Do Automatic Dog Feeders Actually Work
Photo: PetSafe


s technology advances and the popularity of pet ownership continues to grow, it is no wonder that the two fields are combining.

As the worlds collide, they will provide dog owners with incredible technology, pet gadgets, and innovative dog products.

Dog automatic feeders are one of the most valuable pieces of dog tech we've seen. 

They are designed to make our lives easier and less hectic, but do automatic dog feeders work?

Similarly to most other dog supplies, there are different varieties of automatic dog food feeders. 

Some of them dispense pet food using gravity, and others are electronic. 

They have a larger capacity for dog food than a single bowl

They are ideal for people whose schedules require them to be away from their pets at feeding time or for those who simply want to spend less time filling Fido's food bowls. 

In addition to automatic feeders for dogs, owners can also purchase automatic waterers or water fountains for dogs.

Gravity-style” dog automatic feeders and waterers are usually suitable for pets that do well with unrestricted access to their food. 

If your dogs can freely eat without gorging themselves, a gravity-style automatic dog feeder would work well. 

The capacity of these feeders easily allows for several days' worth of dog food to be stored, and they are typically less expensive than electronic feeders.

Many electronic automatic feeders allow you to serve single meals with portion control. 

Golden Retriever standing beside an automatic feeder from WOPET
Photo: WOPET

They are served at times that you will set on a programmable timer. This allows your pet to eat at scheduled intervals and helps to prevent overeating. Automatic dog waterers or water fountains circulate the water continuously through a carbon filter to remove impurities. 

They store more water than traditional dog bowls and help keep your dog's water cooler and fresher while minimizing bacterial growth.

RELATED: Regular dog food bowl or an elevated bowl?

An automatic dog feeder is usually structured somewhat like a gumball machine.

There is one large compartment that stores your dog's food and another smaller, dish-like container where the food goes into and is available to the dog. 

Automatic dog feeders primarily work with dry dog food, but some units can also accommodate wet dog food diets.

Do automatic dog feeders actually work?

The simple answer to this question is yes; indeed, automatic dog feeders work very well with pets, both dogs and cats.

There are so many different styles of automatic dog feeders to choose from that you are sure to find an item that will meet your individual dog's needs. 

Though occasionally somewhat expensive, automatic dog feeders have significant advantages and benefits over regular dog bowls.

The most beneficial aspect of automatic pet feeders is controlling the timing and amount of food dispensed into the bowl. 

If your dog has a weight problem or is on a specific diet for health reasons, an automatic dog feeder will help.

The feeder is designed so that the scheduling and portions of feedings remain steady in both timing and the amount of food provided.

Let's talk about pet obesity and how automatic dog feeders can help fight this rapidly growing problem in the U.S.

Although less-expensive feeders tend to operate without using a timer (they function by refilling the bowl once it is empty), this could easily lead to overeating by your dog. 

Many different breeds have the potential for weight issues. 

When there is a constant stream of pet food available to them, it could lead to weight gain and serious health problems.

RELATED: Dog Nutrition 101: How to Feed a Dog

According to many dog experts and dog breed information websites, breeds that are most prone to weight gain issues include:

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Pugs
  • Dachsunds
  • English Bulldogs
  • Beagles
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Rottweilers
  • Golden Retrievers

A 2012 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that…

93 million dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight.

Do Automatic Dog Feeders Actually Work
Photo: Aspen Pet Products

Pet obesity is a health hazard to pets as it is to people. 

Overweight canines are more prone to many scary health conditions, including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Heart and Respiratory Disease
  • Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
  • Kidney Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Many Different Forms of Cancer
  • Up to 2.5 years shorter lifespan

Automated feeders do have a place for these two reasons: 

  • Regulate the amount of food your puppy to help maintain an average weight
  • Transferring the duty of feeding to a machine (possibly solving a behavioral problem)

If you think about it, this automated portion control mirrors strictly what trainers and nutritionists recommend to people for healthier dietary habits.

Your dogs get to eat more often, but in smaller portions, and eat on a set schedule throughout the day.

RELATED: Ten Best Grain-Free Dog Food Brands

Consistency is an essential factor when it comes to preserving your canine's health and maintaining adequate proportions.

A dog must always be on a level feeding schedule—same time daily, the same amount at each feeding time.

That way, the food intake is structured, and any changes that need to be made to the dog's diet will generally be easy to program.

It will take just a few clicks of a button on the automatic dog feeder.

A gravity-style feeder could work if your dog has self-control or doesn't overeat.

However, not many dogs can ignore food when it is laid out in front of them.

The 5 Best Automatic Dog Feeders [Best-Sellers]

Black pet food dispenser with dog food inside

  1. PetSafe 5 Meal Automatic Pet Feeder
  2. PetSafe Automatic 2 Meal Pet Feeder
  3. Qpets Automatic Pet Feeder
  4. Aspen Pet Lebistro Programmable Food Dispenser
  5. PETLIBRO Automatic Feeder

* The above top 5 picks for best-selling automatic dog feeders are based on Amazon’s current Best Seller ranks [September 2022].

