suitable for dry, semi-moist, and wet food (although it can dry out), and you can personalize a voice recording for your dog to let them know when their food arrives.
Battery operated, it takes four size C batteries. As you fill each compartment yourself, it means that there’s no variation in the portion sizes, giving you complete control.
A lid lock keeps the rest of the food safe until it’s time, and there is a clear LCD and clock that make programming easy.
- Simple to use
- As you load the food into the compartments, you always know how much your dog is getting.
- Although not designed for wet food, it’s possible to use it. Bear in mind food safety-wet food will spoil quickly.
- The food compartments are small, so not suitable for large dogs
- Dogs that are very food motivated find it easy to get the lid off and eat all six portions in one go
- Complicated to set up
- You can only set up the timer on the hour
- SMARTPHONE PROGRAMMING: Control your pet's meal time from anywhere using your smartphone; Program up to 15 meals to feed on your pet's schedule; 1-50 portions per meals, about 5g per portions,the Feed...
- RECORD A CUSTOM MESSAGE FOR YOUR PET: Keep your pet excited about meal times! Press and hold the record button to begin recording a voice message to be played as each feeding dispenses....
- LOW FOOD SENSOR: The feeder automatically notifies you when food levels are low; you’ll also receive an alert if the hopper becomes empty;BATTERY BACKUP:The pet feeder is wall powered and/or battery...
The WOPET Smart pet feeder connects to your wi-fi network at home. It allows remote access via iOS and Android. It has a built-in voice recorder, so you can record a ‘food is ready’ message for your dog to let them know that dinners on the table.
There’s no need to worry if your internet is a bit flaky. Once you’ve set your schedule, the programs are stored in the feeder, so even if your wi-fi goes down, the WOPET has battery backup and is smart enough to keep going without it.
Suitable for dry dog food, you can program up to fifteen meals a day. Portion sizes range from 5g to 250g, so it’s perfect for all dog sizes.
The unit itself is pretty much tamper-proof and is heavy enough not to be accidentally knocked over.
- Simple set up and easy to program
- Almost limitless program options
- Mains powered but with battery option, so you never have to worry about running out of power.
- You can’t remove the food hopper for cleaning, which is a huge disadvantage
- The voice feature plays at the same time the food is dispensed, which makes it tricky to hear
- Dry food only
- 【Feed From Your Phone & Alexa Enabled】: This automatic pet feeder will make your life much easier. Set a feeding schedule andFeed your pet anytime from your smartphone with the smart feed app...
- 【Personalized Pet Feeding】: Up to 10 scheduled feedings. Meals can be dispensed from 1/5 cup to 4 cups( 20g-400g) to fit your pet's unique feeding needs. the Feed Now option allows you to feed...
- 【DUO FRESH LOCK SYSTEM】: keep the food dry and fresh thought the day. The spacious storage bucket keeps up to 6 lbs of dry food, so your pet stays fed for more days between refills. With such food...
Our second choice of smart pet feeder is brilliant. Once you’ve set the Petkit Smart Feeder and paired it to the corresponding app, you can control it via your phone or the Alexa app. The unit itself stores up to twenty portions of food that can be dispensed up to ten times.
The Petkit is mains powered but has a backup battery just in case of a power outage. Not only that but once your dog’s food schedule is set, it doesn’t matter if your wi-fi goes down; the unit will still dispense with your dog’s food giving you peace of mind.
The lid locks securely prevent accidental feedings, and there’s a ‘low food level’ sensor to let you know when you need to refill.
- Large Hopper
- Easy to set up
- Easy to clean
- Food does get jammed
- As with all smart devices, if the company’s servers go down – no food
Best Automatic dog feeders summary
Suppose you want a simple dog feeder that’s perfect for portion control. In that case, we recommend the Qpets Automatic Pet Feeder while not as sophisticated as other automatic dog feeders, it does the job it’s designed to do. If you need more flexibility than the Qpets allows, then the PetSafe Simply Feed Automatic Feeder is our top choice despite the inconsistency in portion size.
Although we love the Smart feeders’ tech, they are relatively new and suffer from teething issues. Despite this, they are worth considering as they offer the most functionality.
Last update on 2021-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API