While feeding your pet should always be something that you keep an eye on, automatic pet feeders can be a great option for those who are busy or away from home most of the day. If you've been wondering if this is a good option for you to invest in, we're going to cover a few of the basics as well as several factors you should take into consideration.

WHAT IS AN AUTOMATIC PET FEEDER?

Automatic pet feeders are dispensers that will feed your pet with some sense of hands-free convenience. Gravity feeders can fall under this category, which are feeders that simply dispense more food as it runs out of the dish. Other options are programmable, like the GAMMA2 Nano Automated Pet Feeder, which allows you to set the amount of food, the number of mealtimes, and when your pet is fed. Some models even let you control the feeder through your phone. With so many different styles available, there might be something that works well for your pet and your situation.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF AUTOMATIC PET FEEDERS?

There are several reasons why pet owners will opt for an automatic feeder, but there are also a few downsides and risks to using them.

PROS: The first pro is convenience and is probably the most commonly cited reason for purchasing one. Automatic pet feeders can be a good option for pet owners who are busy with work or school as well as those who are not typically home during your pet's regular feeding times. Rather than rushing home to ensure your pet is fed on time or forcing your pet to wait until you arrive home, automatic pet feeders can extend a much-needed hand by dispensing your pet's portions of food for you. It's also a nice option for early morning meals when you need to catch up on sleep.

a small dog eating food from an automatic pet feeder

Another big pro of automatic pet feeders is portion control. Some models of automatic feeders allow you to portion out how much food your pet is getting and how often they are getting it. This can benefit pets who may have weight issues or struggle with eating too much in one sitting. Bloating might not seem like a big issue on the surface, but it can lead to dangerous outcomes in dogs and cats, such as infections or heart failure.

CONS: If you have multiple pets, an automatic pet feeder may not be the best option for you. While not all animals will get into each other's food, an automatic feeder could make it tempting for one of your pets to start nibbling on food that isn't theirs without you bring there to monitor them.

Next, some automatic pet feeders may continue to dispense food even if it is not being eaten, which can lead to overflow or messiness. Some of these feeders may easily tip over if bumped, which can result in food spilling out.

Automatic pet feeders only work for dry food diets. If your pet is eating canned food, an automatic pet feeder will not work for you. Keep in mind that you should not switch your pet over to dry food simply because you want to try out an automatic feeder. Wet food often has more nutrients and if your dog or cat is accustomed to eating this, they will likely experience digestive issues if you suddenly switch them to something new. As always, consult with your vet if you have any questions about transitioning your pet to a new diet.

Last of all, automatic pet feeders can lead to neglect or dehumanization, especially in cats. Many cat owners opt for an automatic feeder while they are on vacation rather than getting a pet sitter, as cats are not as high maintenance as dogs. While this might be okay for a day or two, it's always a good idea to have someone check in on your cat while you're out of town to ensure that the automatic feeder is doing its job.

It's helpful to remember that feeding your cats helps establish you as the head of the household. While it might be okay for you to use an automatic feeder every now and then, relying on it every day may result in a negative change in your cat's behavior if they no longer view you as the leader.

WHAT'S THE VERDICT?

Overall, automatic pet feeders often work well and do what they are supposed to do. If your pet is thriving on a dry food diet and you are familiar with their eating habits, automatic feeders can be a great option for busy days or short trips. However, remember that a feeder should never be a replacement for you. Even if an automatic feeder is a good fit for your pet and situation, don't overly rely on it.

If you have any specific questions regarding your pet's feeding schedule or diet, don't hesitate to discuss this with your vet.

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