Between work, errands, dogs, and the daily chaos of life, most of us stay pretty busy.
My name is Michelle Ropp, and with two beagles at home and an unending supply of projects, I keep pretty busy, too.
In the whirlwind of things, it can be hard to put dinner out for the dogs on time every day. Joey and Gunther, like most dogs, are not fans of getting dinner late.
Thankfully, automatic pet feeders are an easy and affordable option.
Automatic pet feeders are a great option for the weekend and for the graveyard-shift, too.
If you need a few more minutes of sleep, but your dog is begging for breakfast… an automatic pet feeder could come to your rescue.
With an automatic pet feeder, your dog will get breakfast (and every other meal) exactly when they hope to and will probably let you sleep just a little while longer.
Whether you’re struggling through rush hour during your daily commute, out of town on business or for fun, or catching up on errands, you can still make sure your dog gets fed on time with an automatic pet feeder.
It’s one less thing for you to stress over, plus your pup won’t bite into your favorite shoes in hungry frustration.
Why Choose an Automatic Pet Feeder?
Automatic pet feeders are convenient for you and for your dog. For you, it means one less thing to worry about.
It means you don’t have to watch the clock when you get home or rush back from work while you worry about making your pet wait for food.
It means not worrying so much about the pet sitter forgetting to feed your beloved dog while you’re out of town, and it means that you have more time and more energy for work and play.
Automatic pet feeders aren’t just convenient for humans, either. They’re great for dogs and take the mystery out of dinner time.
With a regular, routine amount of food at the same time every day, your dog will be less likely to take their stress out on your belongings.
They’ll rest easy knowing that whether you are home relaxing with them or on a mad dash to the store for those eggs you forgot, they’ll still get fed exactly when they expect to.
How Does an Automatic Pet Feeder Work?
Automatic pet feeders come in all shapes and sizes. Some are high-tech, while others are quite simple.
All of them have a hopper for holding plenty of food for future meals, and this dispenses into a bowl at the bottom.
The hoppers for the food can hold anywhere from one to twenty pounds of dry food (some will also work with moist food), depending on what type of feeder you have.
Some automatic pet feeders work on the simple principles of physics (gravity feeders) without any power source required.
Others dispense customized, measured amounts at exactly the time you choose (timer-based feeders and smart feeders).
The latter uses a small amount of power, but it offers more options such as how often to feed, how much to feed, and how fast to feed your dog.
Automatic Pet Feeders Are a Breeze to Use
Though automatic pet feeders may sound complicated, they’re usually quite simple. Food for future meals goes into the large section (hopper). Whenever it is empty just fill it up again.
If you have a gravity pet feeder that’s pretty much all there is to it.
If you have a programmable pet feeder you can program the timer to provide meals at certain times of the day, or you may be able to link the feeder to your phone for more options, depending on the model.
Most automatic pet feeders come with instructions and can be set up in just a couple short minutes, though.
If you are looking for great dog food for your dog check out this article on our best affordable dog foods
What Are the Different Kinds of Automatic Pet Feeders?
I’ve already mentioned them here, but there are a couple different kinds of automatic pet feeders. In general, they tend to fall under the categories of gravity feeders, timer-based feeders, and smart feeders.
Gravity feeders are beautifully simple. The hopper of excess food is suspended upside-down and dispenses into a bowl in the bottom. As the food in the bowl is eaten, fresh food trickles down to take its place.
The bowl stays full as long as there is food in the hopper to fill it. There are no timers involved and no programming needed.
The only downside to gravity feeders is that because the bowl will always be full, it works best for dogs who only eat what they need to.
Our beagles can be pretty insatiable, so if your dog tends to gorge themselves on food, this might not be the best type of automatic feeder for you.
Timer-based feeders take a little bit more time to set up, but they are still pretty simple. Like with gravity feeders, food for the future goes into a hopper.
Unlike gravity feeders, the bowl is not automatically refilled as it is emptied. Instead, at a programmed time, food will be dispensed.
These are excellent options for dogs who will eat their way through a bag of food given the opportunity. They make sure dinner is in the dog bowl on time and in a pre-portioned amount.
Smart feeders are the pinnacle of streamlined automatic pet feeders. They offer a range of features depending on the type you get.
Some of them connect to your phone so that you can feed your dog on demand at the press of a button. Many of them have timers that you can enable when needed, too.
Some even have microphones or cameras so that you can call your dog over and tell them how good they are when they find their dinner ready and waiting.
Choosing the Best Automatic Pet Feeders…
There are a lot of automatic pet feeders out there, and choosing one can seem like a daunting task. To pick which one best suits your needs, you’ll have to take a few things into consideration.
