Going to be late for work or social, having to go away on emergencies or short business trips or simply wanting to be sure that your pet is fed on time, a smart automatic pet feeder will do the job. In this article, we explore five of the best smart pet feeder for your dog, cat or other small animals.
If you are caught in traffic, being late from work because the meeting dragged on, or planning to stay out after work to meet up with friends for a meal, knowing that your pet will not starve at home is one less thing off your mind. There are many reasons for getting an automatic pet feeder. We reviewed 12 of the best automatic pet feeders in our previous article, the Best Automatic Pet Feeders: Programmable food dispensers for dogs and cats. There we looked at a combination of conventional pet feeders and some smart feeders. Here in this article however, we focus mainly on smart and connected pet feeders.
What to Look for in Smart Pet Feeders
Not only do these programmable smart feeders let pet owners set multiple meal times, it also lets pet owners adjust the meal portions so their pet get the right amount of food at the right time, every time. If you are new to smart feeders, here are some basic features to expect and additional advanced features that makes it complete.
- Connect remotely via WiFi using mobile app to program the smart feeder
- Schedule multiple meal timed for each day to establish a routine feeding schedule for the pet
- Set voice alert to call the pet to meal with a short voice recording
- Set the food portion for each meal ensuring that your pet is not over fed or under fed
- Get notifications of feeding time on the mobile
- Get alerts for when the food level is low on the mobile
Slow feed mode dispenses food slowly over 15 minutes ensuring that the pet do not gobble up all the food only to throw it all out next minute. It also stops the pet from getting bloated.
Variable portion control by meal time means apart from setting the number of times the pet is fed in a day, the food portion can also be controlled. It can be set to the same portion for every meal or change from meal to meal. It may be that after learning about the pet’s eating habit, less food or more food is needed at different times of the day time. These smart pet feeders allow for such a tweak.
Portion recommendation is available on the app on some smart pet feeders. Simply enter the breed, age, weight and how active the pet is into the app and it will suggest the amount of food it needs. This takes out the guess work when setting the right food portion and ensures that one does not over feed or under feed their pet.
Web camera and 2-way voice chat support with on-board camera, speaker and microphone allow pet owners to check-in and communicate with their pet. Wide angle camera lets them see their pets with live video streaming to their device. The camera usually supports High Definition (HD) for sharper and more detailed images and video. More advanced camera come with night vision support to let the the owner look for their pet even in the dark. We know how comforting and excited it is when a pet hears a familiar voice, being able to communicate with your pet and hear them in return no matter where you are.
Social Sharing: Use the camera and app to take photos or record videos to save on the mobile phone or to share with others on social media.
Indicator lights: this is useful for when the owner dials into the smart feeder. The light act as a presence indicator showing the pet that there is someone connected at the other end of the smart pet feeder.
Pet and owner friendly: most smart pet feeders are designed to be both pet and owner friendly. Locking lids, silicone sealed covers, separate pocket for desiccant to keep the dry food fresh, chute sensor to stop the food bowl from overflowing or clogging and pet proof design are some of the things that users take for granted. They go a long way in making sure that the smart pet feeder is user and pet friendly.
The companion app makes configuring the smart pet feeder quick and easy. If you have used a control panel with buttons and back lit LCD screens before, you will know that it can sometimes be frustrating to drive the endless menu options to get a simple setting enabled or disable. Everybody has a smartphone these days and driving the app is no different. The smart pet feeder will be up and running in no time with easy to follow full screen instructions and options.
Food Storage Capacity: the food hopper size is a key consideration when considering a smart pet feeder. Bigger pets require bigger food portion per meal so it won’t take long before the hopper needs refilling. Getting a pet feeder with the biggest capacity reduces the frequency of having to top up the food. Storage sizes range between a couple to around 10 pounds or more.
The number of meals it can dispense relies on the food portion per meal and the capacity of the hopper. A large pet feeder will dispense up to 20 meals for a small pet like a small pet or cat. A small pet feeder however will only have enough food for a day or two at most. Check the capacity of the smart feeder usually in pounds or by volume of storage or by number of cups. Use this as a rough guide to figure out how many meals the feeder can dispense before running low. This will give you an idea of how long the feeder and your pet can be left alone.
Type of food: generally, only dry kibbles are supported to avoid clogging due to the food delivery or conveyer system. However, we have seen pet feeders that can store and dispense moist food. If this is a requirement, only consider automatic feeder that is capable of handling wet food. The size of the kibble is also important. Again, most smart feeders will take off the shelf feeds but check supported kibble sizes.
