In an ideal world, you would have ample time to look after your dog and take care of their every need. However, in the real world, you are likely to have a whole host of other responsibilities and from time to time, you are bound to need a helping hand. This is where an automatic dog feeder can play a central role in ensuring that your pooch has access to regular meals, as well as stopping them from wolfing down everything the moment that you have walked out of the front door.
An automatic pet feeder allows you to keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule without fretting that they are going to go hungry. But with so many different varieties and brands out there to choose from, selecting the right one can feel like a somewhat daunting task. To help you out, we have pulled together a list of the best automatic dog feeders on the market, along with their key features, so you can make an informed decision about which one suits your needs best.
The Best Automatic Dog Feeder
PetSafe 5-Meal Pet Feeder
Whether you are at home or elsewhere, this ingenious device gives you the option to feed your dog up to five pre-portioned meals every day. All you need to do is use the built-in digital clock and LCD display to choose the times which are best suited to your dog’s regular feeding times. If your pet has trouble with portion control and overeating, this is an ideal option for them.
When it comes time to clean the device, you can do so by simply putting the removable tray carousel in the dishwasher. Since it is made of BPA-free plastic, so you can rest assured that it is perfectly safe for your dog to eat from.
Automatically feed your pet up to five meals per day
Ideal for small to medium sized dogs
Built-in digital clock and LCD display
Removable, dishwasher-proof carousel tray
- Weight3.28 pounds
Petmate Pet Café Feeder
Thanks to the gravity feed technology, this dog feeder automatically refills as your dog empties the bowl. So, your pet will have access to a regular supply of dry food when they want it, which is a relief to anyone who has ever worried about their dog getting enough to eat while they are out. If you have multiple pets who need feeding, you can invest in the 6-pound capacity larger-sized device.
The wide-mouth bottle is easy to remove when you need to handwash it, and the easy-grab cut-outs allow you to lift up the whole feeder without spillages. A range of colors is available, meaning that it looks stylish in your home as well as being practical.
Easy-snap lid for loading food
Gravity-feed technology automatically refills bowl
Removable, wide-mouth bottle
Easy-grab cut-outs for transportation
- Weight1.15 pounds
Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder Food Dispenser
This pet feeder from Arf Pets gives you maximum freedom to dispense anywhere from 1 to 10 portions of 24ml food. Set up to four daily distribution alarms and you have the choice of portion sizes. You can even record your own personalized meal call of up to 10 seconds to get your dog ready to eat!
Operating the device is easy thanks to the blue light-up LCD clock and display. You can plug it into the wall or go wireless with three batteries.
Suitable for dogs of varying sizes
Set up to four daily distribution alarms
LCD clock and display for easy adjustment
Record your own personal meal calls
- BrandArf Pets
- Weight6.7 pounds
SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder
Do you have multiple pets and you are worried about them stealing each other’s food while you are out? This microchip pet feeder from SureFeed is a way of getting around this issue, which is especially important if you need to feed one of your dogs with prescription food. It is compatible with all identification microchips worldwide and will only open for the correct pet.
This product is also suitable for furry friends on strictly controlled diets for their weight, and since it is sealed up, it also helps to keep the food fresh and free of pests.
Usable with identification microchips worldwide and SureFlap RFID collar tags
Great for multi-pet households
Useful for dogs on weight management diets
- Weight2.2 pounds
PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder
One of the best features of this auto dog feeder is its high capacity. It can fit as much as 24 cups of dry dog food in the hopper and five cups in the bowl. You can program up to 12 meals a day to align with your pet’s food schedule perfectly. Further control is offered by the ‘Immediate Feed’ and ‘Pause’ modes, while you can also set it to dispense food slowly over a 15-minute period to prevent bloating and vomiting.
Most shapes and sizes of dry and semi-dry food are accommodated, and the pet-proof dispenser stops your greedy dog breaking in. Many of the individual components are easy to clean in the dishwasher.
Program up to 12 meals a day
Immediate Feed and Pause modes for maximum control
Reliable design that accommodates most dry pet food
- Weight4.61 pounds
Qpets Automatic Pet Feeder
Fill up the six compartments of this automatic pet feeder with dry or moist food and set the clock to open up as many as six times over a 24-hour period. And when dinner time rolls around, you can even record a six-second message to let your dog know that it is time to eat!
Also built into the device is a clock is an easy-to-read LCD and a lid lock that stores the food in the tray until it is time for your dog to be fed.
