Automatic Pet Food Dispenser: What to Know Before Buying

Automatic Pet Food Dispenser

As pet parents, all too often, we find we love our pets but are not crazy about having to constantly feed them? If so, an automatic pet food dispenser might be the solution for you! To ensure you’re getting the best automatic pet food dispenser for your needs, read on to learn more before buying one.

What Exactly Is An Automatic Pet Food Dispenser?

When it comes to our pets, one of the most important factors is ensuring they are getting the right amount of food at the correct feeding time, but feeding them can be a hassle, especially if you’re not home.

But there’s no need to feed your pet manually every time they eat – an automatic pet food dispenser can take care of that for you!

An automatic food dispenser will automatically dispense food multiple times a day at set times and with a predetermined amount of your dog’s food.

This prevents your pets from overeating or ending up with empty food bowls, and it also helps to keep track of their diet and eating habits.

You can also program these automated feeders so that they work with multiple pets, so if another dog eats more than its fair share of wet or dry dog food, your other pet won’t go hungry.

What Are The Benefits of A Pet Food Dispenser?

One of the benefits of having an automatic feeder is that you will no longer have to waste time pouring food into your pet’s bowl every day or even several times a day.

An automatic pet feeder will give your pet smaller meals throughout the day.

Depending on the dispenser, an auto feeder can hold enough dry food to keep your pet fed for a couple of days without you needing to refill the food container, aka a hopper. As you can imagine, multi pet households will find this a real time saver.

Most dispensers let you customize a regular feeding schedule so that your pets get their nutritional needs met at the right time.

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There are some dispensers that allow you to adjust the amount of food given to each dog according to their needs.

It’s easy to imagine how an automatic dog food dispenser  can help prevent mealtime stress for you and your canine companion.

Plus, an added benefit is the peace of mind that your pet will be fed whether you’re home or not.

Types Of Automatic Pet Feeders

There are several types of automatic feeders out there. The most popular food dispensers are:

Plate Feeders

Plate feeders have multiple compartments. The separate compartments are filled with the type and portion of food you decide on. The plate rotates and allows your pet one section at a time based on what you have programmed into the feeder. A benefit to this type of feeder is that it allows for different foods and treats.

Programmable Feeders

Programmable feeders allow you to set multiple times for scheduled feedings instead of your pet having access to all the food for the day at one time.

Smart Feeders

Smart feeders come with a smartphone app allowing you remote access to the feeder. With the app, you can schedule feeding times and portions.

The main difference between smart feeders and programmable feeders is the ability to have remote access to programming and the feeder.

What To Consider Before Buying A Food Dispenser

Choosing the right pet food dispenser can be confusing, especially if you are unfamiliar with the different features available. When deciding on an automatic pet food dispenser, you should look at several features.

Availability of an App

  • An app allows caregivers to remotely track their pet’s diet.
  • With some apps, you can adjust the number of meals per day based on a picky eater or risk of obesity; set feeding times; get food estimates, and more.
  • Some apps inform you when your pet eats outside their regular meals.

Battery Backup

  • Many auto feeders come with a battery power backup in case of power outages. This can be helpful if you’re away from your home and don’t want to worry about your pet running out of food.

Ease of Cleaning

  • The design of the pet food dispenser should be sleek and easy to clean so that you don’t have to spend time cleaning up after every time he or she eats.
  • Some pet feeders are hand wash only, so if you prefer using a dishwasher, look for a dispenser that is dishwasher safe. However, there is a possibility because of the electrical components that, you won’t be able to wash the entire dispenser or submerge it in water.

Easy Programming

  • Look for an automatic pet feeder that has programming that is easy to understand.
  • If the dog feeder is too hard for you to program, it is probably best to look for another model. If you find the programming too hard, you risk not using the dispenser, and it then becomes a garage sale item or tucked away in a cupboard.
  • If you find the automatic feeders too difficult to use, an alternative is a gravity feeder. With gravity feeders, you fill the container with food, and it is dispensed into the bowl. When food is eaten, it is replaced by more food being released from the container.
    • The downside to gravity feeders is there is no programming of meals. I find I
    • need to refill my gravity feeder about once a week with three small dogs.

