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Best Smart Pet Feeders

Updated October 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we tested

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 8 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 89 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best smart pet feeders

    Last Updated October 2018

    Dogs and cats are creatures of habit and like to have fixed feeding schedules. You don't want to let Fido or Felix down just because you have to stay late at the office one night or you want to grab a bite to eat before you head home, so consider getting your paws on a smart pet feeder.

    Now comes the hard part: what makes a smart pet feeder good or bad, and how do you pick the right one for your furry friend?

    Our shopping guide will answer your questions so you can easily select your perfect pet feeder.

    To aid you in finding the best products, we at BestReviews research from morning 'til night. Not only do we have dedicated labs in which we perform product tests, we also regularly consult real-life customers, and we have a stable of experts on call.

    Read our full guide below to help you select the ideal smart pet feeder for you and your dog or cat.

    Smart feeders can help to keep your pet at a healthy weight because they always release the correct amount of food. Pet owners are more likely to measure wrong or sneak in a little extra if Fido gives them the sad eye.

    How do smart pet feeders work?

    Different smart pet feeders have different ways of operating, but there are still basics that are common to all.

    The idea behind an automatic pet feeder is simple: it feeds your pet automatically at set times of day. A smart pet feeder, however, takes this to the next level. Smart pet feeders are WiFi-compatible; most connect to your tablet or smartphone via an app, but some use a website.

    Each app differs slightly, but most allow you to set an automatic feeding schedule or feed your pet on command, communicate with and/or monitor your pet in some way, and control portions.

    Food is stored in a secure hopper and only released at specified intervals, which means your dog or cat gets the correct amount of food at the right time.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Some smart pet feeders can dispense medication and treats in addition to regular meals.

    Why buy a smart pet feeder?

    What's so great about smart pet feeders? Why should you buy one for your four-legged friend? Here are some of the benefits of these useful devices.

    • On Time, Every Time: Smart pet feeders make sure that your pet gets fed. If you don't make it home on time due to inclement weather, working late, or a social event, you don't have to worry that your pet's dinner will be late.

    • Communication: Some smart pet feeders let you communicate with your pet while you're out of the house, providing reassurance for both of you.

    • Frequent Feeding: If you work away from home, but your pet requires three or four meals a day, a smart pet feeder is a godsend.

    • Routine: Even if you have friends or family members who can look after your pet when you’re vacationing, you might be concerned about a change in your pet’s routine. Your friends might not feed your dog at the same time you usually do. With a smart pet feeder, you'll know that your fur baby is being fed at the regular time.

    EXPERT TIP

    While some smart pet feeders are battery-operated or have a battery for backup power, but most simply plug into an outlet.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Smart pet feeder features to consider

    Portion control

    A smart pet feeder wouldn't be very smart if it simply released any old amount of food, leading to over- or under-feeding. Instead, your smart feeder allows you to set the correct portion amount to suit your pet, and it will release only that amount – no more, no less. Some models even suggest portions based on age, weight, and activity level, which is ideal if you're not 100% sure on the correct amount to feed your pet.

    Cats and dogs have very different needs – an independent cat might be okay home alone for a night or two, with a friend or neighbor stopping by once a day to check on her. A dog will require a sitter if you're planning an overnight trip.

    Ease of use

    Nobody wants an appliance that they struggle to use, and it's even more important when it comes to the well-being of your pet. If your chosen smart pet feeder is hard to use, you might set it wrong, causing your four-legged friend to go hungry. Instead, look for a model that's known to be easy to operate with a simple, user-friendly app. It can be hard to tell how easy a pet feeder is to use just by looking at it, but customer reviews are generally forthcoming. The product matrix at the top of this page is a great place to start your search.

    Make sure the smart feeder you choose is compatible with your tablet or smartphone. Some, for instance, only support Apple devices, not Android.