Six programmable compartments that can open over 24 hours
Record a six-second dinnertime message
Lid lock to stop your dog accessing the food early
- Weight2.9 pounds
AmazonBasics Self-Dispensing Gravity Pet Feeder and Waterer
For bargain hunters, this 2-in-1 bundle deal includes a small pet waterer, as well as a pet feeder. When you need to lift either one up to transport around, you can do so easily with the cut-out handles, while the non-skid rubber feet ensure stability.
Your dog will be able to eat and drink comfortably thanks to the extra-wide-mouth food hopper. And the water bottle can be detached easily whenever you need to clean or fill it.
Pet waterer and feeder included
Cut-out handles for easy transportation
Large food hopper and water bottle
- Weight1.82 pounds
WESTLINK 6L Automatic Pet Feeder Food Dispenser
This WESTLINK device is one of the best automatic dog feeders with a timer, giving you a high level of control over feeding your pet. You can program it to give them up to four times a day, and each meal can include between one and 39 portions. You can also call your pets for dinner by recording your very own call.
You also don’t have to worry about the device locking thanks to the infrared detection which helps to prevent this from happening. And since it has low power consumption, you won’t have to replace the batteries too often.
Automatically dispense up to four meals per day
Ultra-low power consumption
Infrared sensor stops food dispensing when there is some left in the bowl
- Weight6 pounds
PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Feeder
So much can be controlled from your smartphone these days, so why not add your pet’s mealtimes to the list? As long as you have a compatible phone, you can program as many as 12 meals to be fed to them. You can set the amount of food dispenses in a meal, and you can even choose the slow feeding option to stop your dog becoming bloated. The ‘Feed Now’ option also allows you to feed your pet instantly. You can even receive alerts to give you peace of mind that your furry friend is eating properly!
The design helps to prevent jams and allows you to load in most types of dry and semi-dry pet food. Many of the individual components are easy to clean in the dishwasher.
Controllable from mobile app
Schedule up to 12 meals a day or use ‘Feed Now’ feature
Slim design and pet-proof dispenser
Easy-to-clean individual components
- Weight5.65 pounds
HoneyGuaridan A26 Automatic Pet Feeder Food Dispenser
When you program this timed dog feeder, you can set it to dispense food up to six times a day, and you have a great deal of control of how much food to give. Some of the other technical features of this pet feeder include a built-in voice recorder, infrared detection to prevent food locking, and double power options.
Ultimately, this is a feeder which has been created to allow you to feed your pet a reasonable diet without the worry of them not getting enough to eat.
Infrared detection to stop excessive feeding
Voice recorder to call your pets for meals
Feeding time and amount of food dispensed can be precisely set
- Weight4.3 pounds
Aspen Pet Lebistro Programmable Food Dispenser
Once you have loaded up the hopper of this pet food dispenser with food, it stays fresh thanks to the twist-lid lock. You can set the time of feeding and amount of food dispensed via the LCD screen.
The bowl can be detached when you need to hand wash it or put it in the dishwasher, and when you come to put it back, it will lock into place for added stability. It can be set to serve three meals daily and you can control the portion size.
Easy-to-read LCD screen and programming buttons
Twist-lock lid to keep food fresh and stop your pet from accessing it early
Removable and detachable bowl for easy cleaning and stability
- BrandAspen Pet
- Weight5.16 pounds
PetSafe 2-Meal Automatic Feeder
A simple and affordable solution to your pet feeding needs, this timed dog feeder allows you to set two meals within a 48-hour period. The trays are made of BPA-free plastic and they are also dishwasher safe when you need to clean them.
Not only is this a useful device for portion control, but it also helps you in your quest to establish a regular eating routine for your pets.
Set two meals in 48 hours
Affordable and simple to operate
Dishwasher-proof and made using BPA-free plastic
- Weight1.23 pounds
WOpet 7L Pet Feeder Automatic Pet Feeder
The dual-power function of this automatic pet feeder ensures that if there is a power outage, the batteries will kick in to keep it operating properly. You can set the device to dispense between 2 teaspoons to 4.5 cups during the course of the day.
The removable hygienic feeding tray is dishwasher safe and easy to clean by hand too. The large storage compartment can fit as much as 20 cups of food inside, and it is also easy to remove as required.
Customizable feeding times and portion sizes
Removable feeding tray
Large storage compartment
Record a custom message for your pet
- Weight6 pounds
Old Tjikko Water Feeder for Dogs
While a food dispenser is a useful device to ensure that your dog gets meals on a regular basis, this water dispenser helps to control their fluid intake. It is made of environmentally safe, non-toxic plastic which is important in protecting your pet’s health.