Automatic dog feeders are more expensive but come with various valuable features.

Generally, electronic feeders for dogs are battery-powered. 

The amount of pet food dispensed and the timing varies depending on what setting you place it in. 

For example, you could have an automatic feeder that dispenses ½ a cup of dog food three times per day or one that dispenses two cups of food twice a day. 

It all depends on the size and breed of your pet.

Some automatic dog feeders offer really unique and fascinating additions. 

While these new additions might cost you a few more bucks, they'll also make your life a little simpler and, in some cases, make your dog's life a little bit happier.

For example, you can, in some feeders, record a several-second message for your dog that plays for them when they go to eat their food. 

If you're an owner who is away from home frequently, this might help your dog feel less lonely throughout the day during mealtime.

Other less common additions to automatic feeders include an LCD screen and displays.

The display shows you the time and helps you program a feeding schedule for days (sometimes weeks) in advance. 

Specific versions of dog automatic feeders offer a built-in water bottle for the dog so that they can access water when needed.

RELATED: How to Read Dog Food Labels

Other essential features to consider when purchasing an automatic dog feeder are convenience and cleanliness. 

The dog feeder is a storage container, and thus, it probably doesn't need to be washed very often, but it shouldn't be left alone for months, either.

Purchasing an automatic dog feeder that can be easily disassembled and put in the dishwasher or quickly hand-washed will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Automatic dog feeders should also be convenient because they need to fit the space you have available. 

Since your feeder will likely be going in your kitchen or dining space, choose the size of a feeder that is appropriate to your spatial needs. 

You can find feeders in many different shapes and sizes, so just shop for one that meets your needs.

Also, make sure to choose a feeder that is acceptable for the size of your dog. 

Large pet feeders that can store up to fifty cups of pet food are better for houses with multiple dogs

In contrast, a smaller version would suffice for tinier breeds.

The 5 Best Dog Water Fountains [Best-Sellers]

Little dog drinking from white water fountain

  1. PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain
  2. Pioneer Pet Stainless Steel Fountain Drinking Fountain
  3. ZEUS Fresh & Clear Drinking Fountain
  4. PetSafe Drinkwell Multi-Tier Pet Fountain
  5. Drinkwell 360 Multi-Pet Drinking Fountain

* The above top 5 picks for best-selling dog water fountains are based on Amazon’s current Best Seller ranks [September 2022].

Even the best dog automatic feeders are not a perfect solution.

Although automatic dog feeders work well and are convenient and great for many reasons, it's important to note one particular warning: these feeders are not foolproof.

As with any technology, malfunctions and breakdowns in the system are possible. 

Because the concept is still relatively new, these dog technologies are prone to errors that will only be fixed with time and experience, thanks to trial and error.

RELATED: Cheap and healthy dog food brands

However, don't rely solely on these automatic dog feeders to care for your pet.

You should be home and occasionally check in to ensure that the feeder operates well. 

As long as you aren't gone for more than 4 hours.

The last thing anyone would want is a hungry dog, an overflowed food bowl, and a dog that eats until he's sick.

What you should know before buying an automatic pet feeder for your dog

If you believe an automatic feeder will be appropriate for your pets, consider what I will talk about next.

Brown and white dog eating from an autoamtic feeder by Petlibro

As you can see above, you have many options for automatic feeders to choose from. Still, whether you select a gravity-style or an electronic feeder, you need to be sure it will meet the needs of the animals in your home.

Think about your pets and how they behave at feeding time.

How many dogs do you have? 

Are they competitive at feeding time? 

You may need to purchase more than one feeder and separate them. 

For example, if you have a dog and a cat that fight over food, you may need to buy two pet feeders and put your cat feeder in a location that your dog cannot get to.

Think about the size, strength, and determination of your dog. 

Some less expensive automatic feeders for pets have simple plastic hoppers that sit on top of the dish or screw in lightly. 

If your dog is determined to get that extra bit of food, he may try to tip the hopper over and dump out the rest of the dog food. 

You'll probably have to select an all-metal feeder explicitly built to keep piggish dogs out.

Check to see what size of animal the feeder is built for.

Some automatic pet feeders are only built for cats or tiny toy dog breeds.

If you'd like to feed your medium-sized or large breed dog with an automatic feeder, you will need to buy one that is built for their size, or it may not hold or dispense enough food for them.

RELATED: How Future Dog Technology Will Affect Pet Parents

Do automatic dog feeders actually work? Summary

Now you understand that your dog's eating is often the center of attention.

But did you know that it is also essential to monitor how he eats?

Healthy food and nourishment are always more beneficial when paired with a structured and controlled feeding plan that considers the dog's needs and the owner's schedule. 

Electronic automatic pet feeders are a great tool to help you set up and stick to a feeding schedule for your dog.

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Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.