Best Automatic Feeders for Dogs

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With pet obesity becoming a full-blown epidemic and the rise of nutrition-related health issues in dogs, it’s never been clearer that the diet of our pets needs to be scrutinized. Many first go for the revaluation of the type of food they are pouring in their pet’s bowls first but overlook what seems to be as big of a problem as the food choice: portion size and mealtime routine. Determining how much food your precious four-legged companion needs to eat each day and sticking to it is a crucial factor in maintaining their ideal weight and in doing so, good health. Most experts recommend splitting that amount into a few smaller meals to promote better digestion and prevent bloating- an issue that affects many dogs. 

Unfortunately, with our busy schedules and long work hours, it’s not always easy to commit to feeding multiple meals throughout the day. That’s where an automatic feeder for dogs comes in handy. Instead of pouring all of their kibble in the bowl once you get home from work, you can make sure their food is doled out by the feeder and your pooch will have his munching routine all set. Automatic feeder for dogs can be a perfect solution for multi-pet households, as well, as you can’t just pour out kibble for free feeding if you can’t know for sure which of your pooches is going to be eating it. For instance, my dogs are nothing alike when it comes to their appetite- leaving food for a picky eater while the four-legged kibble fiend is around would be a recipe for a disaster. And these are just some of the situations where an automatic feeder for dogs would be a lifesaver- there are various designs on the market that cater to different canines’ needs.

The idea is pretty straightforward: kibble is being dispensed automatically, in the desired amount and scheduled intervals. It’s all about making sure your pet eats his meals consistently- even when you’re not around to pour the food in the bowl- so the principle is always the same. However, there are different designs that will get you from point A to point B. Not all of them will work best for your specific needs and preferences, so take a look at some of the most common types of dog feeders before getting one for your pooch:

Gravity-fed dog feeders Amazon basics

As the name suggests, this type of automatic pet feeder relies on gravity to get the job done. The simplest of all types, this design involves only two elements: a barrel-style container for kibble and a bowl it’s connected to. The gravity will ensure that the kibble is poured when the bowl is not full, but that’s about it. No ability to set the amount of the food, no timer, no whistles and bells at all. As a result, this type of automatic dog feeder is not an ideal choice for most dogs. It will continue pouring the kibble as long as it has some in the container, allowing your piggy of a dog to eat as much as he wants- and that’s definitely more than he should. So unless you have a picky dog with a low appetite that usually free feeds, these won’t work for your needs. Some of the most popular gravity-fed dog feeders include AmazonBasics Self-Dispensing Gravity Pet Feeder and PetSafe Healthy Pet Gravity Dog Feeder.

Vertically-fed feeder Petmate Portion

The idea is somewhat the same as it is with the gravity-fed feeder, as both types have vertical containers for food. However, these are a bit more sophisticated, as they have a timer included in the design. That way, the kibble is not poured without any limit whenever the bowl empties, but rather only at a specific time. So if you want to prevent your pooch from pigging out but want something totally simple to use, pick this one. The prices are usually somewhere in the mid-range, and unless you’re away for too long throughout the day and having a timer set for one meal is not enough, these should work just fine for your pooch. Check out vertically-fed dog feeders such as Petmate Portion Right Programmable Feeder or Qpets AF 200 that holds 10 pounds of kibble if you need an X-Large capacity option.

Clamshell-style dog feeder Petsafe

Just look at it this way: a clamshell keeps its pearl cleverly hidden inside, and only when the two hinged halves are open can you get access to the beautiful pearl. Well, to you kibble might not be treasure-material, but to your dog it certainly is, so finding inspiration in clams to design an automatic feeder does make sense in more ways than one. These types of feeders function by keeping the food under a hinged lid, section into different compartments and locked away from your pet. At set times, the latch will open and provide access to one of the compartments, making sure that your pet’s meals are evenly dosed out. This type of automatic dog feeders is ideal for greedy eaters that need to slow down with their food intake or for times when you need to remotely feed more than one meal to your pet. Good examples of this style are PetSafe Automatic 2 Meal Dog Feeder or WOpet Automatic Pet Feeder.

Circular dog feeder Home Intuition

The way circular dispensers work is that they have multiple smaller compartments that are rotated at scheduled intervals. Usually, these type of automatic dog feeders can deliver up to 6 pre-portioned meals per day, which is perfect if you want to make sure your pooch doesn’t chow down on his daily dose of kibble in seconds. You might also want to divide the daily kibble dose into several smaller portions if your pet is having digestion issues, as this can help with the bloating. While the name implies it, these are not always round dispensers, but the main compartment where the food is stored will be circular. The reason for this is that the lid has to rotate with ease in order to provide access to different compartment- hence the circular shape. For some reliable circular dispensers, take a look at Home Intuition 6 Meal Automatic Pet Feeder or PetSafe 5 Meal Pet Feeder for Dogs.

