Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid leaving a dog alone for a few hours. During that time they will, of course, need their food and unless you have someone coming round to visit them, don’t expect the food that you lay down to last more than about five minutes! So, how can you control the amount of food that is available to your dog so it doesn’t eat it all in one go? Well, the answer lies in automatic dog feeders.
The problem I had when I was originally looking was the shear amount of dog feeders out there. There are several similar but packaged differently and some that are ridiculously expensive and actually do less than those half the price. There are some that appear good on paper but are, quite frankly, rubbish.
So, I wrote this brief article to save you the hassle that I originally went through. After buying three of these and sending the first two back because they didn’t work as advertised (or broke after two days), I can present you with my favorite choices. There’s only a couple here as, quite frankly, there’s no point showing you anymore. You won’t go wrong with either of these but look below for the reason why I chose my particular favorite!
Best Automatic Dog Feeder for Dogs
Westlink Automatic Food Dispenser
The Westlink food dispenser for dogs is a great bit of kit. If you like your tech you’ll like the look of this thing with its front display and many buttons to press (which do actually have a purpose!) Don’t think that makes it too complex for someone who isn’t ‘tech savy’ to use though! One of my favorite things about the Westlink was how easy it was to set-up. It’s packed with features also. Take a look at some of the capabilities of this feeder:
- Capacity – the Westlink has a large capacity of 6 liters, which should equate to about 4 meals a day. You will probably never need it to dispense this amount of meals but it’s nice to know you have the option if one day you do.
- Voice Recorder – this is one of those things that made this feeder really stand out. You can record around 10 seconds of your voice which will play back when required. So, when it is time for dinner you can have it play something like, “Din-Dins is ready, come and get it!”. Or, you can really freak your little doggy out by recording a meow sound. If you do this, be prepared for your house to not be in one piece when you get back though!
- Good Power Options – another thing I liked about this feeder was the fact that you could either power it with D-class batteries or just via USB, which I loved. Of course, that will mean you’ll need a USB port somewhere near where they typically eat, which might not always be the case.
- Infra-red Food Detection – if your dogs aren’t eating the food that’s been put down for them, with a lot of these feeders the next lot will just pile up on top and you’ll potentially get home to just a big mound of dry food. What this does though is it will detect whether there is any food still in the bowl and if there is quite a bit, it simply won’t serve another portion until it is gone.
- Feedback – the Westlink gets some fantastic reviews from a lot of people. It is actually this that originally made me give it a go in the first place.
One thing to bear in mind with this feeder is related to the portion size. Although it claims to be able to deliver four portions a day, which it can indeed do, each portion size is small in my opinion. Each portion is about 10 grams but you can have each meal dispense just 1 portion or up to 39! So this doesn’t present a problem in real life – you just need to work out how many portions your dog will need.
If you’d like to check out the latest price of the Westlink Automatic Dog Feeder, then do either click on the image or on the link, they both open in a new window.
PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog Feeder
Another choice for you is this PetSafe Smart Feeder. Being a bit of a nerd I like anything that tries to embrace the latest tech – but only if it actually works! This feeder did work and it worked very well, which is why I can happily share the details with you today. This feeder isn’t just a gimmick though, look at what it can do for you:
- Use your phone – yes, you can remotely control your dog’s feeding using your phone! It works with either the iPhone or Android – and it actually works!
- Meal scheduling – you can program up to 12 meals a day and each meal can be of a different size to suit your dog.
- Alerting – you can remotely receive alerts through your phone so you can monitor your dog’s feeding. You can also remotely initiate a feeding session via your phone!
- Easy to maintain – another thing I liked was how I could just pop the main components into the dishwasher for cleaning.
- Smart Feeder – if your dog is the type that gulps down food when they get it too quick (I think that relates to just about all of them) then you can easily program this feeder to slowly release the portion over a 15-minute window to prevent this behavior.
- Failure notifications – in the unlikely situation where the food becomes jammed (this can happen in all automatic pet feeders) it will send an alert to your phone so you are aware.
