There are many automatic pet fountains to choose from, but there are also quite a few differences between brands. This quick guide helps you decide which drinking fountain is best for your pet.
With an automatic pet water fountain, you’ll spend less time refilling your pet’s water dish, and your dog or cat will be able to enjoy as much fresh, clean water as he or she needs.
If you are thinking about getting an automatic water fountain for your pet, you may have already begun the shopping process. Perhaps you’ve seen a few of the basic models available at large pet stores, or maybe you’ve only spent time shopping online. Whatever the case, there are a few different features to look for as you decide which is the best automatic pet waterer!
We have written this buyer’s guide to provide you with valuable insight concerning the advantages and disadvantages of some of the most popular pet water fountains, so that you can head into the shopping process well-informed and ultimately make a decision that you’re happy with.
Types of Automatic Pet Water Fountains
Before choosing an automatic waterer for your pet, you’ll find it helpful to know a bit about each basic type. We’ll begin with the simplest, least complicated one and move on to the one with the most features.
Basic Gravity-Fed Water Dispenser
The first type of automatic pet water dispenser is the basic gravity-fed water dispenser. It works by releasing water from a reservoir into the drinking dish. The water does not circulate; it simply flows into the dish on demand, so your pet never runs out of water. Both the Heyrex Torus and PetSafe Healthy Pet Water Stations are very good examples. Both come in a variety of sizes and offer the advantage of an optional filter that removes odors, chlorine, and sediment.
One disadvantage to basic gravity-fed water dispensers is that they don’t circulate the water, and anything that ends up in your pet’s dish will need to be removed manually since the system won’t catch it in a filter. The second disadvantage is that many of the water dispensers sold in stores are made with plastic that contains harmful BPA. Both the PetSafe Healthy Pet and Heyrex Torus are good choices, since they are BPA-free.
There are a few advantages to gravity-fed water dispensers. First, they rely on gravity and can go anywhere. You don’t have to worry about having a power supply, and you never have to wonder whether the batteries are going to run out.
Pump-Driven Water Fountain
At the other end of the spectrum are pump-driven water fountains that rely on electricity to keep water moving. Some, such as the K&H Manufacturing CleanFlow Water Filter with Reservoir combine gravity-fed water with a pump that circulates the water in the drinking area, filtering out any debris that has been trapped. It’s a good choice for anyone who suffers from frequent power outages, as water will still flow into the drinking reservoir on demand while you’re away.
Other models, such as the PetSafe Drinkwell fountain, circulate water continuously and will stop dispensing water in the event of a power outage. Don’t let this stop you from choosing one though; whatever water is in the reservoir will remain there so your pet can continue to drink, and water will begin to circulate again when the power comes back on.
A major advantage to pump driven water fountains is that they oxygenate water to keep it tasting fresh, plus they generally do a fantastic job of removing debris. Most pets prefer to drink from a moving water source, and they tend to enjoy these drinking fountains more than others.
Consider Your Reasons for Wanting an Automatic Pet Water Fountain and Read Reviews
Before choosing an automatic pet water fountain, it’s a good idea to think about what will work best for you and your pet, and to take a look at different options. By making a quick checklist, you’ll find it is fast and easy to compare your needs with the features on available models.
Some things to consider include:
- Appearance – Some pet water fountains are purely utilitarian, while others offer outstanding aesthetic appeal. As looks go, PetSafe Drinkwell automatic pet water fountains are among the most stylish, with cool ceramic and stainless steel designs that provide your pet with hydration while simultaneously looking fantastic in your home. Pioneer Pet offers several very attractive choices as well, in both stainless steel and ceramic options.
- Size – Automatic pet water fountains come in a variety of sizes. Most of the brands that we reviewed come in a few different sizes, so you can choose the one that will work best for your pet. As a general guide, a ½ gallon size is ideal for a cat or small dog, and can be used for larger pets although it will need to be refilled at least once daily if you choose to use it for a dog weighing about 50 pounds or more. A 1-gallon pet water fountain will last a 50-pound dog about 2 days, and a 2.5-gallon drinker will last a 50-pound pet approximately 5 days. Of course, you will need to make adjustments for active pets or pets that need to drink more water during hot weather! Keep a close eye on the waterer to ensure that it’s full. Additionally, you might need to add water to keep the motor running on pump-driven models.
- Indoor or outdoor operation – Almost all automatic water dispensers are designed to be operated indoors only. There are a few exceptions, including the K&H CleanFLow water filter with reservoir.
- Dishwasher safe? – Many automatic pet water fountains have dishwasher safe components. Washing your pet’s bowl with soap and very hot water removes debris and bacteria, and the task is easier and more convenient when you let your dishwasher do the dirty work! Many PetSafe Drinkwell water fountains are dishwasher safe, and so are some others, including ceramic and stainless steel models from Pioneer Pet.
- Resists Tipping – All of the automatic pet water fountains that we’ve reviewed are nearly impossible for pets to tip over, and that’s something that you’re going to want to look for unless your pets have mellow personalities! If your pets are extra-rambunctious, you can prevent tipping by putting the water fountain in a corner.
Once you have narrowed your choices down to just a few options, it’s a good idea to read some reviews to see what others have experienced while using these automatic water fountains for their pets. This is sure to pay off, particularly if you read with a critical eye for details. Some tips for reading pet drinking fountain reviews follow:
- Look for reviews that talk about various features on the fountains you are considering, and don’t give much weight to the ones that simply say that the unit is fantastic or terrible without providing some explanation for the opinion. You want to learn as much as you can before making an investment in an automatic pet waterer.
- Look for pet water fountain reviews that break the features down and provide specific information about how they work. You’ll be surprised at the kinds of details you will find when you start reading reviews.
- Recognize that as with all “automatic” things, pet water fountains are manufactured in factories where things can and do go wrong. Even the best or highest-priced models might fail straight from the box. Defects are usually covered by warranties, and you shouldn’t let a few scary reviews prevent you from trying the water fountain that appeals to you most.
Where to Buy an Automatic Pet Water Fountain
While some large pet stores sell one or two different types of automatic pet water fountains, brick and mortar stores don’t usually have a large selection to choose from. You are most likely to find the model you want at a price that appeals to you by shopping online at sites that carry a wide variety of merchandise, i.e. Amazon.
Remember to factor in the unit’s cost, different features, convenience, and of course quality as you make your decision.
All in all, the best automatic pet water fountain is the one that meets your budget, is the right size for your pet, and is a good match for your home’s design. It’s one that will be convenient for you to use and maintain, and most importantly, one that your pet will be able to use comfortably.
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