Wearables have arrived in the domestic animal kingdom. Caring pet guardians are using GPS or Wi-Fi-powered electronic collars to do everything from track a pet’s eating and sleeping habits, activity levels, and location, to monitoring overall health and fitness over time, all with the help of mobile apps that constantly record and send information to your smartphone. But it’s a jungle out there.
With so many pet trackers and companion apps to choose from, it’s hard to figure out which one will best serve you and your pet, so here are a few things to consider as you search for a tracker for your Fido or Fluffy.
Picking a pet tracker
For the device itself, comfort is paramount. You want something comfy and adjustable so your dog or cat will not have to endure some heavy, klutzy weight on their bodies in your effort to keep them healthy and safe. Ideally, the tracker should be waterproof, so doggo can go for a swim or get caught in the rain. It should have a removable battery or be easy to remove from the collar or harness so you don’t have to wrangle your pet just to keep the thing charged.
Look for a system that has a high-quality app that can track real-time location as closely as possible. Some tracker systems have perimeter alerts or electronic fences that warn you when your pet gets too adventurous and wanders out of a specified geographic range. If your pet suffers from any kind of weight issues, activity monitoring can be super helpful. Other than that, you might also check the level of customer service or if the design of the device allows for improvements or updates to the hardware or software. Trackers that use GPS are much more accurate than Bluetooth trackers, which transmit location only if they’re within Bluetooth range of your phone.
The dog lovers at Digital Trends have already tested a few of these devices, and have had some positive experiences with the likes of Whistle Go Explore, Findster Duo, Samsung Smart Things Tracker, and the Link AKC Smart Collar. We’ve included versions of some of those in our listing of the best pet trackers.
Whistle Go Explore
Both Whistle Go and Whistle Go Explore mix GPS tracking, fitness, and health monitoring into one device. Both let you pinpoint your pet’s precise location with real-time tracking and monitor various behaviors like licking and scratching, which may be early warning signs of health issues. You’ll always know where your pet went and with whom and you can set and track fitness goals based on age, weight, and breed, and review weekly reports that summarize your pet’s activities.
Whistle GO Explore has a longer battery life — up to 20 days on a single charge — and a built-in light for evening walks or as a beacon to spot your dog in the dark. Attach the device to your pet’s collar, and customize the Whistle app to send alerts and notifications to friends, family, or sitters. You can set up a Safe Place such as home, vacation home, dog sitter for your pet using Wi-Fi and have multiple safe places. The device notifies you when your pet leaves and returns to their safe place. If your pet strays beyond Wi-Fi range, the device uses cellular and GPS to tracking her anywhere in the U.S. It comes in a variety of bright colors. A subscription is required.
Findster Duo+ Pet Tracker
If you’d prefer not to shell out for a monthly app subscription, check out Findster Duo+. Because it employs the proprietary local wireless Maze technology, the tracker does not need a SIM card or cell connection. The waterproof and shock-resistant tracker lets you define a safe area around your pet’s location and notifies you if they leave the designated area.
Findster also works as an activity monitor. The range, which is targeted to outside walks, depends on your surroundings, but generally up to a half-mile in urban areas, and up to three miles in the open outdoors. With GPS always on, battery life is about 12 hours. But with GPS on only during walks, you can extend the battery life to cover several days. The modules are small, weighing about 8 ounces, and recommended for pets over 8 pounds.
Link AKC Smart Collar
The Link soft leather smart collar is designed for dogs who weigh at least 10 pounds. It offers a stylish collar with plenty of tech that lets you track your friend’s wellness, training, and safety. The collar has a rechargeable battery and features an innovative curved design that’s contoured to fit your dog’s neck. If she wanders off to places she shouldn’t go, you can automatically get an alert and track her location.
A handy smartphone app supplements the tracker with daily activity monitoring and customized recommendations based on dog age, breed, and gender. You can also store health records and keep a digital album. A remotely activated LED light provides extra safety at night and the remote sound can be used for positive reinforcement training. The device’s housing is durable, impact-resistant and waterproof up to three feet. Alongside the Link, you get the app, base station, carrier, and collar.
Tractive GPS 3G Tracker for Cats and Dogs
With Tractive GPS trackers you simply attach the device to your pet’s collar, letting you locate your four-legged loved one from almost anywhere on the planet, whether in the backyard or on the other side of the globe. The tracker’s electronic virtual fence instantly notifies you when your pet leaves a defined safe area like your backyard or neighborhood. The tracking pinpoint feature gives you the real-time location of your friend and updates every three seconds.
Tractive is especially well suited for outdoor activity as it is waterproof but also can show you where your pet is even in the house and where they have been in the recent past. Tractive GPS products can be used with both cats and dogs.
Bartun Mini Pet Tracker GPS Locator
If you have a smaller dog or cat, consider the Bartun mini pet tracker, which is designed for smaller animals — the wide part of the collar should be less than 0.8 inches with maximum collar size at 14 inches and minimum collar size at 9 inches. Despite its diminutive size, the waterproof, shockproof tracker is powerful, providing real-time tracking via GPS+LBS+AGPS networks and GPS satellites, locating and monitoring remote targets by SMS, APP, and the Internet. It can display location information up to 5 meters.
It integrates with an iOS and Android app or the website. The package includes a 2G Speedtalk SIM Card for either 1-USA Network Services for $4 per month or an International NetWork Services for $9 per month.
Sometimes minimal is all you need, depending on where you are, especially with independent felines who love to escape the house and go exploring the neighborhood. If that sounds like your kitty, you’ll want to know approximately where she’s hanging out, just in case.
The waterproof Cat Tailer — tiny and lightweight at 1.08 inches in diameter and 28 ounces — looks like a little charm you can hang off her collar. It is a Bluetooth tracking device — not GPS — with a 328-foot range via line of sight, with diminished range in the presence of cars, trees, and houses. The battery lasts for six months and it comes with a free app that will indicate whether your cat is in its range.
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