Wearables have arrived in the domestic animal kingdom. GPS and Wi-Fi-trackers allow caring owners to review their pet’s eating and sleeping habits, activity levels, and location. They even monitor their overall health and fitness over time, all with the help of mobile apps that continuously 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. Here are a few things to consider as you search for a tracker for 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 a klutzy device. 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 issue, activity monitoring can be super helpful.
Also consider the level of customer service provided and whether the company handles improvements and updates to the hardware and 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 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.
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. You can also review weekly activity reports
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 (home, vacation home, dog sitter’s house) using Wi-Fi, and you can have multiple safe places. The device notifies you when your pet leaves and returns to their safe place. If your pet strays beyond the Wi-Fi range, the tracker uses cellular and GPS to track him or her anywhere in the U.S. It comes in a variety of bright colors. A subscription is required.
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 depends on your surroundings, but it generally works up to 0.5 miles in urban areas and up to 3 miles in the outdoors. With GPS always on, battery life is about 12 hours. With GPS only enabled during walks, you can extend the battery life to cover several days. The modules are small, weighing about 8 ounces, and they’re recommended for pets over 8 pounds.
Designed for dogs who weigh at least 10 pounds, the Link soft leather smart collar offers a stylish tracker with plenty of technology that lets you track your friend’s wellness, training, and safety. It has a rechargeable battery and features an innovative curved design that’s contoured to fit your dog’s neck. If your pet wanders off somewhere unexpected, you can automatically get an alert and track the location.
A handy smartphone app supplements the tracker with daily activity monitoring and customized recommendations based on the dog’s 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 a remote microphone for positive reinforcement training is included. The device’s housing is durable, impact-resistant, and waterproof up to 3 feet. Alongside the Link, you get the app, base station, carrier, and collar.
With Tractive GPS trackers, you simply attach the device to your pet’s collar, letting you locate a 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.
Tractive is exceptionally well-suited for outdoor activity since it’s waterproof, but it can monitor your cat or dog at home or at appointments, and you can also view a history of their recent locations. The tracking pinpoint feature gives you the real-time coordinates of your friend and updates every three seconds.
If you have a smaller dog or cat, consider the Bartun mini pet tracker designed for smaller animals — the thickest part of the collar should be less than 0.8 inches, with the maximum collar size at 14 inches and the minimum collar size at 9 inches. Despite its tiny size, the waterproof, shockproof tracker is robust, providing real-time tracking via GPS, LBS, and AGPS networks. The tracker is capable of 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 International NetWork Services for $9 per month.
Sometimes a minimal tracker is all you need, depending on where you are, especially with independent felines who love to escape the house and go exploring around the neighborhood. If that sounds like your kitty, you’ll want to know 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, though the range can be affected by cars, trees, and houses. The battery lasts for six months, and it comes with a free app that will indicate if your cat is in its range.
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