How Do Automatic Dog Feeders Work? (Solved & Explained!)

Automatic dog feeders use a timer that allow you to schedule feeding sessions so that at specific times, your feeder will provide food in pre-measured amounts to feed your dog without your assistance. There are also microchip models that are great for small dogs which open and close based on a microchip in the dog’s collar. Lastly, there are gravity feeders that just free feed your dog and you only have to refill it every week or so as it empties.

In today’s article, we’ve gathered the questions trending the most on the web this week about automatic feeders, gravity feeders, and slow-feeding options. Read on to get the information that you need to know before you purchase an automatic feeder!

Are automatic dog feeders any good?

Yes! An automatic dog feeder is an excellent, time-saving option that helps to ensure that your dog is getting regular meals on the schedule that you set. If you need to be away from the house, due to work or an evening out, an automatic feeder makes sure that your dog is getting fed on time.

They are also great for dieting dogs, as you can resist the temptation to give an overweight dog extra kibble and snacks by automating the process so that your dog can’t ‘guilt’ you while you are pouring their food in the bowl!

Are automatic dog feeders bad?

Used properly, an automatic dog feeder is generally an advantage. The only downsides might be if an owner used the feeder as an excuse to spend appreciably less time at home, which can lead to a dog becoming depressed, or the possibility of malfunction while you are away.

That said, if you keep your time away to a minimum so that your dog gets plenty of attention and if you don’t leave the house for more than 24 hours, these caveats for automatic feeders are easily negated.

Which automatic dog feeder is best?

There are a number of models on the market that are considered to be top of the line when it comes to automatic feeders.

Examples include the PeTsafe 5-meal and 6-meal dispensers, Pet Libro’s dry food dispenser for medium and small dogs, and the SerenLife auto feeder which even have voice recording so that you can ‘call’ your dog to come eat, even when you aren’t home!

Can you put wet food in an automatic feeder?

Yes, you can put wet food in a feeder, but not just any feeder – make sure that the one that you select is good for both dry and wet food. That said, if the feeder supports both, then the refrigerated variety is best. Automatic feeders that work with wet food employ one of two cooling mechanisms to keep food fresh.

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Cheaper models will employ an icepack, which is good for about 6 hours, while a refrigerated model will keep the food cool constantly. If you have an icepack model, you can freeze the dog food in advance to get a longer window of freshness, but the refrigerated option is you best investment.

What is a gravity pet feeder?

A gravity feeder, at it’s most basic, is essentially composed of a food container that is inverted and positioned in such a way that when your dog eats and lowers the food amount, more food falls down to keep your dog’s bowl full.

They tend to jam less than smart feeders, which is nice, although if your dog is a glutton then a gravity feeder might not be the best idea – your dog may well eat themselves sick or at least until the bowl is empty!


Do gravity feeders keep food fresh?

Actually, yes. Gravity feeders have come a long way from the original designs, and newer models now have additional functionality which indeed includes keeping food fresh for longer.

Check around when you are shopping for gravity feeders or ask your local pet store about the newer models and you should be able to find one of these.

Do gravity feeders work for dogs?

Gravity feeders can be a great fit – for the right dog. In a perfect scenario, the gravity feeder will ensure that your dog always has a full bowl ready for when they get hungry and so you won’t have to constantly get up to fill it. There might be a problem, however, if your dog has poor self control.

Some dogs can be gluttons and many an owner has a story about their dog getting into the food bag and eating themselves sick by the time the owner got home. With a gravity feeder, your dog can eat until the food runs out, so an electronic feeder might be a better fit if your dog has poor self-control.

Can you put water in a gravity feeder?

Yes, there are gravity feeders that are designed for water and these models have come quite far from the original ‘overturned bottle’ models. Modern gravity feeders for water work more like a toilet would, with a water hose being attached to the feeder so that gravity and water pressure ensure that the water bowl stays full.

How does a gravity water feeder work?

A gravity water feeder can work one of two ways. The basic model is essentially an overturned water container which is attached to the bowl and as the water level drops in that bowl it is immediately replaced to the fill line from the water in that container.

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The second way that they can work is similar to how a toilet fills. By means of a hose and faucet attached to the bowl, water is replenished at the rate that it is consumed and immediately replaced with fresh water.

How do you make a slow feeder dog bowl?

If you are using a gravity feeder and your dog is eating too quickly, you can slow them down a little with a makeshift ‘slow feeder’ bowl. Simply place a tennis ball (or any ball sized to a point that it’s not a choking hazard) in the food bowl so that your dog is forced to eat around it.

This slows down the amount that they can gobble up immediately and over time, the lesson might even stick. Even if it doesn’t, the extra work to eat around the ball can save your dog a bit of stomach discomfort, which is always a good thing.