There are a number of different automatic pet feeder styles, and each one serves to allow pet owners more freedom and to provide their pets with the nourishment they need – even in the occasional, short-term absence of their owners.
Let’s start with the timer portion control pet feeder. These feeders are preset to deliver a specific amount of food at various preset times of the day. Perhaps the most important characteristic to this design is portion control. Many pets will eat more than the healthy amount of food when left to their own devices. The portion control automatic pet feeder prevents overeating which is excellent for overweight pets. The timer can be set for anywhere from 1 to 8 feedings per day (depending on design and feeding needs) and can also be set to deliver between ¼ to 2 cups of food per feeding. The CSF-3 Cat Super Feeder and the LeBistro Automatic Pet Feeder are probably the most popular of this type of automatic feeder.
There are quite a few different models of portion control feeders. Some feature a rotating top that opens one section at a time from which the pet can eat. This type, like the Lentek 6 Day automatic Pet Dish needs to be placed in a space that would allow the pet 360 degree access so that means it cannot be placed against a wall. Some just allow a certain amount of food to be dropped from the inner container. The electronic portion controlled automatic pet feeder is the higher priced of all models.
The gravity on demand automatic pet feeder is simply a storage container above a bowl or receptacle that provides a constant flow of food. These tend to vary in design and food holding capacity. There is always a danger of overeating when an endless supply is available so check with your veterinarian before providing your dog or cat with an all you can eat buffet. These models vary greatly in price and in size and materials.
Some disadvantages to having an automatic pet feeder are the inability to keep them sealed tightly so that ants or other bugs are not drawn to them. Also, they’re not fool-proof or “pet proof” which means that Rover just may figure out how to get more food out of his feeder. If his parents are gone for more than the day, this can be a problem because there won’t be any food left for tomorrow.
Another disadvantage to all automatic pet feeder models is that when multiple pets are involved, it’s hard to be sure that each pet is getting his or her fair share in his or her owner’s absence. Dominant dogs will push their way into a more submissive dog’s feeder and leave the gentler dog without a meal.
Before you choose what style automatic pet feeder is best for you and for your pet’s health, be sure to remember that they’re not a substitute pet parent. It’s still your responsibility to be sure they are kept clean, and full and that they’re checked daily.
An automatic pet feeder can make your life easier and can be a temporary fill-in for those times when you won’t be available to feed your pet. They’re especially great for cats because when used correctly, they can allow for cat owners to spend weekends away without too much worry. With that said, it’s very important that you don’t leave your dog alone for any number of days – no matter how big or fancy your automatic pet feeder is. Dogs need supervision, love and daily walks. They’re much less independent than cats. If you can’t be there for them, then make arrangements for a friend, family member or professional pet sitter to stop by and care for your dog or provide him or her with boarding at your veterinarian’s office or other kennel facility.