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Mealtime is my dogs’ favorite time of day, but to be honest, sometimes my schedule makes it difficult to feed them at their preferred times. In the past, pet parents might have put out an extra food bowl if they were going to be gone through mealtime. But in my house, that extra food would be gone as soon as I turned my back, and a doggy stomachache would soon follow.
In this day and age, technology can help! Automatic dog food dispensers portion out meals for your pets according to a pre-programmed schedule.
They’re especially useful for dogs with specific dietary needs who have to eat the same amount of food at the same feeding times each day.
What should you look for in an automatic pet food dispenser?
Some automatic feeders are fairly simple, dispensing two meals a day. Others offer more servings and more complex features.
- Sturdy design that can’t be easily tipped over
- Easy programming
- An easy-to-clean hopper (food container) and bowl
- The ability to schedule multiple meals and adjustable portion sizes
With that in mind, we’ve researched the most popular, reliable automatic food dispensers available. Here are our picks for the eight best automatic dog food dispensers.
Best Simple Programmable Food Dispenser
- Stainless steel bowl is hygienic and easy to clean
- Runs on batteries, so no electric cords to trip over or pose a hazard for chew-curious dogs
- Online reviewers love the slow feed mode that dispenses food slowly to prevent rapid eating
- Programming procedure is tricky; keep the manual on-hand!
- Super-smart pups may be able to nudge the unit and cause extra food to fall out
Most helpful review: “I have a rescue dog who had starved on the streets for a while before we found each other. He’s always been stressed about getting fed on time, and keeps us all on a clock…this gizmo COMPLETELY ELIMINATED his STRESS about getting fed.”Buy Now on Amazon for $134.95 Buy Now on Chewy for $134.95
Best “Smart” Dry Food Dispenser
If you’re looking for something truly futuristic, look no further than this app-connected “smart” feeder with a built-in webcam. The WOPet SmartFeeder can be programmed for up to four meals a day, and online reviewers praise its quick and easy setup (though it helps if you’re already tech-savvy).
- Reviewers love the voice record function, which lets you program a personal message for your dog to hear at mealtime
- Relatively easy to program
- Timed meals help train dogs to eat more slowly, potentially preventing common digestive issues
- Compatible with iOS and Android phones
- Some reviewers note difficulty maintaining wifi connection
- Unclear if app will continue to update with upcoming smartphone software
Most helpful review: “Bought this for my Golden Retriever and it is BRILLIANT. He used to have antacids from reflux as a result of bolting his food and we tried everything, from feeders you fill that roll around and dispense food to bowls that are like mazes – nope. No deal. But this one has stopped his tummy problems.”Buy Now on Amazon for $169.99
Best Automatic Dry/Wet Food Dispenser
Many of the most popular automatic food dispensers on the market are for kibble only. But if your dog relies on canned or wet food, you need a dispenser that can handle the mush. The Mingzheng Automatic Food and Water Feeder is a state-of-the-art automatic food dispenser that easily handles kibble and canned food. It has six separate compartments to dispense meals, snacks, and/or medications, and reviewers love how easy and reliable it is. And it comes with a ton of bonus “smart” features, including a “call your dog” voice recorder and a built-in programmable timer.
- Easy to program
- Attractive, modern appearance
- Food tray is dishwasher safe
- Food compartments are a bit small for big eaters, holding only 1 cup each. But you can always schedule two “meals” in a row!
Most helpful review: “I love these and so does my dog! the food I only have to fill about every 4 or 5 days and the water more frequently at 2 or 3 days. They look just as they should and do exactly as stated. Arrived within the projected time frame. I would recommend these and would purchase again if needed!”Buy Now on Amazon for $41.99
Most Affordable Gravity Feeder
This one is pretty low-tech. In fact, it’s no-tech, but gravity feeders are an old-school “automatic” option that works. Simply fill the food hopper and let gravity do its job, pouring food into the attached bowl and refilling as the bowl empties. Gravity feeders won’t work for dogs who can’t stop eating (like my two piggy Pit bulls). But if your dog is a grazer, this throwback “automatic” dog feeder may be for you!
- Simple to use, just fill the storage hopper and go
- Available in a variety of sizes
- Easy to clean; the parts can even go in the dishwasher
- Fully analog, so there’s no “off” function. Only appropriate for dogs who graze and won’t overeat.
- Some reviewers complain that larger kibbles get stuck in the opening between hopper and bowl
Most helpful review: “Got this for my senior dog who is losing her sight. It’s big enough that she sees it, easily eats from it, and can’t accidentally knock it over.”Buy Now on Amazon for $14.50 Buy Now on Chewy for $14.50
Best Feeder for Multi-Pet Households
If you have more than one pet at home, this SureFlap microchip pet feeder is the solution to ensuring that each of your animals is fed. To do this, the feeder scans the pet’s microchip or the included RFID collar tag and only opens for that specific pet. This ensures that another dog or cat won’t end up stealing the food.
