As much as we love our dogs, sometimes we unfortunately have to leave them at home alone. Whether you have to stay at work for the night or your handler calls in sick, being apart can be difficult for both you and your dog. But there is one thing we can do to make their life a little better: put them on a regular feeding schedule.
Are automatic feeders good for dogs?
Eating at the same time every day is not only healthy for your dog, it can make your life easier. After all, a dog that eats on a schedule poops on a schedule – which means you’re less likely to get home in an accident. Eating regularly will also help you notice if something is wrong with your dog’s health, as often the first sign that your puppy is sick is loss of appetite.
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Automatic feeders are used here. They allow you to set up a routine that will feed your dog at the same time every day – whether you are at home or not.
While automatic feeders sound like a great one-size-fits-all option for feeding your dogs while you are away, it isn’t always the case. Many automatic feeders only dispense about one cup of food at a time. So if you have a larger dog that needs to eat more, you’ll need to buy one that can serve a larger serving of food.
What types of automatic feeders are there?
There are four main types of automatic dog feeders: gravity feeders, programmable models that dispense a set amount of food at a specific time, programmable plate feeders, and smart models that can be controlled via your phone.
We removed gravity feeders from this list because they don’t actually automatically feed your pet. Basically, this type of feeder is designed so that the food bowl is always full and refilled every time your dog eats. This is essentially a recipe for keeping your dog overfed, which is not good for your pup’s health.
The other three types are better options for automatic feeding. Programmable models with timers allow you to select the amount of food and the serving time. Plate feeders require you to portion the food into multiple compartments (which allows you to control the exact amount) and then rotate to reveal one section at a time. And finally, intelligent automatic feeders offer you a complete remote control with which you can set feeding times, quantities and more via a smartphone app.
What to consider when choosing an automatic dog feeder
Take stock of your current feeding schedule and routine. Do you usually rush home to feed your pup? Do you prefer smaller meals throughout the day or 1-2 large meals? Are you a fan of digital systems versus automatic food release timers? Is a manual option important? It all depends on your pet and your personal preferences.
Bonus features are also good to consider! Some dog feeders offer a whole host of other perks that can make it easier for the two of you to be apart – from video cameras to phone status updates to fun food games to 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 shed a few pounds, relying on an automatic feeder to self-portion the food is not the best option. Many feeders tend to dispense slightly more than the programmed amount, making it easy for a dog to eat more than the recommended portion size. The solution to avoid overfeeding with an automatic feeder is to buy a feeder that allows you to pre-portion your dog food, like the PetSafe EatWell 5-Meal Pet Feeder.
So what is the best automatic dog feeder?
Whether you’re just looking for help with your dog’s daily diet or you’re looking for something special that does more, there are plenty of options. Check out our top picks below.