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There are a few basic needs for any pet dog. A loving home, a secure place to sleep, plenty of attention and a healthy, regulated diet are all high on the list.
The latter can be difficult in some households where owners work for long periods, or have to leave the dog alone for other reasons.
These disruptions can be problematic for a precise, regular feeding routine. This is why many dog owners now turn to automated devices to ensure that dogs get the right amount of food at the right time.
The question is, which is the best automatic dog feeder for your home?
In this guide we will look at some of the important considerations for buying an electronic dog feeder, as well as some of the best models that are available.
We will break the guide down by a different feature or buying concern. These include the capacity of the device, the basic programming available, app-controls, video and audio features and other design elements. For each factor, there will be one or two related products that illustrate the point more clearly.
By the end, you should have a better idea of the right type of machine for your needs.
Before all that, let’s take a closer look at the purpose of these systems, and their pros and cons.
Before we go deeper into the comparisons and explanations for these automatic dog food systems, it is important to remember that there are two main types of dog feeders out there. There are these automated, electronic models and there are gravity pet feeders.
A great example of a gravity feeder is the Petmate Pet Cafe Feeder 12 lbs system.
There is a lot to love here in the look and design, as it offers a simple, easy-to-use device with that functional gravity method. This allows for a steady supply of food in the dish.
Added benefits here are the large food storage hopper, the extra-wide mouth and the removable lid for cleaning and refilling the device.
This is great as a non-automated model. However, many pet owners prefer automatic products instead.Buy On Amazon
There are many benefits in choosing an automatic model over something without any electronic function.
These machines provide greater control and a whole host of methods and features.
As you will see below, there are some that are fairly basic with their programming and design for improved ease of use. Then there are others with more complex specifications, such as app-controls, video and audio features and other bonuses.
The problem with this approach is that while it should offer greater peace of mind, there are still considerations and concerns for some owners. This method is better for portion control and, in some cases, communication.
However, this is only true as long as these devices are connected to the power and wireless networks for a reliable performance. This means checking the batteries, maintaining a wi-fi connection and staying up to date with apps. There are also concerns over malfunctions with electronic devices that may disrupt the schedule. As you will see, there are some products that try and avoid these issues.
There are pros and cons here, but many pet owners would argue that there are far more pros than there are cons. There is a lot to consider, but also many well-designed products that can help.
Let’s look at some of the main considerations for buying one of these automatic dispensers, and some of the best examples that illustrate these points.
This is a great place to start when deciding on the best device because the eating habits of the dog will influence your options.
Those that want an automated wet food dispenser need one with a tray with automated lids. These lids open in turn to reveal designated portions. This may limit choices in terms of designs, brands and features. Yet, it means that the option is there for fussy dogs or those with dietary restrictions.
A great example of this type of wet food dispenser is the TD Design Automatic Pet Feeder for Dogs & Cats.
In fact, this is designed for use with both dry and wet food. There are 5 different compartments on board, which equates to 5 x 240 ml.
This segmented system allows for portion control and a choice of food. Some will even use a tray for treats and medication.
Buyers will appreciate the easy-to-read display and simple control panel. There is also the fact that this model has a removable cover for easy cleaning.Buy On Amazon
This is a major consideration from the start.
There are dispensers available in all different sizes. Some are compact with a couple of helping in one hopper, or those small trays for wet food. These models are fine for small breeds and cats, but won’t be enough for a large dog on a diet of large portions.
This is where it pays to double check the capacity of the model and if a desired system comes in anything smaller or larger. You should find that many brands do offer a range of capacities to broaden their appeal.
Starting with a model at the smaller end of the scale, we have the Petmate Pet Cafe Feeder.
This model may have an extra-wide mouth, for ease of eating, but it can go at small as 3 lbs in capacity. This is a simplistic option for small animals, but there are also some nice details. These include the removable lid for cleaning and refilling, the grab handles on the base and the pleasing designs. Should 3 lbs seem too small, there are many alternatives.Buy On Amazon
On the other end of the scale we have the Little Giant Galvanized Steel Chow Hound Dog Feeder.
This is massive in comparison, with the 25 Lb capacity, and heavy duty. It has a 24 gauge galvanized steel construction on the body and the “specially-angled” shoot.
