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Automatic feeders and waterers: they can be helpful when you're not at home--but these items of convenience should be chosen carefully.

Obviously, every dog requires a food and water dish, but which one best fits his or her needs? We're all familiar with the typical stationary dishes--the ones with the cute colors and clever designs, or your pet's name printed on the side. These types of dishes have been around for many years and are fine for most dogs. Automatic feeders and waterers, on the other hand, can aid animals that have health-related or behavioral issues or serve as a convenience for owners.

To help determine whether an automatic feeder and waterer would be beneficial for your household, ask yourself these questions:

* Am I away from home several hours each day?

* Does my dog need to eat at a certain time (i.e., because of a medical condition like diabetes)?

* Do I need to feed my dog a specific portion of food at each meal (for medical reasons or for weight control)?

* Does my dog enjoy drinking water out of the toilet?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then read on to learn more about the various types of automatic feeders and waterers and how to select the right model for your needs.

There are two main types of automatic feeders and waterers, and we'll discuss their differences.

Gravity-Style Waters and Feeders

The gravity-style feeder consists of a plastic canister that holds a supply of dry food and snaps onto the base (or bowl) of the unit. Since animals receive unrestricted access to dry food with a gravity-style feeder, it's important to monitor your pet's weight to ensure that he or she doesn't start packing on the pounds.

The gravity-style waterer is also a two-piece unit, with a plastic canister to hold the water and a detachable reservoir (bowl). Both the canister and reservoir should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week to remove bacteria, mold and algae buildup. These types of feeders and waterers are simple in design, easy to clean and inexpensive. They can be found at all pet stores or through online pet retailers.

Electronic Feeders. Electronic feeders are typically battery-operated or electric units that plug into a standard household outlet (make sure the product is UL listed for safety). The automatic feeder uses a programmable timer so that your pet receives a single meal at a predetermined time. Electronic feeders are more expensive than their gravity-style counterparts but offer a key advantage: They are useful if you plan on being away from home on a regular basis and want to maintain consistent feeding times and portion control for your pet.

Provides Running Water. Like humans, all dogs need fresh drinking water in order to stay healthy. But some dogs don't end up getting enough H2O simply because they don't like the taste of stagnant tap water in their bowl; or they seem to prefer drinking fresh, running water from the faucet. An electronic waterer solves this problem by providing a continuous supply of fresh drinking water for your dog.

Many units can hold a gallon or more of water and include a waterfall to aerate the water with healthful oxygen. Electronic waterers come with a replaceable charcoal filter, don't require a separate water line, and use very little electricity. As with gravity-style waterers, it's important to clean your electronic waterer frequently and replace the filter every six to eight weeks (more often if you live in an area with hard water).

Whether you choose a simple gravity-style unit or an electronic one, automatic feeders and waterers provide a convenient way to ensure that your dog is getting all his or her nutritional needs met when you're away from home.

CLEANLINESS IS IMPORTANT. Take the time to regularly clean your dog's feeding and watering devices.


Please note: Some tables or figures were omitted from this article.
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Title Annotation:HELPFUL HINTS
Publication:Dog Watch
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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