Despite the differences in design, you’ll need to look for the same features in most automatic dog feeders. Your own preferences and your pet’s habits will play an important role in choosing the best features, so here’s what to keep an eye out for: 

  • Capacity

Do you want to refill the container every few days, hours, or weeks? The capacity of containers vary, so make sure to check if the volume meets your own criteria and your pet’s meal plan. Having to refill your pet’s automatic feeder every day kind of defeats its purpose, so always go for the bigger container if you’re unsure.

  • Food Compatibility

Do you feed canned food, semi-wet food, or kibble? Not all automatic dog feeders support every type of commercial pet food, so don’t rush with the purchase until you’re sure your dog’s fave chow will be compatible with it. Similarly, large-breed kibble is usually larger in size, as well, so check if the opening of the feeder is wide enough to accommodate it. 

  • Power Source

If you are getting one of the automatic feeders that need batteries, be sure the battery life is not ridiculously low. Sometimes, all the fancy features and options can drain batteries like it’s nobody’s business, so either look for those that don’t need a lot of horsepower or that plug into an electrical socket. 

  • Ease of maintenance

The last thing you want is being stuck with a dog feeder that can’t be cleaned properly. Unless the bowl and the container are either dishwasher safe or easy to wash manually, no amount of bells and whistles can make up for the fact that the feeder will harbor bacteria or smell bad.

Whether you’re looking to create a meal routine for your dog while you’re away at work, want to make sure that your dogs are not stealing each other’s food in your absence, or want to split their food into more meals to prevent fast feeding, an automatic feeder for dogs will help you do it. Our comprehensive list features the best and most popular automatic feeders for dogs to make sure you can make the best decision for your dog without having to waste hours researching on your own. Take a look and choose- we’ve made sure to include diverse options, so there’s an automatic feeder for every dog’s needs!

Top 10 Best Automatic Feeders for Dogs: Petnet SmartFeeder

Type: Vertically-fed feeder

If you want a smart, tech-powered solution to your pet meal planning issues, check out Petnet SmartFeeder. As the name suggests, this innovative automatic feeder for dogs is controlled via a smartphone app. Through WiFi, you will be able to feed your pet wherever you are, just with a few clicks on your phone. But, automatic feeding is just one of the features this nifty device offers. You can also use the app to see what are the healthiest portions based on your pets breed, age, weight, and activity level, receive alerts when your pet eats, and much more.

To boot, SmartFeeder also works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Nest Cam, so you can use voice commands to operate it. Unfortunately, this automatic feeder for dogs is just for pooches that weigh 60 pounds or less.

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Type: Vertically-fed feeder

Versatile and practical, Qpets AF 200 Advanced Programmable Pet Feeder will make scheduling your pet’s meals a breeze. Designed to give you all the fancy options without the hassle of using an app or needing Bluetooth or Wifi to program the meal time, this vertically-fed feeder also boasts a large capacity. It can hold up to 10lbs of and can be set to dispense anywhere from from 1/4 cup to 5 cups at pre-programmed intervals (you can schedule up to 4 meals a day). To boot, you can also schedule it to dispense meals every day or only on specific days, for instance when you know you’ll stay late in the office. Another pawesome feature is the option to record messages for your pet that would play when it’s meal time to encourage them to come and eat! Qpets AF 200 Advanced Programmable Pet Feeder runs on electricity or on 4 D size batteries which provide up to 6 months of uninterrupted work- this is also a great backup option to have in case of a power outage! Suited for small and big pieces of kibble, this programmable pet feeder can be used for petite pooches and large breed dogs both. 

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Top 10 Best Automatic Feeders for Dogs: WOpet 7L Automatic Pet Feeder

Type: Vertically-fed feeder

The large capacity of the WOpet automatic feeder allows you to pour kibble in and don’t have to worry about refilling for at least a few days or more, depending on your pet’s meal plan. And, as the top is transparent, you’ll always know when you’re low on kibble. Designed to cater to small breed dogs, this feeder will dispense up to 4 meals per day, with offered portion sizes varying from 2 teaspoons to 4.5 cups per feeding. The WOpet boasts one unique feature, as well: you can record a voice message for your pet that will play when the food dispenses- adorable!

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Type: Clamshell-style feeder

In case you don’t need an automatic pet feeder with all the bells and whistles and want something simple to use or your dog eats wet or homemade meals, this is the one to go for. PAWISE Automatic Pet Feeder can hold 1.5 cups of food and a wet or ice pack that can be put beneath the food tray to keep it fresh which is particularly nifty when you’re giving your pet canned or cooked food. Easy to operate, this simple automatic pet feeder is powered by AA batteries and can be placed anywhere in the room which is perfect if there’s no power outlet near your pet’s feeding area. Meals can be scheduled for up to 48 hours in advance so you don’t have to worry about your pet skipping meals if you’re not around. This is a great option for small to medium-size dogs and will suit pets that eat once a day and especially those that are not eating a kibble diet.