Another nice detail here is that is is designed to hang on a wall or frame, freeing up space and adding a little convenience.Buy On Amazon
The programs and settings will make or break one of these devices much faster than any issue with the capacity or design.
There is no point having a good-looking, high-capacity machine if it doesn’t provide the right schedule. It is important to check the number of portions that are available in one day, and the adjustability of the timings for different days and unforeseen circumstances.
If the device can provide the right portion sizes at the right time, it also has to be easy enough to use for a consistent performance. Can you punch in a schedule for a week and leave it alone? What happens in a power cut? Is the process, or the related manual, just too complicated?
As we saw above, there are two methods of automated delivery.
The Qpets Automatic Pet Feeder is a tiny little device with 6 compartments for use with with either dry or wet food. The easy-to-follow schedule allows for up to 6 portions within a 24 hour period, and can be amended as needed. This provides great variability than many other devices that are on the market.Buy On Amazon
Then there is the more typical looking Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder Food Dispenser for Dogs & Cats.
This machine also provides convenient portion control, with between 1-10 portions of 24 ml over 4 distributions. It sounds complex, but again it offers adaptability.
The added benefit here is that this model has extra programming and alerts. There is also a blue LCD clock display.Buy On Amazon
The issues of programming and ease of use so far relate to the buttons and settings on the physical device. The best models provide intuitive controls, display and schedules.
There are many devices out there that now include this sort of app-control with iOS and Android. However, be aware that many only support a 2.4GHz wi-fi network.
The first option to consider here is the HoneyGuaridan A26 Automatic Pet Feeder with Voice Recorder and Timer Programmable.
To be fair, there are many different devices that use this mobile tech to their advantage. This one is included in the list for its functionality and look. This promises accurate feeding for both cats and dogs, with a schedule of up to 6 meals a day.
As for the look, it just happens to look like a cool robot instead of some of the boring boxes that are around.Buy On Amazon
Then there is the WOpet Automatic Pet Feeder for Dog or Cats. The function is similar. Yet, it is one of the few that points out compatibility issues that many users may come up against.
This one is compatible with IOS systems 7.5 and above, or Android 4.0 and above. The app itself, on the right system, is easy to set up and use with increased convenience for many users.Buy On Amazon
Video streams from cameras in the device, to the screen of a mobile or tablet, provide even greater peace of mind.
This could be problematic in some work environments, but it could also create a wonderful new office reality tv show as everyone becomes invested in the life of your pet.
One of the best examples of these video enabled devices is the GemPet Petwant SmartFeeder Automatic Food Dispenser for Dogs & Cats.
Like the two models above, and a few below, this is easily controlled by either an IPhone, Android or similar smart device with easy video streaming.
The promise here is that users have the chance to “watch your pet every moment that you want”. This takes as back to that potential problem of productivity in the workplace. Yet, this instant stream provides great peace of mind.
There is the added benefit of the high resolution of the 1000000 pixel camera for a clear stream of images.Buy On Amazon
This idea of having a conference call with a pet in the middle of the day is appealing to many cautious owners. However, this tech is not a guarantee on many models.
In some cases, there may be real-time audio via an app and microphone. Many others rely on pre-recorded messages. Both options are helpful when training animals to get used to the new device and ensure that they do come and get fed.
There are two models to mention here that offer this skill.
The first is the ICOCO 5.5L Automatic Pet Feeder with Voice Message Recording.
This voice recording software is one of the main highlights with this model. Here owners can play message as needed to correspond with the schedule programmed into the device.
It can dispense portions from 1/4 cup to 3 cups, at 3 selected meal times per day everyday.Buy On Amazon
An alternative comes from the OxGord Automatic Electronic Timer Programmable Dog Feeder, which again has a built-in voice recorder and is designed for all sizes of dog.
Again there is the chance to coordinate this with the schedule of up to three meals a day in this 45 cup capacity machine.
Added bonus features include the pet-proof lock and easy-read LCD display.Buy On Amazon
These app-controls and mobile functions can prove to be pretty useful for any dog owner that is away from home and want a greater sense of control over what is happening while they are away.
At the moment, there aren’t too many devices that have this potential. With time, more and more major designers are sure to update their system to provide the best possible connectivity with Alexa and a whole host of other smart hubs for the home.
