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Dog bowl and automatic feeder buying guide

Dog bowl and automatic feeder buying guide

Crystal, Owner of a small gardening business, Oxford

Guide written by:

Crystal, Owner of a small gardening business, Oxford

55 guides

Essential for serving up your dog's daily dinner, dog bowls should be durable and easy to clean. Alternatively, an automatic feeder allows your dog to eat when you're not around. From puppy bottles to slow feeders, read on to find the best way to feed your dog. 

Important features

  • Dog bowls
  • Automatic feeders
  • Puppy feeding bottles
  • Slow feeder bowls
  • Dog bowl holder
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It can be tricky to find just the right bowl or feeding equipment for your dog. But with so many products on the market, you're sure to find a product to match the size of your dog, their eating habits and your own lifestyle. Does your dog wolf down their food or do you tend to keep irregular hours? Go for an easy-to-use dog automatic feeder.

Your choice of dog bowl will come down to a number of practical factors such as size, material, shape and, of course, budget. Alternatively, you might go for an automatic feeder designed to dish out your dog's food whether you're there or not. These feeders may be mechanical or electronic. You simply need to decide what kind of feeder you want and check portion capacity and number of compartments featured.

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Dog bowls

Dog bowls feature among the most important pet accessories to have in the house, on holiday or even in the workplace.

Dog bowl materials

Dog bowls come in a range of materials.

  • Plastic dog bowls: lightweight and easy to clean; may feature non-slip base depending on model.
  • Stainless steel bowl: very strong, antibacterial, easy to clean.
  • Ceramic bowl: breakable, heavy (won't move around), attractive.

Some dog bowls are made from two or more materials to combine design with more practical considerations such as how easy they are to clean; for example, you might want to go for an easy-care stainless steel bowl with a non-slip coating.

Types of dog bowl

Dog bowls also come in a range of different designs.

  • Double dog bowls (for water and food, or wet and dry food).
  • Single dog bowls.
  • Free-standing bowls.
  • Dog bowl stands.
  • Elevated dog bowls for dogs with long ears.

Of course you'll also have to think of the size of the bowl depending on the amount of food your dog requires. Most bowls come in three or four sizes (S, M and L, or even XL) and may refer to the dog breed for reference (e.g. toy poodle, spaniel, labrador and St Bernard).

Automatic feeders can be a great option for rationing out food for your four-legged friend and making sure they are cared for in your absence.

Some feeders can be programmed to distribute food at set times via an in-built timer. They may be battery-operated or mains-powered. Other feeders require your dog to perform an action such as pushing, pushing or rolling around part of the feeder like a Pipolino feeder toy.

Automatic feeders can come in handy if you occasionally find yourself running a little late for feeding time. However, it's important to remember dogs do not cope well when left alone for too long; if nothing else, remember they still have to go to the bathroom!

7 steps to choosing an automatic feeder

In order to choose the right automatic feeder, you'll need to weigh up a number of different factors based on your dog's needs and your tech preferences:

  1. What is the capacity of the feeder?
  2. Can it distribute more than one portion? 
  3. How big is the size of the bowl
  4. Is there more than one compartment? 
  5. Is the feeder easy to programme? 
  6. Can the feeder be connected to your smartphone?
  7. How is it powered?

Some models are equipped with a webcam and microphone and can be controlled from a distance. This can be a handy tool for keeping your dog amused when you're not around.

Other feeders simply rely on movement. In this case, the food is dispensed through holes as your dog plays with an object. This allows your dog to feed themselves treats or even to serve themselves a full meal through play.
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Dry dog food

Need a travel bowl or a way to give your dog water on the move?

Travel bowls may be solid or collapsible. The main aim of this type of bowl is to save space. Collapsible bowls are generally a more functional and popular option for providing food or water to your dog outside of the home.

These bowls collapse in on themselves to form a disc when not in use. Most are made from silicone thanks to the flexibility of the material. Pay special attention to the material used as this will determine the lifespan of the product.

Travel dog water bottles can also be really handy. These bottles feature a fold-out bowl so can be used to carry and dispense water at once. You'll need to make sure the fold-out water bowl is the right shape for your dog's face type (flat or long-nosed) and their size. Some dogs don't feel comfortable drinking from a container held by their owner; in this case, a simple collapsible bowl is the best option.

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Travel bowls

It may be necessary to bottle feed puppies that have been rescued from a very young age without their mother, or if the mother does not have enough milk to go around.

Special feeding bottles can be used to feed the puppy using the right type of milk for their size and specific needs. The latex teats come in a range of sizes and will need to be pierced before the first use.

The bottle itself is usually made of plastic and will come in various of sizes (though 50 or 60 ml are common). Often, the bottle will be sold with a powdered milk solution for puppies.

One-week-old puppies will need to be fed around 7 to 8 times a day!

Be very careful when feeding puppies as there is always a risk of choking.

Using a food scoop at each meal will help you to give your pet the right amount of food to help them maintain a healthy weight – or lose a few pounds!

A measuring scoop with a scale on the side will help you to control portions and keep stock of your dog food; this is particularly helpful in professional environments such as vet practices or rescue centres.

Dog food needs to be kept in a dry place and out of direct sunlight. Storage bins can be used to store food that comes in packaging that won't close properly.

Dog food storage bins

Make sure your storage bin is:

  • 100% waterproof;
  • opaque (UV protection);
  • food safe;
  • washable.

Your storage bin should be kept in excellent condition and mustn't feature holes, cracks or wear away in contact with the food.

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Dog food storage

Dog bowl stands 

Some retailers offer a range of dog feeding accessories designed to make feeding easier or to prevent accidents (e.g. twisted stomach).

Your dog bowl doesn't have to be placed on the floor – it can be held in a stand. These stands can sometimes be adjusted to match the size of your dog.

Dog bowl stands are recommended for larger dogs that have to reach down to eat or for old dogs in order to prevent back pain while eating.

Slow feeder bowls

A slow feeder bowl can be a great alternative to a classic dog bowl. These bowls feature ridges at the bottom which forces your dog to search out the food and helps to slow down their eating. Eating more slowly will allow your dog to feel more satiated and limits the risk of vomiting afterwards.

There's a bowl out there to match every dog. Make your choice based on a few key factors (price, size, capacity, material), your dog's preferences, and your lifestyle.

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Dog food scoops

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Guide written by:

Crystal, Owner of a small gardening business, Oxford, 55 guides

Crystal, Owner of a small gardening business, Oxford

From a background in waste transportation, I became a farmer specialising in organic gardening. A graduate of Horticultural Production, I tried for several years as a young farmer to settle in the beautiful region of Oxfordshire.   After many disappointments, I finally started a small-business in home services, specifically in gardening, assisted by my loving, dear husband. Passionate about nature and wild edible plants, I am very attentive to ecological solutions and respectful of our environment in all aspects of my daily life.   From the vegetable garden to the flower beds, from seed to harvest, I have all kinds of advice up my sleeve. Do not hesitate to ask me your questions.

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