Every pet owner has done it; in the middle of a mad dash out the door to work, you suddenly remember that the dog hasn’t eaten breakfast yet, so you grab a quick handful of kibble and toss it into the dish for your poor furry friend. Later that evening, you’re stuck in traffic as your pup is patiently waiting for dinner, but you arrive home only to find out that you’re completely out of pet food, so you give them some leftover chicken and hope that tides them over until the morning. Or, perhaps you’ve just found that it’s easier to leave a big bowl of food down for Fluffy to help themselves to a snack whenever they’re hungry; while that’s a solution that allows your pet to eat regularly, for many of cats and dogs the pounds quickly start piling on and your veterinarian starts to spout phrases like ‘overfeeding’ and ‘obesity’ at their next visit.
So what’s a pet owner to do? The struggle to feed our friends properly is a pretty common issue for pet owners everywhere – amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be tough to remember small details like the exact amount of food you gave the dog today, or the calorie count of the treats your partner gave the cat yesterday morning. Trying to figure out which food is the best by reading the labels on the bag is also a huge pain for many pet owners, and to add to that, we even struggle with how much food to give them in the first place; each food formula is different, and the recommended portion size can even be different between each flavour in a food brand – whew!
In spite of our busy routines, though, we do love our pets, and most of us realize that consistently managing our pet’s mealtimes is a great way to keep them happy and healthy – after all, don’t we feel better when we’re eating right? There are a number of reasons why regular portioned meals are a good idea for our furry friends; while the prevention of obesity is an obvious one, meal feeding (versus free feeding) is also one of the best ways for owners to see how their cat or dog is feeling on a daily basis, since a change in appetite can mean something just isn’t right. How are pet owners supposed to reconcile this desire to keep their pets healthy with their jam-packed schedules, though?
The good news is that, since we live in an age of technology that’s far more advanced and affordable than even a few decades ago, portioned pet feeding devices have been on the market for several years already. Hang on a minute, however; though automatic pet feeders are nothing new, older models had their drawbacks – either they needed resetting every day, or they didn’t dispense more than a few meals per cycle, or they were unreliable mechanically. Since the advent of smart devices like interactive phones, watches and other gadgets, though, this handy technology has made the leap into the realm of pet food nutrition, resulting in more usable devices and making it easier than ever to control your pet’s feeding from a distance.
One of the latest and, arguably, most intelligently designed automatic feeders available today is the PetNet Smart Feeder. Blending convenience with intelligent tech, this feeder doesn’t just dispense your pup’s meals on schedule – it actually customizes a precise meal experience for your particular pet’s needs (and no, I’m not kidding). So how does this SmartFeeder do that? Well, like any other automatic feeder, you can program it to feed your favorite furry pal in specific portions and schedules, but here’s where it goes a step (or ten) further; the device communicates with a dedicated app on your smartphone, allowing you to input your pet’s breed, weight, age and activity level. With this information, the app then draws from an enormous database of pet food brands to suggest the most ideal food type and portion sizes for your tail waggin’ sidekick, while sensitive sensors built into the feeder keep track of feeding times, food supply and battery level, shooting rapid notifications right to you – no matter where in the world you are! You can remotely change your pet’s portions or meal times as you need to, and when the kibble level starts getting low (thought the hopper can hold up to 7lb), the app will prompt a re-order, with food delivered right to your door.
As for looks? Let’s just say that pet lovers with a more highly developed sense of aesthetics won’t be disappointed either. The SmartFeeder is far from being a clunky gadget – in fact, I’d even call it sleek, with clean lines in simple black and stainless steel that are reminiscent of the iPhone itself; however, it’s easily washable and low maintenance too, with a rechargable battery that will please the eco-concious and economical owner alike. While the SmartFeeder only boasts compatability with iOS 8.0 and above at the moment, it does work across several iPhone generations, as well as with the iPad and iPod touch.
While it seems that the beta version has a few small kinks that are still being ironed out (a few users report occasional food jams with certain kibble shapes), the PetNet SmartFeeder is definitely one of the pack leaders when it comes to incorporating interactive features in order to make feeding our pets more simple. It’s certainly a boon for those extra busy pet lovers among us, and knowing that you can take care of your furry family member’s needs from almost anywhere is sure to provide reassurance that our pets are ok when we can’t be there with them. There’s also the extra bonus of knowing that we’re keeping our dogs and cats completely satisfied, yet still at a healthy weight and feeling great – and that’s something that every pet owner should be able to get behind!