Right on time: the best automatic pet feeders for dinner delivery

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  • We all want to be there for our dog all the time. But it isn’t always possible. Late finishes at work, children’s parents’ meetings, an evening showjumping class with your horse all may conspire against us, with the result that we aren’t there at our dog’s meal time. Or, the dog who is starving at daybreak, and you simply don’t want to get out of bed, or the neighbours to be woken up at 5am. Dogs may not wear watches but they definitely know when it’s time for their grub. The best automatic pet feeders will have a timer so that you can set exactly when you want the meal provided. Some sync with your smartphone, so that you can control them remotely, and they monitor how much your dog is eating.

    Of course, all responsible dog owners will ensure their dog is not left alone for long periods, but whoever is keeping them company may not want to be bothered with feeding him as well – and the automatic dispenser can do that job for them, without anyone having to worry about amounts or timings.

    Dogs love a routine, but the best automatic pet feeders aren’t just useful in this regard. For dogs that wolf down their food in seconds, a dispenser that “drip-feeds” their meal over, say, a 15-minute period is a great option to stop them getting indigestion. It will have a similar effect to using one of the best dog slow feeder bowls but it’s also handy if you’re trying to control your dog’s weight as you can monitor the exact amount of food.

    Some dispensers have the facility for you to record a voice message, summoning your dog to his feed bowl. Or you can interact with your dog through a microphone and speaker, and watch him on an integrated camera. Feeding time is typically a bonding time for your dog, so it’s best if you can be there in person, but this is the next best thing and ensures your dog won’t be left waiting for his dinner when you have a busy day.

    While automatic dispensers are usually marketed with kibble, some are designed to work with wet or dry food, but this should not be assumed if you want to feed raw or wet food.

    Best automatic pet feeders for dogs

    Petlibro Vacuum-Sealed Automatic Feeder

    Petlibro Vacuum-Sealed Automatic Feeder

    Capacity: 8l | Feed type: Kibble, freeze-dried or air dried | RRP: £219.99 |

    Designed originally for cats, this is also appropriate for dogs and the feeding bowl is plenty large enough. It combines automated feeding with vacuum food storage, meaning the food is kept super fresh and crispy and prevents mould and bacteria forming.

    You control it via an app on your smartphone, set the portion sizes and manage the feeding schedule remotely, as well as receive real-time notifications about your dog’s feeding status. The voice message function is excellent for recording your feeding announcement.

    It works off the mains, but has back-up battery system.

    A high price, but it has loads of impressive features and advanced technology.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk

    Automatic feed and water dispenser for dogs and cats

    Lucky–M Pets Automatic Feed and Water Set

    Capacity: 3.8l | Feed type: Dry food | RRP: £24.99 |

    This is suitable only for dogs who need ad lib feeding as it refills the bowl automatically as it empties, and the same applies to the water.

    It’s a basic model at a great price, but it’s good quality, has good capacity and is easy to keep clean.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk

    Skymee automatic pet feeder

    Skymee Smart Automatic Food Dispenser

    Capacity: 8l | Feed type: Dry food | RRP: £129.99 |

    This auto pet feeder enables you to time and customise your feeding, via the app. It is suitable for dogs, cats, birds and rabbits.

    It has a high-definition, wide-angle camera with night vision, so you can monitor your pet at any time. There is also a two-way microphone so you can talk to your pet, appease it and listen to it.

    Skymee alerts your smartphone when it detects dog movements or the food is running low. Runs on mains electricity, with a battery back-up system.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk

    PetSafe automatic pet feeder

    PetSafe Simply Feed Automatic Food Dispenser

    Capacity: 5.6l | Feed type: Dry and semi-moist food | RRP: £182.99 |

    This programmable feeder can schedule up to 12 meals a day – which seems a lot but is handy for those who need feeding little and often.  You can specify between 29ml and 940ml per meal according to your dog’s needs.

    It works on a conveyor belt system, which means that moist food is possible, whereas most automatic feeders only work with kibble. It has multiple feed modes – slow, immediate and pause – to suit what works for your dog.

    PetSafe also offers a two-meal splitter, so that you can feed multiple pets.

    Runs on four D-cell batteries.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk

    Petkit Fresh automatic pet feeder

    Petkit Fresh Auto Feeder

    Capacity: 5.9l | Feed type: Kibble | RRP: £114.24 |

    This stylish-looking auto feeder can dispense up to 10 meals a day, with your dog’s feeding programme – timing and portions – set up via the Petkit app.

    It has a double lock system to keep the food fresh for up to 30 days, while the food-dispensing mechanism is specially developed so as not to jam internally.

    Connects to the mains, with battery power as back-up.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk or viovet.co.uk

    Lentek automatic pet feeder

    Lentek Automatic Feeder

    Capacity: 25oz | Feed type: Wet or dry | RRP: £52.52 |

    This is a different model to the other dispensers in that you fill each of the five sections with appropriate meals or treats, and then set a digital timer to reveal each portion-controlled meal from under the lid at the right time.

    It has a built-in voice reorder and speaker so you can automatically play a familiar message to your dog at mealtimes.

    Portion control prevents over-eating, and enables your dog to have regular small meals five times a day. The meal sizes are fairly small at 5oz, so it may not be ideal for dogs who need loads of calories.

    A big bonus of this feeder, apart from the competitive price, is that you can use wet or dry food.

    It runs on three D-cell batteries or can be powered by USB cord (neither are included).

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk

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