Power Supply: batteries operated units are common. Most smart pet feeder supports off the shelf D-cell batteries. Others have built-in rechargeable battery. On top of that, they sometime come with included power supply or USB cable to connect to the wall outlet.
Connectivity: tost smart and connected pet feeder supports only Wireless connection in the 2.4GHz bandwidth and not 5GHz bandwidth. This is not so much a problem as most consumer broadband routers support dual bands but it is worth noting. Once programmed, it will continue to function even if it loses its wireless connection. The settings are stored safely on the unit.
Cleaning and Maintenance: food storage bin, food bowl and lid are removable and is dish washer proof on these smart feeders. None removable parts are easy to reach and clean with a warm cloth. Keep the food conveyer and outlet debris free to avoid jamming up the motor. Use a vacuum cleaner to draw out debris caught in small gaps. The smart pet feeder is a small investment so keeping it routinely clean will increase the life span and service life of the feeder.
Top 5 Best Smart Pet Feeder
Know that we know what features to look for, check out our product list below featuring five of the best smart pet feeder out there right now.
Top 5 Best Automatic Pet Feeder: Programmable Pet Food Dispensers for Cats and Dogs
We list five of the best automatic pet feeder out there right now.
1. PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder – SMART
The first smart pet feeder on our list, the PetSafe automatic pet feeder is suitable for cats and dogs. The WiFi enabled Pet feeder lets you access and control the automatic feeder from its companion app, available for Android of iPhone. It also has a generous 24-cup capacity, which should be enough for small to medium sized or even big pets.
Use the app to program up to 12 feeding time, with each meal dispensed to the right amount from 1/8cup to 4 cups. There is also a Feed Now control via the app to dispense extra food outside of feeding time. The smart dispenser also has unique dispensing mode called the Slow Feed mode. This dispenses the food over a period of 15 minutes to prevent bloating and vomiting in pets.
Other features include mobile notifications of feeding time, if WiFi connection is available. If the unit is disconnected, the scheduled program continues offline. All components, the lid, hopper, bowl and bowl holder are dishwasher safe. The smart feeder can be battery or mains operated with supplied adapter.
- Capacity: 24 cups, portion control 1/8 cup to 4 cups per meal.
- Schedule: programmable via smartphone with up to 12 meal times.
2. JEMPET 12 Meals Automatic Pet Feeder – SMART, CAMERA, ALEXA
This automatic pet feeder goes one step further by including a 1080P HD WiFi Pet Camera with Night vision and 2-Way Audio. Dial in and speak to your pet via your mobile device be it a tablet or smartphone. The wide angle camera with night vision offers live streaming video to your phone anywhere in the world. Onboard speaker and microphone lets you have a voice chat with your pet.
Pet owners can also use the app to record video and take photos. This can either be saved on the phone or locally if an SD card is present in the smart feeder. They can then review and share this later. When food is low in the hopper, the app will also notify the owner via the app on top of the programmed feeding notifications.
Apart from the camera, the ability to see and chat with your pet remotely, program the smart feeder remotely and Alexa support, the automatic pet feeder functions the same way like any other standard feeder. Customise the feeding time and portion as well as record a personal call to meal voice message. This voice command to your pet will play before each meal to let them know that food is ready.
As for power, it can be mains powered or battery powered with 3 D-cell batteries. WiFi connection is required for remote control, voice and video chat.
- Capacity: 2.7L with portion control with each portion equating to 5 grams
- Food Type and Size: Dry only, 12mm
- Camera: 1080p HD video
- Schedule: up to 12 meals per day can be scheduled
- Power: 3 x D-cell batteries or AC-DC 5V 2.0A USB interface
3. WOpet Smart Feeder Automatic Pet Feeder – SMART, CAMERA
Another connected Smart pet feeder, the WOPet Smart Feeder comes not only with a timer to schedule up to 6 meals a day but it has an onboard 720p HD camera for video with 120° Wide Angle Lens and voice recording. This lets the owners interact with their pets remotely in real time via the web cam and two-way audio using onboard microphone and speaker via a mobile app. The companion app is available for both iPhone and Android device.
A see-thru lid lets you check the food level quickly. The food container is also removable should you need to clear it out and wash it and so is the food tray. Use the app to control the portion setting it from 1 to 39 portions by 10 to 12 grams increments for each portion to suit your pet size and appetite. The app is also capable of recording your pet with found.
Finally, the has a micro SD card slot that supports up to 32GB of storage and will only connect to your home network via WiFi using the 2.4GHz band.
