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I love my dogs, I want them to be happy. I also love to travel, I want me to be happy. My dogs are happy when they're at home. This includes when we go out of town. So, when we first started taking yearly trips as a family, I made it my quest to figure out what I needed to do to keep those pups safe and cared for while I wasn't here. (read more)
The first thing I need to make sure you know is that we live on a lot of land. All of our land is fenced and secure. We don't bail on our dogs for a week, leave them in a run outside and say, "Deuces, see ya!"
They have a dog door they can go in and out of. Our house is heated and air conditioned. They have a Big Barker that keeps them cozy, etc. Basically they are spoiled, furry children.
Except we can leave them for a week and no one calls CPS.
THINKING OF GETTING A BIRD, READ THIS FIRST
NOT JUST AN AUTOMATIC DOG FEEDER
The first time we left them home for a week, I was freaking out. They are my babies, I'm always home with them since I homeschool my kids.
They're not used to being without their people, and I was really worried they'd sit around and pine for us instead of eating their food.
Of course, that didn't happen.
We thought about boarding them someplace, but the idea of taking my two big dogs who are used to acres and acres of space, and sticking them in a little pen for a week.
It makes me sad just thinking about it.
NOT that I'm judging you if you board your dogs. Leaving them home when you vacation isn't an option for everyone.
We already had a Lixit waterer that lets them drink on demand, but we'd never really looked into something that would let them eat on demand.
More importantly, I wasn't even sure I wanted to do that. We have two dogs. One of them will eat when he's hungry. The other will eat if there is food, period.
I don't know if it's because she was a rescue and kept in a laundry room for most of her life until we got her, or if it's just how she'd be no matter what, but she has no concept of stopping when you're full.
She stops when things start hurting, or at least I think that's when she stops. I've tried hard never to let her test her limit of eating.
So I needed a dog feeder that wasn't like that, you know? It couldn't just be something that you dumped food into and the dogs had all day access to, like this:
If your dogs can practice the art of moderation, be glad for it, cause it's going to save you a lot of money when you buy a feeder.
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METAL OUTDOOR AUTO DOG FEEDERS
What I needed was something we could hook up to a large battery, like say, the kind that comes in your kid's Power Wheels. I needed to be able to put a full bag of dog food in it, set a timer for it to go off at least twice a day, and trust that it would run when I wasn't home.
The last thing I wanted to do was worry about my dogs not being fed because of a malfunctioning product.
This meant it had to be heavy duty. Nothing plastic, nothing light. This model would not cut it:
Although, I wish that feeder would cut it, because it's a great idea! I mean, separate RFID tags your pet wears so only that pet can access the feeder when it's time to eat? That's kind of genius...
My pig dog would knock it over, spill the food out, and eat it all in a few minutes. Also, it only holds 30 cups. Between our two dogs, they probably go through six cups a day, minimum, so this might last me five days, not a solid seven.
I really need seven. Really I need like ten days, that way I can be sure it'll NEVER run out!
So, I thought about it. Surely someone makes an automatic dog feeder with timer?
And then I thought about the other metal feeders with timers that I knew about.
Deer feeders, of course!
And that's how I found Lamco.
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LAMCO DOG FEEDERS
It makes sense to me that Lamco would make dog feeders. I mean, they make deer feeders with timers. These things stay outside, they've got to be heavy duty.
Just slap a tray and funnel on it, and turn that thing into an automatic timed dog feeder. Perfect!
We purchased our Lamco feeder almost 10 years ago, and have never looked back. It still runs like a champ, even though we only use it when we go on vacation.
The rest of the year it sits in the garage, not getting used at all.
When we need it, we open that side panel you see, pull out the rechargeable 6 volt battery, plug it into our Noco charger to make sure it's topped up, then put it back in the feeder.
The feeder has an easy to use timer that lets you preset up to six feeding times.
You can also tell it how long you want the feeder to run each time, anywhere from one second to 30 seconds. We do one second, three times each day.
There's a removable tray on the bottom that you can pick up and clean if it gets funky.
The top and battery panel screw on with lug nuts so your dogs (or maybe raccoons) can't open it up and eat the food while you're away, or somehow disconnect the battery.
You can make it feed your pets on a constant basis as long as you keep the hopper full, or you can do like we do and use it as needed.
The hopper holds about 30 pounds of dog or cat food, so basically one LARGE bag.
For our dogs, there is more than enough for a full two weeks of feeding per bag, which is on par with what we use when we manually feed.
So, if you've been looking for a large automatic dog feeder, this is one I highly recommend. As a matter of fact, in all my years of owning it, I've never seen anything else like it.
Thanks, Lamco, we appreciate you!
Side note - You can find the Lamco Dog Feeder on Amazon, but it's much more expensive, so I wouldn't recommend it. You can double check, though, just to make sure there isn't someone selling it cheaper than the Lamco distribution site.
I really hope this helps you find a dog feeder that fits your needs. Enjoy that vacation, or just enjoy the time sleeping in, since you don't have to wake up and feed.