Best automatic dog feeders 2022: Easy dog food dispensers for your BFF | Mashable

2022-07-15 23:40:21 By : Mr. Richard Xu

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 — especially when your pup’s dog bowl is empty and their tummy is rumbling. 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 with the help of an automatic feeder.

Eating at the same time every day is healthy for your dog. It allows them to feel taken care of and secure, making the separation from you a little easier. Regular schedules also help prevent pet obesity because it allows you to control their caloric and nutritional intake every day.

Most dogs need to eat at least twice a day, but some dogs have medical issues or special dietary needs — and if you’re late feeding them, it can affect their health.

Regular feeding schedules 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 dog feeders come in handy. They will allow you to set up a routine that keeps your dog fed at the same time every day — regardless of whether you’re home or not to give them their favorite dry food.

Plus, some dog feeders allow for portion control, so you can decide exactly how much or how little pet food gets dispensed, whether you have a little dog or a large dog with a big appetite. If your dog tends to eat too quickly, you can also program a smart auto feeder to dispense food in small increments over a period of time to make sure they don’t gobble down their meal too quickly.

There are four main types of automatic dog feeders: gravity feeders, programmable models that release a set amount of food at a set time, plate feeders, and smart feeders 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 pup eats so their dog bowl is never empty. This is essentially a recipe for keeping your dog overfed, which isn't great for your pup's health because it can lead to obesity and other health issues.

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. Smart feeders give you full remote control, allowing you to set feeding times, amounts, and more through a smartphone app. You can even dispense pet food if you’re running late and forgot to schedule the feeder before you left the house.

It depends on what kind of automatic dog feeder you’re using. Most pet feeders can dispense dry kibble and round or small-ish treats with no issue.

However, programmable plate feeders can also serve wet food to your pup because they have lids that seal the plate of food until feeding time. You’ll have to remember to fill these plate feeders each morning before you leave the house though.

Chances are, if your dog is food motivated, training them to use an automatic feeder shouldn’t be too difficult. In fact, the sound of the feeder dispensing food might be music to their ears, waking them from a dead sleep to run over for their dinner.

But if your pup is fearful of loud or unfamiliar noises, as some shelter dogs tend to be, you might need to desensitize them to the feeder over a period of time.

A good way to do this: feed them in their regular dog bowl, but put the automatic pet feeder right next to the bowl. This will get them used to seeing it.

Then, once the presence of the food dispenser no longer bothers them, program it to just dispense their favorite treat around the same time as mealtime while you’re around. This will help them get used to the meal while you’re home and realize that good things — aka treats — come from it.

Eventually, remove their old bowl and just feed them from the automatic feeder, even when you’re around.

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? Do you have multiple dogs to feed? Is your dog a large breed? And does your dog prefer dry dog food or wet food (or both)? The answers to these questions will all impact which automatic dog feeder is best for you and your pup.

For example, if your dog won’t touch dry food, then you’re better off with a plate feeder because it can seal off and keep wet food fresh. But if your dog is all about the kibble, a programmable might be better. Smart feeders that can be controlled through apps, meanwhile, are great if you tend to forget to do things (like program a feeder) in the morning or if your schedule is unpredictable.

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 your 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 dog's food, like the PetSafe EatWell 5-Meal Automatic Pet Feeder.(opens in a new tab)

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 for 2022 below.

Though originally designed for cats, this automatic pet feeder works just as well for dogs, especially since it is available in two size capacities: 4 liters and 6 liters. This means it can hold enough dry food to keep your pet fed for a couple of days if necessary without you needing to refill the food container. Plus, it comes with a desiccant bag to keep the food inside it fresh — a real perk for pets who get picky about their food going stale.

The feeder also has two power supplies: 5V DC adapter and 3 D-Cell batteries, which means that you don’t have to worry about power outages preventing your pup from getting to their meals either. The automatic feeder also has a setting memory too so it won’t forget what you programmed it to do.

The PETLIBRO automatic feeder allows you to program one to four meals a day for up to 9 portions and thanks to its LCD screen, it’s pretty easy to program. The feeder also has a FEED button in case you want to give your pet an extra feeding. 

Both the food tank and the pet food tray are also removable, so you can easily clean them and keep your pet safe. Plus, the automatic pet feeder comes with a voice recorder capable of recording 10-second voice clips. This means you can easily record yourself calling your pet for dinner — like you would if you were home. 

Whether it’s because you work during the day, your pup is on a strict medical feeding schedule, or because you’re not so great at remembering feeding time, this easy-to-use automatic dog feeder might be exactly the pet feeder you’re looking for. 

With a built-in digital clock and timer, the PetSafe EatWell 5-Meal Automatic Pet Feeder is BPA-free, reliable, and durable. All you have to do is fill it with food each morning, program it using its user-friendly interface, then voila — your feeder is set to feed your dog perfectly portioned meals up to four times a day. 

The automatic feeder has five triangular slots that hold up to one full cup of kibble — ideal if you have a small to medium-sized dog that you don’t want overeating throughout the day. However, this portion size is likely too small for a larger breed. It could, however, work for cats. 

Since there are five slots, it can dispense food five times over a few days, but it's worth noting that it will only keep wet food fresh after 24 hours. As a result, this dog feeder works best if you fill and program it each day unless you plan to use it for dry food only. 

One of the biggest perks of this feeder, though, is that it has a feeding tray that comes out for easy washing in the dishwasher. The programmable feeder requires D-batteries (which are not included) but should run for 12 months without needing a battery replacement. 