It operates with a simple gravity supply system which does not require you to use any electricity. Not only does this save money, but it also makes the device reliable as well.
Made using sturdy, environmentally safe and non-toxic plastic
Simple gravity supply system
Ensures that your dog always has a supply of fresh water
- BrandOld Tjikko
- Weight2.5 pounds
JEMPET Automatic Pet Feeder Cats Dogs
Both easy to set up and operate, five compartments are included to customize your pet’s usual feeding regime. You can set the feeding time in advance, and the sections are big enough to hold multiple meals over a period of several days. You have two options as to whether you would prefer to connect it directly to the mains or with batteries.
Research has shown that when a pet hears the same thing before every mealtime, they will naturally begin to associate the noise with eating, and the voice capabilities of this automatic pet feeder allow you to set your own recording.
Voice message capability
Easily customizable feeding schedule over a period of days
Two options for power supply
- Weight4.2 pounds
Best Automatic Dog Feeder Buying Guide & FAQ
Features to Look for in the Best Automatic Dog Feeder
Automatic feeders come in all shapes and sizes, so it is worth choosing the one which is going to be best-suited to the needs of your pet. Here are a few points to bear in mind when selecting the number one option for your household.
- Method of Operation
You have two main choices in automatic pet feeders; gravity and electronic feeders. As it suggests in the name, a gravity feeder works by detecting when the feed bowl drops below a certain level and releasing more food from the tank. As for electronic feeders, most are pre-programmable, releasing a determined amount of food at a specific time. This could either be from a central hopper or a carousel format. Both have their pros and cons, which we will discuss a little more later in the article.
How much does your dog need to eat on a regular basis? Are they on a strictly controlled diet? How long are you going to be out of the house when you are unavailable to feed them yourself? These are all questions which are worth answering when you come to selecting which capacity of automatic feeder is best. Look at the minimum and maximum portion capacity, as well as how many individual meals the feeder dispenses and whether it continues to give out more food from the hopper as the bowl empties.
- Type of Food
Most of these automatic dog feeders can be filled up with dry food. But if you usually give your dog wet food, you may only be able to use one of the carousel model feeders which we have discussed above. Again, it all comes back to your dog’s diet and preferences so that you can make an appropriate choice.
- Number of Pets in the Household
Most pets prefer to eat from their own bowl, so if you have multiple dogs or cats, it is likely that you are going to need multiple feeders. You can even get feeders which are programmed to your pet’s microchip or collar, so they will only open up when your four-legged friend is near. This could be the ideal solution if you have a particularly competitive pet in your household who tends to take more than their fair share of the food or one which needs a special type of food.
- Programmable Features
Modern dog feeder come along with a raft of high-tech features. Generally, you can select how many meals a day to give your dog and the size of the portions. Other features include the ability to pause feeding, monitor previous meals, and create temporary feeding regimes. Some will even allow you to record your own dinner calls, so your pooch knows that it is time to eat! The most advanced feeders even allow you to connect to an app and control them remotely.
Automatic Dog Feeder Upsides
There are all sorts of benefits that your automatic dog feeder will provide to your furry friend, yourself, and your entire household. Still not convinced? Check out this list of some of the main upsides.
- Maintain a Regular Feeding Routine
When dogs have regular mealtimes, it helps to keep their metabolism stable and their digestion regular. They will also become used to the routine that you establish for them. But when you live a busy life, it can be difficult to maintain this regularity. Your automatic dog feeder allows you to continue with their feeding regime, regardless of anything which is going on in your own life. If you need to plan ahead and make any changes to the timings or portions, you can do so with ease.
- Control Portion Sizes
Perhaps you have a dog who needs to lose weight, or one who is suffering from a health condition like diabetes which means that portions have to be controlled. An automatic feeder gives you a greater level of control on how much your hound eats on a regular basis.
- Multi-Pet Feeding
When you have a house with multiple pets, it can be a challenge to make sure that each one gets the food which is right for them. If you have a feeder for each one of your pets (particularly one which is electronically linked to them) this assists your ability to give them the amount and type of food which they need.
- Ease and Convenience
Gravity food dispensers allow you to put a lot of food inside, so you don’t have to keep going back to refill it over and over again. Programmable dispensers afford you the ease and convenience of not having to be in the house to feed your dog at pre-determined times of the day. And they are generally mess-free so you don’t have to worry about constantly cleaning up after your pup.
- Feel Comfortable Leaving Your Pet Alone
It can feel sad and strange to leave your pet all by themselves, but modern life makes this a necessity from time to time. With an automatic dog feeder, this takes the worry out of making sure that they have enough food while you are away. Some of these feeders are even programmable over a period of days, so you can even go away on a short holiday safe in the knowledge that the feeder will take care of one of their essential needs.
