As much as we all love our dogs, there are times when we unfortunately have to leave them home alone. Whether you have to stay late at work one night, or your dog walker calls in sick, it can be tough on both you and your dog to be apart. But there’s one thing we can do to help make life a little bit better for them: get them on a regular feeding schedule.
Are automatic feeders good for dogs?
Not only is eating at the same time every day just healthy for your dog, but it can also make your life easier as well. After all, a dog that eats on a schedule poops on a schedule — meaning you’re less likely to come home to an accident. Regular eating also helps you notice if something is wrong with your dog’s health because often the first sign that your pup is sick is a lack of appetite.
This is where automatic feeders come in handy. They will allow you to set up a routine that keeps your dog fed at the same time everyday — regardless of whether you’re home or not.
Although auto-feeders sound like a great one-size-fits-all option for feeding your dogs while you’re away, that’s not always the case. Many feeders only dispense around one cup of food at a time, so if you have a larger dog that needs to eat more, you’ll need to get one that can serve a larger portion of food.
What types of automatic feeders are there?
There are four main types of automatic dog feeders: gravity feeders, programmable models that release a set amount of food at a set time, programmable plate feeders, and smart models that can be controlled from your phone.
We left gravity feeders out from this list because they don’t really automatically feed your pet. This type of feeder is basically designed to keep the food bowl full at all times, refilling whenever your dog eats. This is essentially a recipe for keeping your dog overfed, which isn’t great for your pup’s health.
The other three types are better options for automatic feeding. Programmable models with a timer allow you to select the amount of food and dispensing time. Plate feeders require you to portion out the food into multiple compartments (which gives you control over the exact amount) and then they rotate to reveal one section at a time. And finally, smart feeders give you full remote control, allowing you to set feeding times, amounts, and more through a smartphone app.
What to consider when choosing an auto dog feeder
Take stock of your current feeding schedule and routine. Are you usually rushing home to feed your pup? Do they prefer smaller meals throughout the day or 1-2 large meals? Are you a fan of digital systems vs. automatic timers that release food? Is having a manual option important? This will all depend on your pet and personal preference.
Bonus features are good to take into account, too! Some dog feeders come with a whole host of other perks to make being apart easier for both of you — from video cameras, to phone status updates, to fun food games that keep your dog entertained.
You should also consider you dog’s diet before pulling the trigger on an automatic feeder. If your pooch needs to lose a few pounds, relying on an automatic pet feeder that portions food out by itself isn’t the best option. Many feeders tend to release a bit more than the programmed amount, so it’s easy for a dog to eat more than the recommended serving size. The solution to avoid overfeeding with an automatic feeder is to get one that allows you to pre-portion your dogs food, like the PetSafe EatWell 5-Meal Automatic Pet Feeder.
So, what is the best automatic dog feeder?
Whether you’re just looking for help to keep your dog fed every day or you want something special that delivers more, there are plenty of options out there. Peep our top picks below.