Different automatic pet feeders hold different amounts of food. Some hold enough for just a few meals while others hold enough to feed Fido for over a week.
The hopper size is worth taking note of while you’re considering feeders. The bigger the hopper size, the more food it can store for the future.
Your schedule is also something to consider while you’re looking at automatic pet feeders. If you’re out of town often, some pet feeders come with cameras and microphones.
This lets you call your dog over for dinner, but it also lets you see how they are doing and talk to them, which could be a huge bonus if you’re missing them and want to make sure the pet sitter is giving them plenty of love.
If you are busy and find yourself run ragged all day long between work and errands and everything else, a pet feeder with a bigger hopper might be worth investing in.
A bigger hopper means it has to be refilled less often, which buys you a little extra time for whatever you need.
Another thing to keep in mind is the size of your dog and what kind of food they eat. If you have a small dog, you may not need a twenty-pound hopper and a gallon-size bowl.
On the other hand, if you have a big dog, you’ll want to make sure they have room in the bowl for the food they need.
Most automatic pet feeders are designed to be used with dry food, but if you use semi-moist dog food don’t despair: a few of them will still work with your food.
You’ll have to be diligent when picking out a feeder if that is the case, though, to make sure your choice will work with your dog’s food.
Automatic pet feeders come in different shapes and sizes, with different settings. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the ones you’re considering before you decide whether they suit your needs and your dog’s needs.
Keep an Eye Out for Extra Features
I mentioned it briefly before, but some feeders have extra features that are worth noting. Some come with cameras or microphones installed.
Others are made from antibiotic materials so that they require less frequent cleaning (and help protect your pet).
Some automatic feeders are dishwasher safe—while other components like timers and computerized portions must be kept far away from any water.
Another feature that many automatic pet feeders have is an infrared sensor. This is a great feature which puts new meals on pause when the bowl is still full.
This helps prevent messes, overflow, blockage, and prevents food from being wasted.
Top 10 Automatic Pet Feeders
#1 PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder
Don’t be fooled by the price-tag for this automatic pet feeder—it’s worth saving up for.
This automatic pet feeder can be controlled using your smartphone from anywhere (either iPhone or Android), and you can program multiple meals depending on your needs.
Not only can you program meals to dispense at a specific time, you can also feed your dog on demand at the click of a button. Just hit “Feed Now” an extra meal will be dispensed right then.
The portion size for meals is completely customizable anywhere from 1/8 cup to 4 cups.
Not only that, but one of the options available is “Slow Feed” which gradually dispenses the food bit by bit over fifteen minutes.
This is great for dogs who eat too fast, forget to chew, or just have sensitive stomachs.
If your phone goes offline, you don’t have to worry. In case the Wi-Fi connection is broken, the feeder will continue dispensing at the times that it was scheduled to.
The dispenser is pet-proof, so don’t worry about your dog helping themselves to a seemingly endless supply of food.
Most of the feeder is dishwasher-safe, as well, and BPA-free. The feeder holds up to 24 cups of dry or semi-moist food for future use.
#2 Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder
This automatic pet feeder is petite and perfect for small dogs.
You can customize portions anywhere from a tenth of a cup to one cup of food per meal and can program up to four meals daily.
The lid locks magnetically to guard against prying paws, and you can either run this feeder on batteries (D batteries) or a power cable.
A nice perk to this specific automatic pet feeder is that you can record a personalized meal call up to ten seconds long.
The Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder is simple but streamlined and holds up to 1.14 gallons of dry food in the hopper for future meals.
#3 Amazon Basics Self-Dispensing Gravity Pet Feeder and Waterer
This duo may be simple, but they are effective and come in a convenient two-in-one package.
For the low price, you get an automatic water bowl and an automatic (gravity) dog feeder.
These are handwash only, but the mouth of the hoppers are extra-wide for easy cleaning and filling.
These simple but effective gravity feeders come with a one-year warranty and hold up to 2.5 gallons (or 12 pounds of dry dog food).
If you are looking for something affordable, without the hassle of programming anything, these are as easy as they come.
They also come in a small or large size, so whether you have a Great Dane or a Chihuahua, your pup will have a constant supply of fresh food.
#4 PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed
Although a little lower tech, this PetSafe automatic feeder comes with a lot of the perks of its higher priced, smarter version.
Meals can be customized in size anywhere from 1/8 cup to 4 cups. The bowl holds up to five cups of food, and you can program up to 12 meals per day.
You can manually feed anytime as well, and this automatic feeder comes with an option to temporarily stop automatic feeding (without losing all of the programming you spent time setting up).
