Which automatic dog feeder is best?

A regular eating schedule, with two daily meals, helps dogs maintain good health. Irregular eating patterns with overeating or long periods between meals can lead to digestive problems.

For dog owners who work or attend school, keeping a consistent eating schedule for their pets can sometimes be a challenge. Automatic feeders can help. They allow you to set up a schedule to feed your dog the same amount at the same time every day, regardless of whether you’re home or away. One of the best automatic dog feeders is the WESTLINK 6L Automatic Pet Feeder.

What to know before you buy an automatic dog feeder

Gravity-fed feeders

The gravity feeder is designed to always keep the food bowl full, refilling whenever your dog eats. They are convenient for dog owners who believe their pets should choose when and how much to eat. However, these feeders are not suitable for dogs who eat until their food is all gone, no matter the quantity.

Mechanized vertically fed feeders

In a mechanized feeder, the food is dispensed from a large reservoir only when a timer opens the chute, providing more control than a gravity-fed system. The scheduled feeding prevents your pet from overeating, but it only works with dry kibble.

Clamshell dispensers

Clamshell-shaped dispensers are made with one or more compartments covered with a hinged lid. At the programmed time, the latch is released and the top of the container swings open, allowing your pet to access the food inside. Clamshell-style feeders are more flexible than the a simple mechanized feeder, and they work with any type of food, dry or wet.

Circular dispensers

Circular dispensers built with several different compartments, provide the option of feeding your dog a variety of food. Your dog eats when a rotating lid uncovers a compartment at a scheduled time. 

Most circular dispensers can be programmed to give your dog access to different meals over the course of several days. Any type of food can be loaded into the compartments, wet or dry.

Smart dog feeders

With a smartphone app, smart feeders give you full remote control to set feeding quantities and times. An HD camera and audio permit you to view and talk to your dog while away.

Refilling and cleaning

Although feeders help automate feeding, you’ll still need to load the food reservoir regularly, and clean the dish daily to keep your dog healthy.

What to look for in a quality automatic dog feeder

Capacity

A larger capacity feeder alleviates the worry your pet will go without food when you are away from the house for an extended period, since you’ll need to refill it less frequently.

Airtight food reservoirs

Select a dog feeder with a relatively air-tight reservoir to prevent air from entering and keep the food fresh longer.

Portion size

Meal portions vary depending on a dog’s breed and size and special requirements like a restricted diet. A feeder that releases a measured portion will allow you to specify the amount of food according to your dog’s needs.

Meal frequency

While many dogs are accustomed to eating twice a day, others require smaller portions more frequently. Look for a dog feeder that allows you to schedule frequent mealtimes to keep your dog well-fed.

Reservoir lock

Most dog feeders are made with locking lids to avoid access to the food in the hopper when the dog is between meals. Choose a feeder with a sturdy design that can’t be easily tipped over and a robust locking system to prevent persistent dogs from breaking open the hopper.

Maintenance

Although dog feeders provide a convenient way to feed your dog, the devices must be cleaned and maintained to ensure your dog eats healthy meals. Look for a feeder with a dishwasher-friendly material or stainless-steel dish for easy cleaning. A feeder that disassembles is simpler to clean than a single-piece unit.

How much you can expect to spend on an automatic dog feeder

Quality gravity-fed dog feeders are available for about $40, while automatic feeders with a full set of programmable features cost about $200.

Automatic dog feeder FAQ

When was the automatic dog feeder invented?

A. Raymond V. Sweeny created the first patented feeder for pets in 1939.

Can more than one dog use the same automatic feeder?

A. Feeders are designed and programmed to provide proper daily meal portioning for one pet at a time.

What’s the best automatic dog feeder to buy?

Top automatic dog feeder

WESTLINK 6L Automatic Pet Feeder

WESTLINK 6L Automatic Pet Feeder

What you need to know: The voice recorder and programmable feeder allows you to schedule up to four meals per day and record a 10-second-long voice message encouraging Fido to eat when you are away.

What you’ll love: The reservoir holds up to 6 liters of food and the feeder dispenses approximately 10 to 12 grams of food for each meal. The lockable device is compatible with all types of dry dog food, and you can program it to dispense up to 39 separate meals.

What you should consider: A few pet owners reported their pets were successful in breaking into the food reservoir.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top automatic dog feeder for the money

Petmate Pet Cafe Feeder

Petmate Pet Cafe Feeder

What you need to know: This convenient, affordable gravity feeder requires no power and features a 12-pound reservoir to keep your dog’s bowl consistently full of food.

What you’ll love: The feeder made with environmentally friendly PET plastic and features a dishwasher-safe base and lid. The pearl color matches most home decors.

What you should consider: The food occasionally gets stuck, which is typical of most automatic dog feeders.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Wayfair

Worth checking out

PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Dog Feeder

PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Dog Feeder

What you need to know: This large-capacity (24 cups) dog feeder offers quantity control to dispense food to your dog in healthy portions.

What you’ll love: You can schedule up to 12 meals per day in amounts ranging from 1/8 cup to 4 cups per serving. The “feed now” and “pause feeding” functions offer maximum flexibility in feeding times. A secure design prevents pets from eating during non-scheduled times.

What you should consider: The stainless-steel bowl is small and better suited for smaller dogs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Wayfair

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Jeffrey Harper writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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