Important: This site uses affiliate links. This means if you purchase something through our site, we may receive a commission at no additional charge to you. Any sponsored posts will be clearly labeled as such. All opinions are honest.
Since free feeding was out of the question for my dogs, I dutifully fed them twice a day, everyday, for years, rain or shine and sickness and health. I was scooping kibble, opening cans of wet food, steaming green beans for a light snack, and frequently preparing gourmet home cooked food because that’s the kind of life my dogs live.
If you ask the vet, I may have done all of those things in excess. Eventually, the dogs were restricted to prescription diet food though once some of the weight had come off, we did include occasional non-diet food to mix up meal time.
Admittedly, I actually enjoyed this routine of waking up every morning and seeing the delight on their tiny faces as I lumbered to the sealed bucket of food, the cabinet where the canned food was stored, or even the fridge where leftover home cooked dog food awaited them. Like most dogs, mine greatly enjoy eating. It is difficult to match the excitement of a five pound chihuahua at feeding time.
However, after twelve years of working from home, I accepted a job that required me to be in the office twice a week. Also, life had changed in multiple other areas and I was not always on time for dinner. Referring to the fact that my dogs are on a prescription diet and also have an expensive dog treadmill, it’s safe to say nobody was going without. However, I did feel guilty and would find myself rushing about when I was out or stressing while in the office that meal time was being delayed.
I decided to remove that stress from my life and invest in automatic dog feeders. I had never used an automatic feeder before and I wasn’t sure how I felt about needing one and removing myself from the equation of the excitement of feeding time. But the truth was I simply could not always be home on time and it sometimes created stressful situations attempting to do so.
There was an additional perk as well. Instead of two feeding times, the dogs could now have more, which complemented their slightly stricter diet. Four feeding times versus two let the same amount of food stretch farther through the day.
Like most purchases, I researched far more than necessary before committing to a dog dish. I eventually settled on one and test ran it with the aforementioned five pound chihuahua before committing to a house full of automatic dog feeders.
There is no shortage of automatic dog food feeders on the market. However, as it turned out there, was a shortage of ones that met my rather specific list of requirements.
The main non-negotiable feature was that the dish utilized an app instead of a screen, or worse dials and buttons, on the dish itself. This relatively straightforward request severely limited options.
Of course, once you start comparing and contrasting products, the inevitable happens: features you never even considered you wanted and that you don’t need become deal breakers, or at the very least, you would just really like to have them.
That is what happened with the discovery that some automatic dog food dishes include a camera. I already have security cameras around the house which allow me to check in on the animals when I’m not home and realistically, I did not need one at dish level. But the feature just seemed delightful.
This was further encouraged by examples of adorable shots of dogs enjoying their food. They would look at the camera and pose for the picture, and not one of them turned out like my gallery so far which includes a close-up of one dog’s ear, another of their nostril, and a particularly charming shot of one dog staring over the head of another dog waiting for leftovers.
I admit sometimes I do like checking the camera when I’m not home and seeing the state of affairs from a different level than the high-mounted security cameras, but it was not an option that had to be included.
Another feature that I didn’t know I wanted but serves a more practical purpose was battery backup. This allows the dish to continue to operate even if the power has gone out and does not rely on a Wi-Fi signal to continue to feed the animals for an extended period of time. I added that to the need to have a list even though I’m not sure it will ever be necessary.
To be completely transparent, I haven’t even added the batteries to the dish yet anyway.
After reading numerous reviews and comparing the relatively limited options and features, considering it’s a dog dish and not a car, I eventually made my decision.
I don’t regret anything but I have learned a few things.
One of my concerns with the dish was the notation about the size of the kibble. My dog food contains dried jerky pieces which are significantly larger than the kibble, and I wasn’t sure if that was going to pose a problem. Once I received the product and saw the design inside, I realized that it was highly unlikely that anything smaller than a cow head was going to get stuck in there. And that has not happened.
As for the camera, it is certainly not going to win any awards but it’s better than I anticipated. I do use it, and I don’t regret adding that feature to the wish list.
The app itself gets the job done but I do say that loosely. It works but the design is a little clunky and sometimes it takes a moment to load. Inside the app, you can set portion controls, but the portions are not intuitive. I did find that it was easiest to calculate portions by dispensing and measuring until I understood the approximate amount that would actually be dispensed. Then, I calculated based on what the food requirements are.
That said, portions are really more of a suggestion. More than once, the dish has dispensed more food than allocated by the app. Sometimes, the dishes politely inform you of this hiccup by blinking red light to indicate that the dog has been overfed. Sometimes the app will also show that it over dispensed but I have noticed that that is not always consistent. This is not too much of a problem even with a dog that’s on a diet though.
However, repeated dispensing issues can overflow the dish, in which case I turn off the dog food feeder while I’m home and allow the dogs to catch up. That said, portions are relatively small so even when the dish dispenses an extra portion or two, the reality is it didn’t add that much extra food.
My only real frustration with this dish is that it doesn’t always feed at the scheduled time. Sometimes the dish will dispense four or five minutes early, which wouldn’t be a problem in a household with only one dog or with slightly less ambitious dogs. But I live with Mei Mei.
Mei Me is not known for being particularly adept at sharing. As I mentioned, the dog food that I feed them contains pieces of jerky mixed with the kibble. They love this jerky, and anytime I have changed food, I have had a slight rebellion on my hands.
Mei Mei has learned that there is jerky dispensed from the two dishes she can access, hers and Cecil’s, since they share everything. Cecil is a very submissive good boy and Mei Mei has learned that she can run from dish to dish, gobbling up the jerky. I’ve been working on training her to stick to one dish. Unfortunately, when one of the dishes more frequently than I would like, dispenses early, it gives her just enough time to eat the jerky and run to the other dish as it dispenses.
This is really less of a flaw with the dog dish than it is with my dog, but it is a little frustrating considering the price point of these dishes that I have to sort out meal time when I am home. Of course, when I’m home, I open the neat little hopper in the back, scoop out a handful of food, and let him pick out the jerky to offset the maniac that he lives with. I would prefer if the timer was not off; since it doesn’t do this every day, setting it early by a few minutes only compounds the problem.
That said, overall, the dish provides the reassurance that if I do not get out of the office in time, or if I am out too late on errands, or if I have taken a day trip out of town, that the dogs are well fed and happy.
And, if I’m really curious, I can take a look through the camera and get a nice shot of a nose.