At the moment, the best bet for this feature is to stick with the Petnet SmartFeeder, Automatic Pet Feeder for Cats and Dogs.
This is an updated model for 2017 that has some important changes to the tech and now works with the Amazon Alexa SmartFeeder Skill.
Users can now enjoy improved connectivity here, and with the designated Petnet app.
The app lets you personalize food portions and receive notifications on meals, low food and deliveries.
Other new features include the smart feeder ramp for a smoother feeding process, and the improved feeding wheel.Buy On Amazon
For the most part, the main selling points with all of these machines is the functionality and practical nature.
How does it dispense the food? What settings are available? Does it have wi-fi connectivity? Therefore, the look of the device often takes a back seat when it comes to priorities.
Still, there are designers that want to create something a little nicer than a big plastic box with a few buttons and control. A lot of the cheaper devices are ugly. Some, like the Lusmo model above provide softer lines and color. You have to remember that this is going to be sat out on the floor of the home on a permanent basis.
Some dog owners will prefer the look of the Aspen Pet Lebistro Programmable Food Dispenser.
This is a good example of what designers can achieve with these devices when they take the time to consider the style.
Here there is a nice shape, with the balance of a clear food dispenser against the sleek, curved black design. There is also a minimal approach with the controls and a fairly large feeding area. Where some look like white plastic boxes, this machine wouldn’t look out of place in a contemporary kitchen.Buy On Amazon
These dog food dispensing units either look surprisingly stylish or pretty ugly.
However, no fancy design will be worth all that much without the function of the programs above, and the reliability of a strong, safe structure.
There are some smart dogs that figure some designs out, but many are secure. Then there is the security against water and other problems.
The Pet Feedster USA PF-10 DOG Pet Feedster is a great example of a automated pet feeder with a secure design.
This promised to be both Jam Proof & Ant Proof thanks to the design of the patented, adjustable FlexFeeder.
In addition to this, there is the fact that the food storage area is protected by a water tray at the bottom. The idea here is that ants and other pests will drown trying to get in. It is something that few others consider.
Then there is the Lusmo Automatic Pet Feeder which uses what the designers call the “mischief guard” in order to prevent dogs from reaching in and scraping out extra food.
Also, all components are removable and washable to keep it clean from pests, mould and germs.Buy On Amazon
Most pet owners would agree that it is the feature list that makes the biggest impression when choosing the right model for the home.
That is why we have focused so heavily on the programming and controls on offer in these devices.
A well-known brand could be enough to swing the decision for anyone struggling to tell the different between key models on online retailer sites.
It is true that some models do look very similar, with similar results. Yet, there is more trust in known names and greater expectation that they will deliver.
One great example of this is PetSafe. PetSafe are highly respected by many dog owners and vets for the quality and range of their products. Therefore, a PetSafe Automatic Pet Feeder may prove to be a popular choice in these households.
Once such model is the PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder. This is a fairly simple device compared to those with app-controls. However, it is programmable for up to 12 meals and offers great portion control.
There is also the benefit of the anti-jam system, slow feed mode and pet-proof design.
It doesn’t look like much, but there is a sense of reliability and familiarity with this big black box.Buy On Amazon
It is clear that the best models of dog food dispensers are often the ones that find the middle ground, that spot between features and
functionality and ease of use.
Many dog owners are turning away from the simplistic gravity dispensers out of a need for better programming and control.
However, there are issues with some of the most “clever” devices. Devices that connect to mobile tech and home hubs are beneficial in theory, and have great potential. Yet,there are connectivity issues and things can get a little complicated.
On the other hand, some of the basic models with automated lids and chutes may not go far enough. Owners tend to like the models with the timers, alarms and voice recording software. The good news is that there are clearly plenty of choices for all kinds of dog owners.
The ideal way to choose the best automatic dog feeder for your home is to create a list of priority features and better understand the
functions on offer.
This guide has hopefully provided a clear check list of features and considerations to keep in mind. This should help you to narrow down your choice a little better.
Once you have a better idea of the type of device you need, the level of programming and capacity, you can start to browse your option. Take the time to compare the specifications of different brands and their user reviews.
As you can see, some brands are more well known, while others may have a unique selling point. With some time and careful thought, you are sure to find precisely the right model for your needs.
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