The Best Pet Automatic Feeders for Pet Owners

Updated on April 26, 2017
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Adrienne is a former veterinary hospital assistant, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Automatic pet feeders for dogs
Automatic pet feeders for dogs | Source

Guide to the Best Auto Feeders for Pets

The hustle and bustle of everyday life has certainly caused humans to take short cuts in just about every aspect of their life in order to make things easier. Microwaves deliver meals under three minutes, dishwashers automatically clean dishes, coffee makers punctually produce daily cups of Joe, and auto feeders feed hungry pets. If you have never seen a pet automatic feeder before, you may wonder how these devices work.

As the name implies, such feeders are programmed to dispense food at times when you may not be available due to work or you are busy carrying out other chores. This provides a convenient solution for owners of dogs and cats who want their pets to have access to food at pre-determined times. There are ultimately many advantages when it comes to investing in an automatic pet feeder, but there may be some disadvantages as well. It is worthy to evaluate all the pros and cons of auto feeders to make an informed choice.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Auto Pet Feeders

Advantages:

Among the advantages of the best rated automatic pet feeders is obviously the fact that they are convenient. If you go to work early in the morning, you can set the automatic food dispenser to dispense food during the middle of the day, without the need to stop by the home or hire a pet-sitter to come feed your pet. Auto feeders may also be a good solution to prevent several medical problems. Indeed, some autofeeders are also veterinarian recommended.

Small dogs may be unable to stay too long without food, or cats suffering from diabetes may require small frequent meals to prevent their blood sugar from going too low, in these cases, an auto feeder can be a valuable solution. Also, an auto feeder delivering smaller meals a day slowly, versus one big meal wolfed down when the owner comes home, may help prevent bloat, a potentially fatal condition common in deep-chested dogs. An auto feeder may also prove beneficial to dogs affected by gastric disorders where excessive production of stomach acids during the night may require a middle in the night or early morning meal to prevent vomiting bile. Not many owners are keen on getting up in the middle of the night to give a small portion, when an auto feeder may take care of this easily.

Disadvantages:

Depending on the type of feeder, one disadvantage can be that some feeders may be noisy. Most dogs usually can get over this fairly quickly since they learn to asssociate the noise with the delivery of food. In a similar way, most cats learn that the noise is a pleasant cue that food is coming, just as they do when they hear a can opener. However, some noise sensitive dogs or cats may have a hard time with some particularly noisy brands.

Another disadvantage of an auto feed is that it takes away the role of humans controlling a dog's resources. While feeding a dog may seem like a daily routine with nothing to think much about, in reality, when you personally feed your dog yourself, from a training point of view, your dog sees you as a leader that has access to resources. Providing free access to food removes the possibility for the dog owner to demonstrate he or she is in control of feeding. Dog behavior consultant and dog trainer, Pam Young claims that part of a good leadership program branches from the control of resources: food, water, rest areas, and access to outside.

Automatic Pet Feeder Reviews

PetMate Le Bistro

The PetMate Le Bistro is made in such a way to facilitate your life and make feeding your pet an easy, hassle-free task. It has many helpful features that will be appreciated by all those conducting a busy life style.

Pros:

  • Holds 5 or 10 pounds of food
  • Delivers portion controlled meals
  • Transparent food hopper to see how much food is left
  • Twist-lock lid to keep food fresh
  • Large LCD screen
  • Bowl is easily removable for cleaning
  • Easy to assemble
  • One year limited warranty

Cons:

  • Cannot be used with canned food, moist food, or treats
  • Can only be used for dogs or cats
  • Not for outdoor use
  • Not recommended for puppies or kittens under 7 months old
  • Some smart cats may figure out how to stick their paws up the chute and free-feed themselves

Price range: expect to pay over 50 dollars for this auto feeder.

Petmate does not sell its products directly to the public and therefore expect to find this autofeeder at local pet stores or online in stores like Amazon.

Ergo Auto Pet Feeder

This is one of the best options for those looking for a not so average pet feeder with lots of extras. It provides a perfect solution for those with an unpredicatble schedule and with little time on hand.

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Digital timer to allow feeding at specific times
  • Battery backup available in case of power failure
  • Airtight lid
  • Clear container allows to monitor food levels
  • Detachable bowl for easy cleaning
  • Slow dispensing feature prevents bloat
  • Pet feeder is quiet

Cons

  • Some cats may be smart enough to slip a paw into the auger
  • Feeder only accepts a certain shape and diameter of food.
  • Can be quite pricey costing around 120-140 dollars

Lentek Pet Dish

At times, pet owners want a different kind of design, something less bulky looking and modern. Shaped like a flying saucer, the Lentek pet dish offers a modern design accompanied by interesting features, and the price is just right.

Pros:

  • Offers automated feeding intervals of 6, 12, or 24 hrs
  • Six separate food trays
  • Allows the use of both dry or canned food
  • Lid is removable for easy cleaning
  • Comes with two ice packs to keep food fresh

Cons

  • May suffix for only three days for cats fed twice a day
  • A Phillips screwdriver is required every time a battery must be changed

Price range: expect to pay about 40 dollars for this autofeeder.

Van Ness Auto Feeder

This is a very simple auto feeder over all that comes in different sizes. Van Ness auto feeder comes in extra small holding 1.5 pounds, small holding 3 pounds of food, medium holding 6 pounds of food, and large holding 10 pounds of food. It makes a good auto feeder for those looking for a no-frill, basic and affordable auto feeder.

Pros:

  • The extra small size is ideal for cats when owners travel for a week-end
  • The lid is removable so to allow cleaning
  • USFDA food contact approved
  • Clear container for easy viewing of food
  • Very affordable

Cons:

  • Lacks a timer
  • Lacks features to allow portion control
  • Size differences may require consumers to purchase several as dog grows

* Expect to pay between 7 and 20 dollars depending on size of auto feeder.

Van Ness does not sell it products directly to the public but makes its products available in local pet stores or online in stores like Amazon.com.

Final Thoughts

As seen, the best rated automatic pet feeders can be a great solution for busy pet parents. However, pet owners should never rely on the auto feeder totally. When going away for a few days, for instance, it is best to have a neighbor or a pet sitter come check on your cat on a daily basis. There have been instances where the auto feeder got jammed or there was a power failure and the poor pet did not get nourished as it was supposed to.

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