The ideal eating schedule for most dogs is twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Unfortunately, this schedule is not an easy one to maintain due to your work, social, or family commitments.
The good news is that there is an effective and easy solution to this problem — there are plenty of automatic dog feeders with timers that will allow you to give your pet fresh food exactly when he needs to eat.
Here are our top picks for the best self feeder for dogs plus a detailed buying guide.
PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Dog Feeder
PetSafe is one of the leading brands of the pet product market, and their automatic dog food dispenser is, is always, a reliable and sensible choice. This programmable dog feeder can be set up to dispense up to 12 meals to your dog and is best suited for small and medium breeds.
This automatic dog feeder even has a special option for dogs who eat too fast: to prevent an upset stomach, you can schedule smaller meals that will fit right into your pup’s eating schedule. The feeder is powered by batteries and has a stainless steel bowl that is super easy to clean.
HoneyGuaridan Automatic Pet Feeder
Besides the modern, attractive design, this automatic food dispenser for dogs by HoneyGuaridan has many features that place it among the best dog feeders on our list. It can be programmed to dispense up to 6 meals, up to 3 cups each. The stainless steel bowl can be easily removed for washing and put back into the feeder.
The HoneyGuaridan automatic dog feeder has a low food alarm, which will remind you to top up the food storage on time. There is also a voice recording option that will allow you to invite your pet to the meal with a 10-second recording of your own voice.
PetSafe Automatic 2 Meal Cat and Dog Feeder
Best Budget Pick
If you are not planning to use the dog feeder for more than two feedings a day, you don’t need to spend too much on your new device. In this situation, the PetSafe automatic feeder is exactly what you need to provide your pup with fresh food while you’re away.
This dog feeder consists of two plastic trays and can also be used as an automatic dog treat dispenser. Simply fill one or both trays with your dog’s food or favorite treats, set the timers to up to 48 hours, and feed your dog exactly what he needs it. The feeder is designed for small and medium breeds and can fit up to 1.5 cups of food in every tray.
Best Gravity Dog Feeders
Ancaixin Automatic Feeder and Water Dispenser
In case you are a happy owner of a dog who will not overeat no matter how much food he sees, you can easily get away with a simple gravity dog food dispenser. This Ancaixin automatic dog feeder for large breeds is a pretty good option: it can fit up to 1 gallon of dry food and comes with a 1-gallon water dispenser to keep your pup hydrated at all times.
A gravity automatic feeder for dog is probably as easy as it gets: there are no power sources required and no intricate controls to set the time for the feeding. Plus, the plastic is BPA-free and is absolutely safe to use for all dogs.
Little Giant Galvanized Steel Chow Hound Dog Feeder
In case you are looking for extra durability — for example, if your pup is known to occasionally chew his feeding bowls or other items — then you should definitely consider a metal dog feeder. This dog feeder by Little Giant combines the strength of metal with the simplicity of a gravity feeder.
Unlike most feeders on our list, it should be mounted on the wall. It can fit up to 25lbs of dog food and comes with an angled shoot for an easy access to the food. Thanks to the sturdy construction and the use of durable materials, it can also be used as an outdoor dog feeder.
Best Smart Dog Feeders
PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog Feeder
In the past few years, smart dog feeders became some of the most coveted options on the market, and the PetSafe Smart Feed is arguably the most popular one of them. It can be controlled by an iOS or Android app or with Amazon Echo.
This automatic dog feeder has anything you could expect from a device like this: you can program up to 12 meals for your pup even outside the standard feeding times; there is a low food notification to never miss the top-up time; and you can even automatically order your dog’s favorite food from Amazon when the device runs low.
WOPET SmartFeeder Automatic Pet Dog Feeder
The WOPET SmartFeeder is probably the most technologically advanced option on our list. It rocks a cutting-edge design and is equipped with numerous features for effective and convenient use. It can fit up to 3 liters of food that can last your pup for days.
This auto dog feeder can be managed through Android or iOS apps and is also compatible with Amazon Echo. It supports up to 12 meals a day and is equipped with both a voice recording option for inviting your dog to eat and an HD camera that will allow you to see your pet even when you’re away.
PETKIT Smart Feed Automatic Dog Feeder
The PETKIT Smart Feed is possibly the best automatic dog feeder in terms of design — you are guaranteed to enjoy seeing this device day after day in your home. You can fit up to 3.3lbs of dog food into the dispenser that supports up to 10 meals a day starting at just 5 grams.
Like most other smart dog feeders, this once can be controlled via mobile apps and Amazon Echo. The Double Fresh Lock system keeps the food fresh for days, and you will get automatic notifications when there are less than 250 grams of food left in the device.
PortionProRx Automatic Pet Feeder for Dogs
Best Feeder for Multiple Pets
If you have more than one dog and want to create a comfortable feeding schedule without buying multiple devices or personally controlling each feeding session, this is the device you need to consider. The PortionProRx feeder is based on RFID technology that automatically recognizes the pet approaching the device and dispenses the required amount of food.