- Capacity: 6.5L
- Food Type and Size: Dry only, 0.2-0.5 inches in diameter
- Camera: 720p HD video
- Schedule: Set up to 6 meals a day
- Power: 3 x D-cell batteries or 5V/1A adapter
4. DOGNESS Automatic WiFi Smart Camera Pet Feeder – SMART, CAMERA
The Dogness smart pet feeder has an onboard IP camera where you can get the camera feed or live stream via a free companion app. The camera has a wide 165 degree lens and comes with night vision so you won’t miss anything even in the dark. Onboard speaker and microphone also allows a two way voice chat with the pet. The unit can be powered with the included 5V USB DC adapter or batteries. For the camera to work, it will need to be connected to a 2.4GHz WiFi network for Internet.
The automatic feeder can be programmed to feed the pet at scheduled times or manually using the Dogness app. The app also lets the owner record a voice message that will play at the start of for the programmed meal time to alert the pet. The portion for each meal time can also be controlled. The food hopper can hold up to 6.5 lbs of food and comes with a separate pocket for desiccant to keep the food dry. For a small dog or cat, this can equate to around 45 days of food, so fewer refill frequency. Two portion wheels are included. The L-size portion wheel is suitable for medium to large pets while the S-size portion wheel for small to medium pets. Yes, the name Dogness may be misleading as most pet owners bought this for their cats.
- Capacity: 6L or 6.5 lbs, with portion control. 5 portion feeding bowl – LARGE CAPACITY
- Food Type and Size: Dry only, 0.2-0.5 inches in diameter
- Camera: HD video with wide angle lens and night vision
- Schedule: Programmable via app, set up to 6 meal times, with the respective portions
- Power: 3 x D-cell batteries or 5V DC 1A
5. Petnet SmartFeeder (2nd generation) Automatic Wi-Fi Pet Feeder – SMART, ALEXA
UPDATE OCTOBER 2020 It appears from several feedback comments left on our website that PetNet is no longer providing support to end-users. Unfortunately we have also been unable to get to ‘My Account’ section on their website. At this point, we would not recommend buying a Petnet product.
No, this smart automatic pet feeder does not come with a built-in camera but it is connected nonetheless so you will receive feed and food level notifications and be able to program the feed times and control the portions via the companion app.
Download the PetNet app, available for both android and iOS devices to access all the features and functions. The app even recommends the right meal portion if you give it your pets information such as breed, age, weight and activity level.
While it does not come with its own camera, it can be used with Alexa or Google assistant allowing the pet owner to issue voice commands to echo or Google home devices to dispense food manually. The unit is available in black as shown in the image below or white.
It has a built-in rechargeable battery that will last up to 2 days, something to note if you are going to be away for longer than that. While it requires the Internet connection for remote programming, once programmed, it does not rely on the Internet for feed times.
The SmartFeeder has a durable portion wheel, food level sensors, food container lock, removable food bucket and pet proof self locking lid as well as removable dishwasher safe bowl.
- Capacity: 5 to 7 lbs. portion control can be set to 1/16 – 1 1/2 cups. The bowl holds 2.5 cups of dry food
- Food Type and Size: Dry food 1/8″ – 5/8″ in diameter
- Camera: NONE
- Schedule: Programmable via app with precise portion
- Power: Built-in rechargeable battery for up to 2 days, USB power supply
PETKIT Fresh Element Automatic Smart Pet Feeder – SMART, ALEXA
The name may suggest that it is a cat feeder, but the PETKIT automatic smart feeder is also suitable for small dogs. The programmable smart feeder has a large 6 lbs food hopper which equates to around 5.9 L in volume. The food container has a double fresh lock system to keep food fresh. A soft silicone sealing ring on both the lid and food outlet door as well as a dedicated desiccant box in the lid keeps the pet food dry and fresh.
Apart from notifications, the app lets the owner set up to 4 meal times daily with the ability to control the food portions for each meal. Portion settings are 1 to 20 with each portion measuring around 20 grams. A maximum of 10 mean plans can be create for each day. The unit can be wall outlet powered or battery powered using 4 D-cells. This helps ensure that the feeder continues to operate even during power outages.
The PetKit is compatible with Alexa. With PetKit skills enabled and logged in, it can be control via an Echo device using voice commands.
- Capacity: 6lbs or 5.9 L
- Food Type: NA
- Camera: NONE
- Schedule: up to 4 meals for small to medium pets
- Power: 4 x D-cell batteries or mains powered with 6VDC adapter