- Feedback – this is a product that’s been out there for a little while now and has been accepted positively by the community, it has some great reviews.
If you’d like to check out the price of the PetSafe Smart Feeder, then click on the link – you won’t be disappointed! Note that both methods will open a new tab.
Buy the PetSafe Automatic Pet Feeder!
Firstly, let’s get something straight. These are both great pet feeders and if you get either, you won’t be disappointed. It was really difficult to say one was better than the other but if I had to recommend just one, which is what I’m doing, I would suggest you buy the PetSafe automatic feeder. So, let me explain why I went for this, rather than the almost-equally excellent WestLink feeder.
- The PetSafe automatic feeder could be programmed to deliver 12 meals a day, compared to the 4 with the Westlink.
- The PetSafe can deliver portions over time, which can really help if you have a dog that guzzles down the food as soon as they see it.
- I really liked the fact that you could clean the PetSafe so easily. The key components can come to bits easily and will fit inside your dishwasher.
- The support you get with the PetSafe (which is US based) is apparently very good, although I’ve never needed to use it!
- Finally, and this is the thing that did it for me – the fact that you can control and monitor it all remotely via your phone. I just love this and the software just works really well.
- Price – considering what you get, this is a good value for money.
The only way I think you could improve on the design would be for them to include a little camera in the feeder also. Wouldn’t that be cool? That way, you could not only remotely schedule feeds using your app but you could remotely view them.
One thing I preferred about the Westlink was that you could record a 10 second clip and play it back at feeding time. I thought this was a really nice feature.
So, in summary – if I had to recommend one, it would be the PetSafe but if you’re not into your phones then you may be better suited for the PetSafe, they are both really good products!
What to Look for When Buying an Automatic Dog Feeder
I have this problem a lot when looking for products online. There’s so much choice and so many similar products you really don’t know what to choose and more often that not you leave without actually buying anything! So, this is why it helps when you know that someone has already bought the item, used it and can tell you it actually does what it should. However, when I was looking originally there were a few things I was after in the product:
- Cost – typically, you usually get what you pay for. If something is very cheap then there’s probably a good reason for it and you tend to see this in the associated reviews. If the product is too much, especially with a dog feeder then they’re probably trying to make a quick buck. There’s only so many features you can have on one of these and you really don’t need to pay several hundred dollars for one.
- Amount of meals per day – depending on how long you’re going to be away from home will dictate how many meals it will need to distribute a day. Obviously, the more meals it can provide, the more options it gives you.
- Ease of use – if it’s too complex to use, you’ll stop using it. It needs to be a product that can be programmed quickly. Also, I didn’t want it to be accidentally activated (by your dog for instance).
- Capacity- there needs to be enough storage space to last the amount of time you’re going to be out of the house. There are several automatic feeders that claim to be for both dogs and cats but in reality, they’re better suited just for felines.
- Reviews – the product had to have a reasonable amount of good reviews for me to look at it in the first place. I wanted to be able to recommend an established product that has been widely tested and given a number of positive reviews.
- Tech – does the product utilize technology? If it does, does it do it well? It shouldn’t have loads of buttons and lights just for the sake of it. The technology needs to give you something that you couldn’t get if the tech wasn’t there. An example of this is utilizing smartphones and being able to control the device remotely.
Sometimes it’s difficult recommending products when there are so many on the market. However, when I started to do some research at a few other products to see what the competition, I was quite shocked at how many similar items are available. What I found odd was the number of products that were identical but just labelled up different.
I suspect the original was made in China and then the manufacturer licensed others to use that product and label it as theirs. It’s a minefield though as they don’t only label them differently but price them differently also, for the same product!
Anyway, I hope I’ve made it easy for you. Obviously, I had my own experiences but I didn’t just leave it there. I had a look at what else was available as well as asking other owners for their opinion. Based on all this research, I felt quite comfortable in the end that I’m suggesting a product that you won’t be disappointed with!
Finally, if you’re in need of a great dog tracker – then check out my article all about it!