Food Compatibility

  • Be sure to consider the dispenser’s compatibility with your pet’s diet. Will it dispense only dry kibble when your pet will only eat wet food? Something to consider.
  • Wet food dog feeders will usually have a refrigerated base or ice packs to keep wet food from spoiling. You cannot put canned food in a dog feeder designed for dry dog food.
  • To maintain wet dog food from spoiling, wet food dog feeders will normally have a refrigerated base or come with one or two ice packs. It’s important to note that if a dog feeder is meant for dry food, you cannot put wet food; you run the risk of the food going bad and/or your pet getting sick.


  • Most feeders come in multiple sizes so that you can choose one that is appropriate for your pet’s size and frequency of feedings. Whether you want one to dispense 1 cup, 4 cups, 5 cups, or more, look for the right capacity for your dog’s needs.
  • While small dogs will do fine with a small-capacity dispenser, large dogs will need a much larger dispenser.

Ease of Use

  • The food dispenser should be easy to set up and use.

Portion Control

  • Food portion control is a favorite amongst pet owners who know from experience that it helps reduce the amount of food eaten by their pets.

Preset Meal Times

  • Some machines offer preset meal times, which can be helpful if you work full-time and want to feed your pet at a set time every day or multiple times throughout the day.


  • The cost of an automatic food dispenser varies greatly depending on its features. Be sure to look at the features you want and shop around to get the best deal.


  • Most dispensers come with a remote control, which makes it easy to operate from across the room. Some also have sensors that detect your pet’s eating.


  • It’s important to read reviews before making a purchase. Some people find glitches with their machines after purchase and will report them in reviews. Reviews will alert you to what other customers have experienced and think about the product.

Time Delay

  • Auto-reset or time delay feeder feature, so you don’t have to keep watch over your pet all day.

Toxicity Free

  • Many dispensers use BPA free material to help keep toxins away from your pet.

Water Indicator

  • Allows you to keep an eye on how much water your pet is taking in at any time.


How much do automatic pet food dispensers cost?

There are a variety of automatic pet food dispensers available on the market, and they range in price. However, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $1,000+ depending on features and brand. So if you’re interested in purchasing one, shop around and compare prices before making a decision.

Do automatic pet food dispensers require regular maintenance?

Most machines that offer automated feeding do not require ongoing maintenance. You may need to clean the water reservoir or the device if it becomes clogged with food or debris. I personally clean mine either when the food is empty before refilling and more often if needed.

Can I use a pet food dispenser for my cat?

Absolutely, many food dispensers state that they can be used for a variety of animals, including cats. You can also purchase a dispenser advertised specifically as a cat feeder that will dispense cat food, much like a dog food dispenser.

How do I train my pet to use an automatic dog feeder?

Most dogs won’t need a lot of training to use a pet feeder, especially if they are food motivated. But if your dog does need some coxing, putting a special treat in the dispenser and a lot of positive reinforcement will do wonders.

I have one dog that would get afraid of the water dispenser because as it would refill the bowl, it would make noise, much like a Sparklett’s water bottle does. He was a little skittish with it for a few days but became used to the noise and now has no problem drinking from it.

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Where Can You Buy Automatic Pet Food Dispensers?

After reading about food dispensers, you might be wondering where you can buy one.

Many retail and online stores carry them. Amazon is just one retailer that carries these food dispensers.


As we found, an automatic dog feeder is a nifty device that automatically provides your pet with the correct amount of food, allowing you more time to relax and enjoy them. No more having to worry if they will miss meals if you’re away from home. With that being said, an auto dog feeder should not eliminate a pet sitter or doggy daycare.

Remember, even though you have an automatic feeder and your pet is supplied with food, fresh water is still needed.

Pet parents will find that with all the models on the market, you should be able to find the best automatic dog feeder that fits your needs, whether you want to use wet or dry food or treats. But before buying one, consider the factors listed above in Automatic Pet Food Dispenser: What to Know Before Buying and decide if an automatic pet feeder is right for you and your pet.

What are your thoughts on automatic feeders? Is an automatic feeder something you can see yourself using? Please comment below.

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