Best Automatic Pet Feeders 2022

Staff, Courtesy of Arf Pets

Cats and dogs thrive on routine, but long work days and hectic schedules can make it nearly impossible to keep meal times consistent. Automatic pet feeders dispense the perfect amount of food at scheduled times so you don’t have to worry about rushing home to feed your monsters.

Even better, if your pet is among the more than 50 percent of cats and dogs in the United States who are overweight or obese, according to the Society for Pet Obesity Prevention, an automatic pet feeding system may help them regain their normal shape. You can program the feeder to perfectly distribute the measured portions. Unlike humans, pet feeders are never fainted for extra help by these “eyes of little dogs,” nor can they be tricked into offering a second dinner, as often happens when family members fail to communicate that the pet has already been fed.

You can choose from several types of feeders to meet your pet’s food needs. Smart feeders allow you to adjust your pet’s meal schedule remotely and even dispense snacks from your phone, and some even have a built-in camera so you can take your pet with you at any time. Other feeders do not use an app, but they do have useful capabilities such as keeping wet food refrigerated, or allowing access to a specific pet using microchip identification.

Best Automatic Pet Feeders

Expert: When I’m not testing, reviewing, or obsessing pet products, I spend time with my three friends: Matilda the dog, the cow, and Sabrina the cat. Like you, I am a picky pet parent who always wants the best for my four legged family members. When I tested some of the most popular pet feeders, I looked for the specs and features that make meal times easy for you and fun for your pet.

What to consider with automatic pet feeders

food type

The majority of automatic feeders work best with dry kibble, but a select few can serve canned, raw, or cooked food. Wet food can stay at room temperature for up to four hours, but if you’re going to be away longer than that, you’ll need a feeder that can be outfitted with an ice bag to keep food fresh all day long.

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eligibility

Once dry pet food is opened, it can become stale, even if stored in a feeder tank. Your pet’s feeder should contain no more than three to six weeks of food. There are approximately four cups of food per pound of dry food, depending on the size of the kibble. For “baby only” cats and dogs under 25 pounds, buy small bags (4 to 6 pounds) of food every few weeks, which fit well with a 24-cup feeder.

Regulations

Some automatic feeders have buttons so you can set them manually, while others are programmed using a smartphone app. Manual controls are ideal if you want a family member, friend, or pet sitter to change settings without downloading an app, but the app allows you to control the feeder and get alerts from your phone when you’re not home. Most of these pet feeders have battery backup power options, so you won’t have to worry if your furry friend will be feeding during a power outage.

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overall better

Wesker Robot Feeder

Best budget choice

Healthy pet food station for pets

Compatible with Amazon Alexa

Smart Pet Feeding

Better with manual controls

PetMate Gamma 2 Nano Automatic Feeder

Keeps fresh foods refrigerated

Cat Mate Automatic Digital Pet Feeder

Best for multi-pet homes

SurePet SureFeed Pet Microchip Feeder

Best color choice

Dogness Mini Smart Automatic Pet Feeder

Doubles as Pet Cam

Arf Pets Smart Pet Feeder with HD Camera

Expert Lindsay Pevny on Pet Feeders: No, It’s Not Supposed to Replace You, and Yes, One Can Fits Multiple Pets

eveningWhat should pet parents know about automated pet feeders?

LP: These devices are not designed to replace you. While they are great for keeping your pets fed on time, it’s best not to use them at every meal. Pets, especially cats, need moisture in their diet, and dry kibble does not provide that. When you’re home, offer high-moisture foods like wet food, or try extras like bone broth to keep your pets’ health at its best. Also watch how much your pets eat, as changes in appetite can be an early sign of a health problem.

eveningHow do you keep the automatic pet feeder clean?

LP: Always clean the tank thoroughly between refills or every four weeks, whichever comes first. Dry foods contain oils that can build up on the sides of any storage container and harbor bacteria that can make your pet sick. Don’t forget to clean every washable part, including the bowl. If you only use it at busy times or while on vacation, make sure the feeder is clean and empty during long stretches without use.

eveningCan I use an automatic feeder for multiple pets?

LP: Anytime you leave multiple pets alone with food, there is a chance that they will quarrel. If your pets are prone to guarding resources, you will need multiple feeders, ideally separated by a pet gate or in separate rooms. If you trust your pets to share, some feeders, including the PetSafe Smart Feed, can be used with a splitting kit, sold separately. It comes with two bowls and a divider so your pets can eat together without crowding around one bowl.

evening: Does the feeder retain its programmed settings if it is turned off or the batteries are changed?

LP: If the feeder is unplugged but has spare batteries, or if it has smart features and requires WiFi access, it will keep your mealtime settings.

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