Like the PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder, this feeder has the option to slowly dispense food over a period of fifteen minutes.
It dispenses dry or semi-moist food, has a pet-proof dispenser, and most of the feeder is dishwasher-safe and made without BPA.
This automatic feeder runs on batteries and can be placed anywhere.
#5 PetSafe 5-Meal Pet Feeder
This feeder is small and simple, but there is something beautiful in that.
It holds just five meals of dry or semi-moist food, which you can portion to your liking, and a timer-controlled carousel gives your pet access to their next meal at the times you choose.
The five meals can be a great way to provide multiple small meals as the day progresses, for pets who eat too fast or need to be fed gradually.
This automatic pet feeder is BPA-free and battery powered, and the carousel tray for the food is dishwasher safe.
#6 WESTLINK 6L Automatic Pet Feeder
This feeder holds up to six liters of food in its hopper and provides your dog with custom-sized dry-food meals between a couple teaspoons and a couple of cups.
It comes with a voice recorder built into it for mealtime messages to your pets, and it has an infrared detection feature which senses when food is already in the bowl so that it doesn’t keep dispensing when food isn’t eaten.
This feeder runs on batteries or USB power, and the bowl can be removed easily to clean as needed.
#7 Petnet SmartFeeder (2nd Generation)
If you have Alexa, Google Assistant, a Nest Cam, or a smartphone (Android or iPhone) you can control this automatic pet feeder hassle-free.
Food can be dispensed using voice commands, and this smart feeder will even give you pictures of your pet eating and tell you when the last time they ate was.
The feeder comes with a Petnet App, which will recommend meal portions based on your dog’s breed, weight, age, and activity level.
It also provides you with alerts when your dog has eaten and when the food in the hopper is running low.
The lid on the hopper is self-locking and pet-proof, and the metal food bowl is dishwasher-safe.
It comes with a rechargeable battery and chew-resistant adapter and holds five to seven pounds of dry food. Portion sizes are customizable between 1/16 cup and 1-1/2 cups.
#8 WOpet Feeder, Automatic
This automatic feeder is as cute as it is convenient. It comes in a fun animal shape and includes a voice recorder for customized meal calls (up to 10 seconds).
It can be powered by batteries or with an adapter, and if the power goes out don’t worry—the batteries will ensure that the programmed meals will continue as usual.
Portions can be customized anywhere from a teaspoon to just over half-a-cup, so this feeder is best for smaller dogs.
The hopper holds 2.5 pounds of food and can be programmed for up to four meals per day. It’s made from BPA-free plastic for your dog’s safety.
#9 Iseebiz Automatic Pet Feeder
Similar to the last automatic feeder on the list, the Iseebiz feeder is best-suited to small dogs.
Portions can be customized between a teaspoon and just over half-a-cup, and up to four meals can be programmed per day.
It also comes with the ten-second voice recorded meal call, and also comes with two sources of power.
It can run on batteries (usually for about six months) or be powered by an adaptor, and if the power goes out the batteries kick in to keep the meals coming on their usual schedule.
The hopper on this automatic feeder holds a little bit more than the last one, up to three pounds. This feeder is also made without BPA.
And finally, that brings us to my choice for the top automatic pet feeder….
#10 WOpet 7L Pet Feeder
Another great automatic pet feeder from WOpet, this one can schedule up to four meals per day and portions are customizable anywhere from 2 teaspoons to 4.5 cups—so you can feed big or small dogs.
This automatic feeder also has a duplicate power source, and can be plugged into the wall or run on a batter—plus if you lose power the battery backup will keep Fido fed.
The price is reasonable on this feeder, as well. Some of the smart automatic pet feeders run up to a couple hundred dollars or more, but this one does nearly all the work for less than half the cost.
It also doesn’t require the use of smartphones or smart homes despite having many of the same perks, so this is a feeder that will work for just about everyone.
This feeder allows you to record a voice message to call your dog over for their meal. It’s only designed for dry food, but the feeding tray comes out easily and is dishwasher-safe.
The hopper also carries a whopping 20 cups of food for future meals, so you’ll spend less time refilling and more time playing fetch, plus the hopper can be easily pulled out to clean and refill as needed.
This feeder comes with a one year warranty and 24/7 tech support, too. It’s easy to see why this feeder comes with stellar reviews.
Whether a simple, down-to-Earth gravity feeder is calling your name or you have your eye on an automatic pet feeder that can do it all, investing in an automatic pet feeder adds convenience and peace of mind to your life and your pet’s life.
It is one less thing to worry about during your busy day so that you have more quality time to spend with your dog doing the things you both love.