Technology and automation is creeping up more and more in almost every aspect of our lives and the animal industry is no different.
From GPS location necklaces , to health and care tracking mobile phone applications, heated dog digital pet identification tag beds, the world of dog ownership and technology has indeed collided .
One of the most useful recent advancements in technology aimed at our pets is the programmable, automatic dog electronic feeder.
These devices are not meant to completely replace your care and attention with regards to feeding your dog. They must give a helpful hand to ensure your dog’s needs are taken care of if you find yourself out of the house for a full day, or prefer a longer ‘hands off’ approach to regular stiff feeding times.
Automatic pet feeders are sleek, modern pieces of equipment that do not look like it’s in the house and are available in a wide variety of colors and styles, with many practical features for portion control and timing looking.
Read on for a discussion on the best automatic dog feeder models on the market, why you might consider buying one, when they are useful and the features to aim for and a few to avoid.
What is a dog automatic feeder?
Automatic dog feeders are exactly what they look like – pet food dispensers that automatically pour food either through electronic pre-programming or by gravity.
They usually consist of two parts: a glass or air-tight plastic hopper that contains food before it is released, and a plastic, ceramic bowl or stainless steel food that is distributed in and that your dog eat on.
Why use a dog automatic feeder? When are they useful?
Automatic dog feeders will be an incredibly useful addition to anyone unable to commit to regular dog feeds – who could be elderly or disabled, or even just people working away from home, those on a change basis of speed or those who take a short break away from their home without their dog.
They are also a great tool for homeowners looking to control their dog’s weight and how much their dog is eating. Electronic dog feeders will allow portion size and scheduled feedings to pre-program you so that your dog will reap the health benefits of eating small, but regular meals.
What types of Automatic Dog Feeder exist?
There are two main types of automatic pet feeding, with many variations on the same two basic themes:
Gravity Pet Feeders
Gravity Feeders are the least sophisticated type of automatic dog feeder so every time your dog eats, the food will naturally fall from the hopper into the bowl, replenishing what has been eaten.
Once the container is full, the dispenser will not be able to release more food as the food will be saved in the hopper, preventing further flow.
Advantages of Gravity Pet Feeders:
There is no fiddly programming needed with a gravity feeder so you can be sure that the mechanism will never fail and your dog will never miss a meal.
Disadvantages of Gravity Pet Feeders:
Of course, the flip side to this is that your dog will have unlimited access to his food that could easily lead to overeating and its related health conditions, such as obesity.
Electronic Pet Feeders
Electronic feeders are the most popular type of autoloader as they allow you total control over exactly how much your dog eats and when they can eat.
You need to pre-program them with feeding times and portion size measured, then the food is automatically distributed accordingly, at the exact times and quantities you have programmed.
Advantages of Electronic Pet Feeders:
The main benefit of electronic feeders is the degree of control you have over your dog’s feed, no matter where you happen to be at the time of feeding – it’s perfect for weight control or handling conditions such as hypoglycemia, pancreatitis and diabetes as you can make sure your dog likes small and regular meals.
Eating these regularly balanced and controlled portion sizes ensures that your dog will not be gorging on their food – this could lead to bloating and obesity – and promotes easy digestion, according to Petful .
It’s easy to overestimate the size of the portions with the owners just going by the view alone, but an electronic dog loader ensures portions are correct each time.
Disadvantages of Electronic Pet Feeders:
It is always useful to do your research regarding electronic feeders and to invest in a quality product. Low quality products can result in programming errors resulting in your dog missing a meal, overeating or being malnourished.
So, make sure that you only invest in a good, reliable quality diet, such as those that are discussed later in this page.
Advantages of Using an Automatic Dog Feeder – Summary
Let’s quickly summarize the main benefits with the help of an automatic dog feeder, so that you can see at a glance if it is something you could benefit from:
Automatic dog feeders guarantee your dog is fed independently of your own location or circumstances. They must never miss a meal!
Electronic dog feeders offer additional benefits like portion control and planned feeding. This makes it easier to manage your dog’s weight and related medical conditions.
Self-contained measure and bowl of eating so there is less washing and cleaning for you (no measuring cups to wash and so on.)
Eliminate the need to ask friends or family for favors, to feed your dog if you’re out for long hours a day.
Downsides using an automatic dog feeder – is there?
One criticism of automatic pet feeders is that they remove the benefits and training opportunities offered by a “normal” meal routine whereby the dog owner and dog the quality of spending time together and training routines are applied .
With an automatic feeder, of course, there is no requirement for your dog to sit down before eating, for example.
You can counter this by spending alternate time together to link and strengthen their training. And you still have the property and are supplier of many other things your dog needs, like toys, exercise, love and praise and so on.
We have already discussed the drawbacks at gravity feeders where they allow your dog unlimited access to their food – a problem unless your dog is very self-restraining with their eating habits (a rare quality!).
Taking this into consideration, we recommend electronic, measured portions, automatic dog feeders from those based solely and not gravity.