- Accommodates both wet or dry food
- Although one pet per feeder is recommended, the feeder can work with multiple collar tags
- Small capacity of about 2.5 cups so best-suited for smaller dogs
- Hand-wash only
Most helpful review: “The price was a little hard to swallow, but it has been worth every penny. It does exactly what is advertised and hasn’t failed us once so far!”Buy Now on Amazon for $149.99 Buy Now on Chewy for $149.99
Best Automatic Feeder For Large Dogs
Not only does this SereneLife automatic pet feeder have a large capacity of six liters (or about 24 cups), it also comes with two hoppers, including a larger-sized one to accommodate bigger pieces of kibble. This makes it ideal for larger breed dogs, as other hoppers can become clogged with bigger kibble sizes.
- Built-in voice recorder notifies your dog for each meal with a personalized voice recording
- Can dispense up to four meals per days
- Made of BPA-free plastic
- Two power supply options
- Some reviewers have complained that the portion sizes aren’t consistent
Most helpful review: “We’ve been using this to feed our chocolate Lab. At this moment we give it a 5-star rating because it is working wonderfully. The dispensing of the food is perfect and the machine is so quiet. We use large breed dog food and there has been no problem at all. The set up was also very easy.”Buy Now on Amazon for $78.99
Best Automatic Feeder For Under $100
You’d be hard-pressed to find an automatic dog feeder that offers as much value as this Arf Pets one at such a reasonable price.
It dispenses up to 2-tablespoons to 1-cup of kibble for each meal. This makes it great for managing portion control for each meal, as you can precisely set it for the exact amount you want on the feeder’s LCD screen. You can also set a 10-second voice recording that will call your dog to eat. These features, as well as the feeder’s simple and sleek design, make it our top pick for an automatic dog feeder under $100.
- Magnetic lock lid to keep pets out and food fresh
- Runs on either batteries or a power cable
- Easy to clean with a dishwasher-safe tray
- Some reviewers have found that the feeder will dispense a small amount of kibble if jostled or moved around by pet
Most helpful review: “I like the convenience and knowing that my dogs will be fed even if I’m running late or need to be away for a few nights. Just got back from a 10-day trip and I’m very happy to report the pet feeder worked perfectly. Had someone stop by every 2-3 days to ensure all was well – and it was!”Buy Now on Amazon for $89.99 Buy Now on Chewy for $89.99
Best Gravity Dog Feeder And Waterer Combo
Since dogs need water as much as they need food, this AmazonBasics self-dispensing gravity pet feeder and waterer is a perfect combination product that will keep your dog well-fed and hydrated. Like other gravity feeders, you’ll simply need to refill the water and kibble containers, and gravity will keep the bowls at the bottom filled. Since there’s no timer, the food and water will be on offer 24/7, making this feeder ideal for grazers but not for dogs who are prone to over-eating.
- Holds up to 12 pounds of dry dog food and 2.5 gallons of water
- Non-skid rubber feet keep the feeders from moving around
- Must be hand-washed only
- Water may spill out of the bowl if your dog is a messy drinker
Most helpful review: “I’m very happy with these dog bowls, even more so with the water bowl as it has allowed ease of including a breath freshener and tooth cleaner in Mickey’s water that wasn’t there with a regular water bowl. I don’t have to fill it up on a constant basis, which is nice. One thing that’s frustrating is that the water goes right up to the very edge of the bowl and does result in a lot of unwanted splashing. They’re compact and easy to move or carry if need be.”Buy Now on Amazon for $26.69
Potential Drawbacks for Automatic Dog Food Dispensers
- Like any gadget, an automatic pet feeder has the potential to malfunction. This could leave your dog without any food. And while some more expensive feeders utilize an app to let you know when your dog eats, you may not be immediately aware of a malfunction with a more basic unit. That’s why we don’t recommend that pet owners rely on an automatic feeder for long trips away.
- While many feeders are pet-proof, they’re not insect-proof and could attract bugs or other pests.
Benefits of Automatic Dog Food Dispensers
- The biggest benefit of an automatic dog food dispenser in the convenience. You only need to refill it every few days. This saves you both time and energy.
- Because they work on timers, automatic pet feeder can feed your dog on your preferred schedule and helps make it easier to maintain a regular feeding schedule. This is especially convenient if your dog is an early riser and likes to eat breakfast while you’re still sleeping. And unlike a person, an automatic feeder will never “forget” to feed your pet.