Owning a pet is like raising a kid. If you’ve heard that expression bandied about and are currently watching over twin 3-year-olds, you’ll realize how utterly absurd it is. With that said, owning a pet is no walk in the park. There will be walks in the park, but there will also be a host of other responsibilities that come with having Mrs. Buttercup or Rex as part of the household.

One of those responsibilities is keeping your furry friend fed. The days of messy bowls, food slopped about, and water mixing in with the dry food is over. But, for some, it’s not. So, if you fall into that camp, definitely keep reading.

Automatic pet feeders have radically changed pet owners and their pets alike. Feedings are more orderly, kitchen areas stay clean, and pets remain well nourished regardless of whether their owner is even around. This article is going to touch on the range of automatic feeders available so you can make the best choice for your needs.

Hercules and Pee-Wee will not eat the same after you’re said and done here. It’s a feeding extravaganza out there, and microchip automatic feeders are up first.  

Microchip Automatic Feeders

Microchips are the “new kid on the block” when it comes to breaking technology in the pet arena. The way to think about these tiny devices is akin to social security numbers. You have a name, but many people share your name. What cannot be shared however, is your social security number – unique and for you.

Dogs and cats don’t have IDs. They have names, beautiful names like Scooter, Deputy Dawg, Count Droolsbury, or a personal favorite – Sherlock Bones. But IDs they don’t have, until now.

Microchipping is a straightforward procedure where a veterinarian injects a chip measuring 12mm (a grain of rice) beneath your pet’s skin, right between the shoulder blades. A scanner hovers over the area, reads the chip, and a low radio frequency is emitted that communicates the ID code.

Microchip automatic feeders work in the same manner. The first step is recording your pet’s microchip into the feeder where it is memory stored. Most microchip feeders register the animal’s chip when they approach the bowl and place their head and upper body through a sphere. If the pet that enters is the pre-registered pet, the lid opens. If not, Sergeant Barkowitz is out of luck.

Additionally, microchip automatic feeders work well with (chip-enabled) RFID collars. Besides being an excellent choice for pets on prescription diets, this type of feeder can also store wet or dry food.

Wifi Automatic Feeders

Wifi automatic pet feeders, also known as “smart feeders,” are part of a broader smart pet industry that registered an eye-popping $91 billion in revenue in 2019. Who knew little Sarah Jessica Barker and Winnie the Poodle could drive this kind of cash!

Wifi feeders give owners a range of options to manage and schedule feeding times, overall supply, and best yet, portion sizes. Most Wifi feeders require a wireless router, and if you want to control the feeder with a smart device, then an app needs to be downloaded.

The current offer of Wifi feeders is compatible with Android and Apple, and with the app, programming up to twelve meals per day is possible. Twelve meals per day might sound like a lot, but this can be beneficial if you have multiple pets to worry about.

Another excellent feature of Wifi feeders is the ability to adjust portion sizes. How much pets are eating at any given time is a big topic in pet forums these days. Keeping Fluffernutter and Chalupa at a fighting, healthy weight is what we want. When we name our pets Meatball, for example, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Being able to adjust a portion size anywhere from 1/8 cup to 4 cups, all from your Samsung Galaxy, is a big plus. Wifi feeders offer an eye-popping array of options. Keeping your pet healthy was never so easy.

Programmable Automatic Feeders

If you’ve ever experienced an unwelcome plop on your head at 4:30 AM, keep reading. Some pets are quite docile, while some are frankly not all that smart. These pets mostly wait for you to take the initiative on everything – food, walks, cuddling, etc. It’s all on your time, never theirs.

Other pets however, are savvy, manipulative, and loveable. They demand that life revolves around them. So, when Sir Scratches-A-Lot trounces on your forehead at 4:30 AM, it’s clear that he’s hungry.

One thing that can minimize these trouncing bouts is a programmable automatic feeder. Many pets stick to a strict routine. If they’ve somehow become accustomed to eating at odd hours (for example, 4:30 AM), then you don’t need to be present thanks to programmable automatic feeders. These feeders provide owners a set of options to program precisely when and how much food they want their pets to have.

An area to keep an eye on, however, is food jamming. Many programmable feeders struggle with this, so reading online reviews carefully is recommended. Additionally, the feeder needs to be able to withstand claws and teeth. Nothing at the level of some feline from your local zoo, but all pets can get a bit frisky with the feeder, especially if the food you’ve programmed to dispense is not to their liking.

Gravity Fed Automatic Feeders

While not microchip, Wifi controlled, or programmable, gravity-fed feeders bring one thing to the table that is unique – simplicity. The original pet feeders, gravity-fed feeders rest their reputation with Sir Isaac Newton and are as reliable as gravity.

Designed so your pet will always have water and fresh food, most gravity feeders come in a range of size options. Usually, the food and water hoppers with gravity fed automatic feeders are typically quite large. This feature allows for easy cleaning and a sturdy construction that doesn’t eliminate, but will certainly minimize the risk of an accidental knock-over (for all you Great Dane owners).

One downside to gravity feeders is the design aims to feed one animal, and one animal alone. If Dojo needs to share said feeder with Bubbles, Shadow, and Alfred von Wigglebottom, a gravity feeder isn’t an ideal fit.

Advantages of Using Automatic Feeders

Likely the number one benefit of an automatic feeder is weight management. Most animals (and rightly so) will eat until they are close to bursting, because portion control is non-existent in the animal kingdom. Captain Sniffer can’t be sure that the next meal is just around the corner.

This is despite the fact that the next meal for our pets is always just around the corner. Automatic feeders give owners the ability to control portions, maintain a healthy weight, and keep their pets on a trajectory for a long and productive life.

Another key advantage of using automatic feeders is to maintain routine. No matter the time of year, establishing regular, consistent routines with pets is vital. Routines give pets comfort, mark clear boundaries, and allow the household to function stress-free.

Along the same lines, when your schedule changes, your pet’s schedule can stay the same with an automatic feeder. If jobs change and hours at home dramatically alter, keeping the feeding schedule constant with an automatic feeder is still possible.

To Sum it Up…

The range of options to feed your pet is plentiful. It might be natural to start with gravity feeders, but “smart feeders” are gaining traction for first-time buyers. If your dog or cat’s weight is an issue, keeping meals regimented is critical.

Like children, pets require firm boundaries. Maintaining a steady routine is ideal for any pet. Automatic feeders give owners the flexibility to control portions, and synching this process automatically lessens the workload for everyone.