What to look for in Dog Feeders Best Automatic
The possibility of programming several meals every day.
Adjustable portion sizes so that you can better meet the needs and habits of your dog.
different speed feeding modes so that you can control how fast your dog is eating. Easy programming.
A structure of the hopper and bowl that is safe and easy to clean.
A solid design that will not be overturned by heavy legs.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at – in our opinion – the best automatic electronic feeders available on the market today:
Our selection of the best Feeder automatic pet models on the market today
Petsafe Healthy Pet Simply RSS
Up to 12 meals can be scheduled each day.
Portion sizes are adjustable from 1/8 of a cup all the way up to 4 cups and meals are served using a conveyor system to ensure precision and portion control.
Has a “slow feeding mode” by which meals are distributed more than 15 minutes. This prevents your dog from eating too fast and avoids conditions such as bloating or vomiting.
It also has an “instant food mode” so that the next meal game is distributed immediately.
The “pause power mode” allows you to immediately stop feeding – for example, if your plans or schedule changes – without losing your programming, so it can be immediately started again once you’re ready .
The bowl from which your dog eats is stainless steel and is dishwasher safe. The hopper is plastic without BPA ensuring safety and non-toxicity.
It is a solid, sturdy design without the risk of dog paws clawing their way into the hopper to try and extract extra food.
The disadvantages : There is no food level monitoring to show you how much food is left in the hopper or when food is depleted. You will need to actively open the top cover and keep an eye on the level to check it. But you can see the level through the plastic hopper just by looking at it, so that’s not really much of a problem.
Electronic Oxgord Feeder Automatic Programmable Dog Timer
It has a voice recorder and speakerphone so you can record your voice calling your pet for meal times, thereby restoring some of the social time you miss with an autoloader.
There is an LCD screen for easy and clear programming.
The hopper has a capacity of 45 cups and is translucent so that it is easy to check the levels of food.
It is unblockable with sensors installed to avoid overloading.
It can not be knocked over by curious dogs looking for extra food: there is a pet lock to test and a thick-bottomed base.
It is easy to clean the hopper and the bowl detach easily and disassemble.
There is a low battery indicator telling you when it’s time to recharge.
The disadvantages :
Only one to four meals can be scheduled per day (although to be fair no dog should eat more than 4 times a day, usually no more than 2!).
The variety of portion sizes allowed is minimal, stretching just ½ cup 2 ½ cups. Changing the batteries in the power supply has been reported to lose the scheduled feed schedules, which means that you may have to reprogram regularly.
Pet Feedster USA PF-10 Pet Feedster Automated Pet Feeder
Advantages : Able to distribute a wide variety of portion sizes, from a teaspoon of all the way up to 6 cups. It can store up to 10 lbs of food and is made anti-proof by the water tray at the base. It is the only autoloader on the market that can be used both by DC and battery power making sure you never need to worry about power failure. It works very calmly so your dog will not be scared by loud noises. Very easy to clean – the bowl is removable and dishwasher safe. It comes with the manufacturer’s 1-year limited warranty for any mechanical problems you may have.
The disadvantages : The power components are not as robust as those of the rest of our selections. In particular, the engine can get stuck on pieces of kibble! A rare event and a negligible risk with many authors more than satisfied with this charger. But something we should highlight!
PetNet SmartFeeder – Automatic Pet Feeder for Dogs and Cats
Advantages : The PetNet SmartFeeder’s USP is that power – times and portion sizes – can be controlled and programmed remotely using your iOS device giving you more control and flexibility over your dog’s eating habits wherever you are in the world. It also provides a unique nutritional plan for your dog based on their needs and specifications to determine the perfect serving size and type of food for them individually. It will inform you about their diet, the level of food and its own battery life and can even order and have delivered your dog’s chosen food when the levels are low. It works very quietly and has an elegant design. There is a rechargeable backup battery in place in case the primary goes down. Both the hopper and the bowl in the dishwasher.
The disadvantages : The premise of the SmartFeeder is that it is controlled online via the cloud. This means that you lose control over it as soon as you lose a good WiFi connection. In addition, it can only be used in conjunction with an iOS device, which means that this power supply is useless for Android users.
While all the above models have a number of features, the clear winner for us is certainly the Simple Petsafe Healthy Pet RSS.
While this may not have the extravagant additional features of an integrated voice recorder, like the Oxgord, or the iOS remote, like the PetNet SmartFeeder, it is reliable and sports all the basic requirements in addition to vending machines, which some of the other models are missing.
Most importantly, up to 12 meals can be scheduled per day and a wide variety of portion sizes can be programmed, which means the needs and habits can easily be catered for to your dog. Feed speed settings not only allow you to control how much your dog eats, but also how fast they eat, very important if your dog engulfs dinner and is at risk for bloating.
Finally, the design of the Petsafe is robust and its components easy to clean. So for us, it’s the best automatic dog charger in our opinion.