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Top 10 Best Automatic Feeders for Dogs: Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder

Type: Vertically-fed feeder

The Arf Pets automatic feeder for dogs is powered both by batteries and electricity so you don’t have to worry about your pet staying hungry in case of a power outage. The LCD display controls are easy to set up, and you can choose a portion sizes that’s anywhere between 24 ml to 240 ml. This feeder can dispense up to 4 meals a day, and will keep your pupper full when you’re at work.

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Top 10 Best Automatic Feeders for Dogs: Aspen Pet LeBistro Portion Control Programmable Pet Feeder

Type: Vertically-fed feeder

Simple to use and boasting a big capacity (30 cups of kibble), this automatic feeder can be a good choice for larger doggos. It’s meant to be used if you don’t want more than 3 meals for your pet, as it can only be set to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each of the meals can be 1/4 cup to 3 cups of kibble, though, so your fur baby won’t be hungry. If you want a simple, no-frills automatic feeder for dogs, LeBistro is a solid choice, but if you expect more features, you should definitely skip this one. 

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Top 10 Best Automatic Feeders for Dogs: WESTLINK 6L Automatic Pet Feeder

Type: Vertically-fed feeder

The dimensions of this automatic dog feeder make it a suitable choice for pets of most sizes but check the portion sizes first if you want to get it for your large breed dog. WESTLINK serves up to 4 meals a day, with a maximum portion size of circa 2 cups. The feeding schedule is easy to set up as the feeder has a small LCD screen, and in addition to the basic timer, it also offers you the option of recording a short voice message to let your pooch know it’s chow time.

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Top 10 Best Automatic Feeders for Dogs: HoneyGuaridan A36 Automatic Pet Feeder

Type: Vertically-fed feeder

The sleek and stylish design of this automatic pet feeder will ensure it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb in your apartment. Of course, stainless steel is not only attractive but durable and easy to clean, which is another bonus. HoneyGuaridan can serve up to 6 meals per day and the maximum size of each portion is 3 cups, which is OK for most dogs, small or large. The capacity of this automatic feeder is  13 cups total, so a big dog will be set for 3 days of munching, whereas a toy dog could have his meals set up for half a month in advance without the need for a refill. 

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Top 10 Best Automatic Feeders for Dogs: Pawple Automatic Pet Feeder

Type: Circular dispenser

The compact size and unusual design of Pawple might not indicate that this is an automatic pet feeder, but it actually outdid its competitors in some areas. If you want strict portion control for pet weight loss, Pawple might be your best chance. It works with wet and dry food both (it can be used for meds, too), and even a combo of both in one meal. How? Pawple has 6 compartments you can fill up before you go to work and program them to rotate an open throughout the day. Simple but quite effective!

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Top 10 Best Automatic Feeders for Dogs: DOGNESS Automatic WiFi Smart Camera Feeder

Type: Vertically-fed feeder

In addition to the features that all smart automatic feeders for dogs offer, DOGNESS also has a built-in camera, so you can watch your pet eat. Great if you have more than one pet in your home or simply want to see is your pooch eating at the right pace. The concept is similar to that of treat-tossing cameras as you can access the stream through a smartphone app, but instead of a few treats, DOGNESS dispenses whole meals. 

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While an automatic pet feeder can make your life much easier, these gadgets are not a perfect choice for all pet owners. As it is usually the case with all pet products, there are certain upsides and downsides that could make a big difference- here’s what you need to know before purchasing an automatic feeder for your dog.

  • Automatic pet feeders can be a good choice for dogs that need to lose weight as you can closely control the amount of food they eat as well as schedule multiple smaller meals to prevent overeating.
  • When you work long hours or need to go on a short overnight trip, an automatic feeder that can be pre-programmed will make sure your pet’s meal is served at the time when they expect it to.
  • Automatic feeders for dogs, especially those designed for multiple-pet households, can be an excellent way to make sure your pets are not stealing each other’s food when you’re not around and can help you ensure each dog is sticking to their particular diet.
  • Usually, automatic feeders for dogs have a decent storage capacity so you won’t have to constantly pour kibble into it or worry about food’s freshness.
  • Keeping food in an automatic feeder, as well as the fact that the meal is dispensed at a particular time rather than laying out in the bowl for the whole day, keeps insects and rodents away from your dog’s chow.
  • Automatic pet feeders are not flawless- sometimes they malfunction or their power source does, and your pet can be left hungry for too long. 
  • Larger dogs can tip the feeder over causing it to malfunction or spill the food- the similar is true for aggressive power chewers that could be prompted to try and destroy the device they realize is holding their dinner.
  • Dogs and owners build a bond during feeding time and relying solely on automatic dog feeders can have an effect on your relationship.
  • Most automatic pet feeders are optimized for dry dog food only, and even if the model is versatile enough that it can serve wet meals, it can be a hassle to clean and difficult to keep food unspoiled for a longer period of time.
  • The sound of food dispensing can sometimes be loud and scare off your pet. This is particularly true for skittish dogs, but can sometimes be remedied with a pre-recorded voice message with your voice soothing them and reassuring them that it’s safe to eat. 

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