You can schedule up to 6 meals a day, and the feeding bin can hold up to 32lbs of dog food. By being able to detect the animal, this feeder can help you avoid having your dogs steal each other’s food or overeating, which can cause a number of health problems.
Dog Feeders Buying Guide
Why should you buy an automatic dog feeder?
If you have been feeding your dogs the regular way for years, you may be wondering: do you actually need a timed dog feeder or is it nothing more than a waste of money? And while a dog feeder will still not make you able to leave the house for more than a couple of days, you can get a number of benefits with an automatic dog feeder. Here are the most important ones:
- Time off
If you want to occasionally take the time off, for example, during weekends, or simply sleep in on a Saturday morning, you can program the feeder to provide food for your dog when you are unable to do it.
- Healthy eating schedule
Eating twice a day is the ideal schedule for most dogs, but if you work long hours or leave the house too early, your dog’s eating schedule may not be the best one for your pup. You can use an automatic dog feeder to feed your dog at regular times when you are not around.
- Emotional support
Your dog can get lonely while you are not home. The best dog feeder models can not only dispense the required amount of food to your pup, but also play your voice recording to keep his spirits up when you’re gone.
- Slow feeding
In case your dog is prone to eating his meal too fast and then suffer from an upset stomach, you can find a helpful solution with one of the automatic dog feeders that gradually release small portions of the food to make your dog eat slower.
- Multiple pet household
If you have more than one dog at home, feeding them can become a hassle even when you’re home. An automatic feeder with a microchip or RFID technology will release different-sized meals depending on the dog that is approaching the feeder.
Types of automatic dog feeders
These days, when shopping in a pet feeder store for a new device, you can choose from the following dog feeder types:
- Gravity feeder
This is by far the simplest and most affordable type of automatic dog feeders available today. It doesn’t have any electric parts of programmable technology. Instead, it simply releases the dog food from the top container into the bowl once the bowl runs out of food. It’s not the best solution for dogs who will not stop eating until they eat the very last piece, but if your pup is good at self-managing the feedings, you and your furry friend will definitely enjoy this device.
- Vertically fed feeder with a timer
The next type of automatic dog feeder costs more than its gravity-operated counterpart, but it also gives you more control over the feeding times. Just set the timer before leaving the home and the vertically fed feeder will release the chosen amount of kibbles into your dog’s bowl.
- Circular dispenser
A circular pet food dispenser can consist of just one compartment, but most feeders have multiple compartments that are protected by a lid. When the timer reaches the preselected time, the rotating lid will automatically open up, giving your dog full access to the compartment for feeding.
- Clamshell dispenser
Like circular dispensers, clamshell dog feeders have a lid on top of the feeding compartment, but in this case, the lid is steady and non-rotating. Once the timer opens up the lid, the lid will be automatically unhinged. There can be one or more feeding compartments in a clamshell dog feeder, and they typically work with both dry and wet food.
Features to consider
To make the best choice of an automatic dog feeder for you and your pup, consider the following features in your shopping process:
- Your lifestyle
The first question you need to answer before making the decision is how exactly you are going to use the dog feeder. Are you going to be absent for more than 12 hours? Then look for a device with an increased capacity. If you are planning to mostly use the device in the backyard or patio, pick one of the sturdier outside dog feeders.
- Food type and size
Most automatic dog feeders work strictly with dry dog food, so if you prefer your dog to eat moist or wet food, you will need to choose from fewer options. The size of the kibble also matters: many feeders only work with small kibbles and therefore don’t make the best option as a large dog feeder.
The concept of an automatic dog feeder means that the dog will not have unlimited access to food and you will control his feeding schedule. A dog feeder that is easy to break and get into defies the purpose and means you have spent money on nothing.
- Feeding dish
In order to last you for a long time and be absolutely safe for your pup, the feeding dish that comes with the feeder needs to have an exceptionally high quality. Stainless steel or BPA-free plastic bowls are the best options in terms of safety. Plus, most of them can be easily cleaned in a dishwasher for easier maintenance.
- Voice recording
If you often go away and feel that your dog misses you a lot, or if you have an unusually shy or older dog who may need an invitation to eat, look for a dog feeder with a voice recording feature. With this feature, you will be able to leave a message for your pup and make it easier for him to be home alone.
Frequently Asked Questions
An automatic dog feeder does exactly what it says in the name. It helps you maintain a healthy eating schedule for your dog even if you often leave the house for more than a couple of hours, or manage effortless feeding for two and more dogs in your household.
A dog feeder releases the food to your dog at a preselected time, if it’s equipped with a timer, or when the bowl runs out of food, if it’s a gravity-operated model. Some feeders will even tell you when they are running low on food and will automatically order extra food online.
The price of an automatic dog feeder depends on the type and functionality of the device. The cheapest option is a gravity feeder, which can be purchased starting at $30-$40, while app-controlled, smart feeders can cost up to $200.
Standard gravity or vertically fed dog feeders can only work with dry dog food, as wet food may not be easy to feed through a vertical funnel. If you prefer to feed your dog wet or moist food, you should look for circular or clamshell dog feeders that are equipped with a lid — most of them are compatible with any dog food type.