    Sound and video

    You can find smart pet feeders that allow you to communicate with your pet via audio and/or video. Some have a screen and a camera so you can look at your furry friend via your smartphone, and she can see you on the screen. Others have a microphone so that you can speak to your pet. The best options have both, so that you can see, hear, and speak to your pet. Not all smart pet feeders have equally good sound and video quality, however, so you may have to shop around to find a good one.

    Some smart pet feeders that don't allow you to speak in real time with your pet do have the capacity to record and play a short voice message to reassure your pet when you're not around.

    Puzzles

    If you want to entertain as well as feed your pet while you're out, look for a smart pet feeder that includes puzzles and games. These feeders are usually geared toward dogs, but some are cat-friendly, too. A puzzle feeder engages your four-legged friend in some sort of puzzle or game, releasing a small amount of food when Rover or Fluffy gets it right. Some models allow you to download new games and puzzles to the feeder for some variety. You can program the maximum amount of food to be released, after which the feeder will shut off and stop engaging with your pet. This is a good way to keep your pet occupied if you're regularly out of the house for long periods at work or running errands.  

    EXPERT TIP

    Always make sure that there's plenty of fresh water available to your pet – more than enough to last the length of time you’ll be gone.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Smart pet feeder prices

    How much should you expect to pay for a smart pet feeder? These appliances aren't exactly cheap, but the right one can be worth its weight in gold.

    • $80 to $125: Basic smart pet feeders fall in this price range. These models are controlled by apps but don't offer a wide range of features, such as cameras and video screens.

    • $125 to $175: You can find some quality models in this price range, but they may not be as user-friendly as the most expensive options.

    • $175 to $250: Expect top-quality units at this price point, with easy-to-use apps and top-notch sound and video quality.
    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    If your pets have any history of food aggression, it's not wise to use a smart pet feeder in a multi-pet household because it could lead to a fight when nobody is there to do anything about it.

    Tips

    • Consider the type of food you'll be feeding. Most smart pet feeders are only compatible with dry food, but a small number can dispense wet food, too.

    • Look at the capacity of your chosen smart pet feeder. Some feeders can only hold a couple of pounds of food, while others have a capacity of ten pounds or more. Think about the size of your pet and how often you're willing to refill the unit before you buy a feeder.

    • Check the available customer support. Some smart pet feeders, especially those manufactured by companies outside the U.S., have very little customer support available. Since a smart feeder is a fairly large purchase and can be complicated to use, we recommend buying a brand that offers ample post-purchase support.

    • Choose a smart pet feeder that’s easy to clean. If there are areas you just can't reach to clean, bacteria could build up, which could be harmful to your pet.
    Many smart pet feeders store your four-legged friend's feeding schedule in memory so that the feeder will still work if the WiFi goes down.

    FAQ

    Q. Are smart feeders suitable for multiple pets?
    A.
    In theory, you can use your smart feeder to dish out portions large enough for multiple pets, but there is nothing to stop one animal from eating both portions. However, you can buy smart pet feeders that react to your pet's microchip. When one pet approaches the feeder, it will read the microchip and release food; when another pet approaches, it will do the same. However, if the same pet approaches twice, it won't release food because it will know that she's already been fed.

    Q. Do you need WiFi to use a smart pet feeder?
    A.
    For most smart pet feeders, you'll need WiFi to set them up, to use any voice or video features, and to operate them remotely. Many units, however, will still function according to your chosen feeding schedule even if the WiFi cuts out.  

    Q. How many meals fit in a smart pet feeder?
    A.
    That depends on the capacity of your chosen feeder and the amount that your pet eats. A large pet feeder could hold well over 20 meals for a cat, whereas a small pet feeder might only hold a day's worth of food for a Great Dane. Find out the capacity of your chosen feeder in pounds. Then, divide that by the number of pounds of food your pet gets at each meal to find out how many meals your chosen feeder will hold. For instance, if a feeder can hold two pounds of food and your pet eats 1/4 pound of food per meal, the feeder holds eight meals.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Laura
      Laura
      Writer
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer

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