Automatic Dog Feeder Downsides
While there are a lot of advantages in automatic dog feeders, there are a few downsides which are worth discussing so that you can make a fully informed decision.
- Gravity Dispensers Don’t Control Portions
While programmable feeders are good for portion control, gravity dispensers are not. If you have a dog who suffers from an overeating problem, they can keep eating and more food will be automatically dispensed which can end up contributing more to the issue. However, some of the more advanced feeders get around this issue with infrared detection which only dispenses food when the bowl is empty.
- Possible Malfunctioning
Just like any other electronic system, there is a chance that the feeder ends up malfunctioning. This could mean that your furry friend is left without food for a while, which may not be an issue if you are only out of the house for a short amount of time but becomes more of a problem if they are left alone for an extended period. For peace of mind, it is worth asking someone to come in to check up on them while you are away.
- Lessened Bond with Your Pet
While it is easy and convenient to feed your pet using an automatic feeder, it doesn’t mean that you should rely on it all the time. Mealtime is a bonding experience between you and your dog, which helps to forge a link between the two of you. So, you should aim to use your automatic feeder as an assistant to your dog’s mealtime rather than handing over responsibility totally.
Types of Automatic Pet Feeder
There are two main types of automatic pet feeder available, which we will discuss below, along with some of the pros and cons of each.
- Gravity-based Feeders
As the name suggests, these feeders rely on gravity. The design is simple, with food flowing from the chute into the bowl when your pet eats a certain amount of food. When the bowl is full up, the flowing tube will remain blocked and no more food can be dispensed. On the plus side, they don’t require any complicated setup or programming, the operation is reliable as there are no electronics or power sources involved, and they also tend to be the more affordable option. On the downside, pets have continuous access to their food which is not good for overeaters, and you cannot control the device to dispense food at certain times.
- Electronic Automatic Feeders
Electronic feeders allow you to choose the time you want to feed your pet and the portion size you want to give them. Generally, they have an LED screen which allows you to do the programming. Many also give you the option of recording your own mealtime alarm. The latest ones use smart technologies to connect them up with your phone. Since you have greater control, they are very convenient and can be used to restrict portions and fight against obesity and bloating. On the downside, they tend to be more expensive, require a power source, and sometimes suffer from connection errors or malfunctioning, which could lead to missed meals.
Best Automatic Dog Feeder FAQ:
Q: What is an automatic dog feeder and how does it work?
A: Automatic dog feeders come in all shapes and sizes, but essentially, they are devices which help you to feed your dog on a regular basis when you are absent. The simplest are gravity feeders which dispense food from a hopper into your dog’s bowl when it is starting to empty. The more complex programmable devices allow you to choose when the meals are accessible from sealed compartments. Some are built with high-tech smart features and even webcams!
Q: How do I set an automatic dog feeder?
A: Each automatic dog feeder is set up in a different way, so you should check the instructions for specific startup advice. Gravity dispensers tend to be the easiest to set up as they don’t need to be plugged in or programmed in any way. As for the electronic devices, you will either need to plug them into a socket or they will be battery-operated. First, fill the device with food. Most have a screen which you can then program to open when needed. It is worth testing that it works before relying on it to feed your dog for the first time.
Q: How many times a day should I feed my dog?
A: Many experts agree that feeding your dog twice a day is normal – once in the morning and once in the afternoon. However, this often varies depending on the type of dog, their age, and any pre-existing medical conditions. For example, if you have puppies under five months old, they often need feeding three or four times a day. Schedule a consultation with your vet if you are ever feeling unsure. Having regular mealtimes will help to establish a routine, and also makes it easier to determine if your dog experiences any sudden changes in appetite which could indicate an underlying health condition. An automatic feeder helps you to keep to this regular routine.
Our Top Pick
PetSafe 5-Meal Pet Feeder
Number one on our list of dog food dispensers is this one from PetSafe. Whether you are at home or away, you can easily feed your pet as many as four pre-portioned meals with this feeder. Its built-in digital clock and LCD display allow you to decide when it is time for your dog to eat for a period of up to four days. This helps them to stay on a regular eating schedule for weight loss or simple portion control.
When you need to clean the device, you can simply remove the carousel and put it in the dishwasher or wash it by hand. There is a manual advance button if you want to immediately dispense the next meal, and a suspend feeding button to stop it without losing the pre-set feeding times.
For all these reasons, it is our top pick of the best automatic dog feeders currently on the market.