Some dogs love food so much that they gobble it up in barely the blink of an eye. While this might sound adorable — after all, most things dogs do are adorable — eating too quickly can actually be very dangerous for dogs. Not only can they choke on their food or get stomach pain, but it also increases the risk of a serious — sometimes deadly — medical condition called Bloat (or gastric dilatation-volvulus, to be precise), which causes the stomach to expand and even twist in the abdomen due to excessive amounts of air. 

So as a pet owner, it’s really important to figure out how to slow down your dog down when they are eating too fast — and this automatic dog feeder makes that much easier to do. This automatic pet feeder has a “slow feed” mode that dispenses meals through its conveyor belt feeding dispenser over 15 minutes, forcing dogs to slow down.

In addition, this feeder allows you to set portion sizes, set a consistent routine, and even pause that routine without losing everything you’ve programmed. This dog feeder also has a really big capacity, allowing you to store 24 cups of dog kibble inside the tank to feed over a series of days. You can schedule the feeder to dispense up to 12 meals per day too. 

The canister is also pet-proof, so you don’t have to worry about your dog (or cat, since this feeder could work for cats too) from sneaking a paw in to help themselves to extra kibble. Best of all, this BPA-free plastic feeder is easy to clean, thanks to the fact that its plastic parts and stainless steel bowl are both top-rack dishwasher safe. You will have to hand-wash the conveyor system, though. 

If you’re looking for an automatic pet feeder that will truly keep wet food fresh, this is feeder you’ll likely want. It’s got five food compartments that hold up to 11.5 ounces of wet food, plus two ice packs to keep that food actually cold and fresh so that your pet isn’t eating food that’s begun to spoil. 

The Cat Mate Automatic Digital Pet Feeder is easy to program the time, thanks to a built-in LCD screen so your pets can eat at precise times. It’s also got a close-fitting, tamper-proof lid to keep even the most determined cats and dogs from getting their paws on an early feeding time. 

The automatic feeder also takes 3 AA-batteries, which are easier to find than D batteries — the type of battery used by other feeders on this list — and generally those batteries will last up to 12 months with this feeder. The bowls in the feeder are also removable for easier cleaning in the dishwasher. 

The only significant drawback to this feeder is that it works best for small dogs or cats — you’ll likely want something with bigger portions than 1.45 cups if you have a large breed dog.

Okay, so this isn’t really an automatic dog feeder, but it is a treat-feeder capable of holding up to 1.5 pounds of treats, and we think that counts. 

The PetCube Bites 2 is an easy-to-set-up treat-dispensing smart camera that lets you interact with your pooch while you're away from home — ideal for folks who are headed back to in-person work soon. (It's also one of our top picks for the best pet cameras.) The HD camera allows you to see your dog in 1080p video, day or night. It also has a super wide 160-degree wide view, so when placed strategically, you can see an entire room. The two-way audio allows you to hear your pet and talk to them, so you can give Fido a little verbal encouragement throughout the day.

This smart treat dispenser has a built-in Alexa assistant too, so it can play calming dog music, answer questions, control other smart home devices, and even order treats when the dispenser is running low. Toss treats at three different distances to get your dog moving throughout the day, and get a smartphone notification if there are any sound or motion disturbances in your home. You'll also be able to access 24/7 video history for the last 90 days of use, and — if something is up with your pup — use the live chat feature to talk to a vet.

When your dog's preferred breakfast time and your preferred wake-up time are different, a smart, automatic feeder with a timer can keep your pup occupied until you're ready to get out of bed. The PetSafe Smart Feed is great for this and for those days when you're out of the house at lunch or dinner. It connects to the Smart Feed app, which you can use to monitor food levels, customize timers and portion sizes, and even reorder food using Amazon Dash Replenishment. It's also Alexa-enabled so you can control it hands-free. 

Unlike most other auto-feeders, this one works for all sized dogs and cats, since it can dispense anywhere from 1/8 cup to four cups of food at a time. You also have the option to purchase a two-meal splitter (sold separately) to feed up to two pets simultaneously, making this automatic pet feeder ideal for multi-pet families. 

The lid, hopper, bowl, and bowl feeder of this automatic dog feeder are also top-rack dishwasher safe, so you can easily clean them when you need to. The automatic feeder allows you to easily schedule up to 12 meals daily in different portion sizes, ranging from ⅛ cup to 4 cups depending on your pet’s needs. If your dog has a tendency too eat too quickly, you can also slow them down by using the slow feed function, which dispenses food in small amounts over 15 minutes. 

When there are multiple pets in a household, it's almost guaranteed that they'll try to snatch each other's food. Keep your cat out of your dog's bowl (or vice-versa) with the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder. It works using your pet's microchip and will only open to the designated pet — so food stealing is a no-go.

The automatic pet feeder has a built-in scale and LED lights that help you get exact portion sizes, within one gram of accuracy. It's great for pups on prescription diets, and holds up to 13.5 ounces of wet or dry food. The food can stay fresh for hours, too, since the lid forms a tight seal with the neoprene lip. It requires a hub (sold separately) to access the smartphone app, but once downloaded, you'll have tons of smart features at your fingertips. Check to see when your dog was last fed to avoid double feeding, get notifications on how much was eaten at each meal, and more. It's a great tool to monitor health and eating habits, since all the data is sent directly to your phone.

One of the downsides, though, is that due to the design, this bowl will only work for small dogs — medium and large dogs will likely have a hard time getting their head under the arch to eat.