As a human living in today’s society, there is a good chance you are interested in at least some form of smart home technology. Nearly every aspect of a home can now be improved or automated in some way. Not one to spend much money on yourself? Perhaps you’d like to vastly improve the lives of your pets first. You’ll be happy to know that smart tech for pets is an industry now, and it is constantly growing at impressive rates. With sales reaching $74 billion in 2014, the pet industry is expected to hit $91 billion by the end of this year. That is a lot of money for little family members who can’t even talk! Below, we’ll outline some of our favorite pet tech available, illustrating why this impressive industry is simply booming.
Pet trackers equipped with GPS are not a novel idea; anyone who has had a lost pet has probably wished their pet had a GPS tracker. There are plenty of options, but we feel the most comprehensive pet trackers come from the brand Whistle. What sets Whistle apart from its competitors is their pet trackers not only have GPS, but they essentially act as a pet FitBit, giving you all the information you could want on your pet’s health and fitness—all in one device.
The GPS and fitness monitor come on both models of the Whistle tracker. You can get the standard Whistle Go for $100. If you’d like to step it up and try the more expensive but more impressive Whistle Go Explore, you can get one for $130 and enjoy features like double battery life (20 days vs. 10 days on the base model), the ability to be submerged in much deeper water, and a night light you can control through your phone.
While those prices are reasonable for what the products offer, please note that a Whistle tracker is not something you purchase once and enjoy forever. You only have to buy the tracker once, but the tracker is supported by a free app for smartphones (giving you total control); this is great news, but do be aware that upon download the app will prompt you to purchase a subscription for Whistle. You have 3 options: you can pay a monthly fee of $10 (with a mandatory 12-month commitment), or you can pay ahead of time for a full year or 2 full years (1 year comes out to $8/month but you have to pay for it all upfront; the 2 year plan costs the most upfront but provides the most savings overall, coming in at $7/month).
If you have multiple pets you’d like to track, you can use the same app on your phone, but each pet needs their own tracker AND subscription. This is a great option for smaller families, but people who have many pets would probably find Whistle quite expensive. One final note that may sway you to try Whistle: if you purchase your tracker directly from the Whistle website, you have 90 days to return it for a full refund if you are not satisfied.
- Smart Pet Feeder — PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder
Generally speaking, a smart pet feeder is a connected device you control through your smartphone or computer, allowing you to schedule and manage feeding times, portions, and food supply for your pets. You can use it at home, but these are particularly great for pet owners who are frequently out of the house/town but want to maintain healthy feeding habits for their pets. As you can imagine, there are innumerable options out there with a large range of prices and unique features.
We’ve done our research and we think the best choice currently available is the PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder. It is available on Amazon for $180 and could be invaluable for the busy but loving pet owner. The Smart Feed allows you to set up to 12 meals to be dispensed to your pet on the schedule you outline. Additionally, you can customize portion size and use semi-moist food (most of the smart feeders only work with dry food) without issue. It’s also quite easy to clean and some parts are dishwasher safe.
No product is perfect, so we’ll be honest about the few flaws of this one. The main and likely most frustrating issue is that if it gets disconnected from your Wi-Fi, you have to manually reconnect it. Some of PetSafe’s competitors allow automatic reconnection to Wi-Fi, but lack in other areas where PetSafe shines. This is a smaller gripe, but it could potentially be bothersome: you have to check the feeder every so often because it does not tell you how much food is left inside. When it’s empty, it’s empty, and you have to find out yourself.
- Smart Water Bowl—Premier Pet 50 Oz. Pet Fountain
Since you understand smart feeders, smart water bowls are probably quite self-explanatory. We like the Premier Pet option the best because it works well enough to keep your pet satisfied and it costs much less than most smart tech (for pets or humans). Available for $20 through Walmart, the Premier Pet Fountain provides your cat or small dog with 50 ounces of fresh, filtered water. It has a pump to circulate the water through 2 filtration systems, so the water is always perfect for your pet. (Note: This is for any cat or small dogs; bigger dogs will need a bigger bowl).
- Pet Camera — Furbo Dog Camera
In the same way most parents like monitors to watch their babies, pet owners generally love the option to watch their fur babies from afar. You can get a regular security camera to achieve this, but there are many pet-specific cameras with extra features for pet owners, putting standard security cameras to shame.
Most of the pet cameras we’ve researched can be for dogs or cats, but our absolute favorite one is specifically for dogs. It’s called the Furbo Dog Camera. With the Furbo, you get a ton of wonderful features, including: a real-time alert that sends push notifications to your phone whenever your dog barks, the ability to remotely toss your dog treats through the camera, HD video, two-way audio so you can talk to your pet and hear them as well, and more!
- Smart Hub for Pets — CleverPet
Face it: When you’re not home to walk or play with your dog, they are more likely to get into trouble or tear up your house/furniture due to the lack of stimulation. This is why we love smart hubs for pets, like the CleverPet. It is touted as the first gaming console for pets. CleverPet has tons of games for your dog to play and stay entertained, and it will reward your dog with treats when they successfully complete a game. The accompanying smartphone app gives you total control and the ability to track your dog’s progress.
- Smart Pet Door — PetSafe Electronic SmartDoor
Doggie doors and the like are not new, but now we have smart pet doors that put the standard doors to shame. It lets your pet in and out as they please, of course, but it is programmed in a way that only your own pets can use the door. If a stray or wild animal tried to get in your house, the door would not open for them. It helps your dog and your peace of mind about safety. Our favorite is PetSafe’s version because it has great features at a fair price.
- Self-Cleaning Litter Box — Litter-Robot
As much as people love their cats, nobody enjoys cleaning a litter box. Luckily, smart pet tech has the perfect solution in the form of self-cleaning litter boxes. The Litter-Robot features a unique sifting system that separates waste from clean litter, depositing the clumps into the built-in waste drawer below. Like most tech on this list, Litter-Robot has a smartphone app, and you can turn on notifications to alert you when the box needs attention. When this happens, you can simply control the litter box from your phone.
- Smart Pet Toy — PETGEEK Automatic Dog Bone Toy
There are many options for smart pet toys out there and you should choose one based on your dog’s habits and needs. For example, some are made specifically for heavy chewers, and others can’t handle much chewing but are great for dogs that like to chase things. We recommend the PetGeek automatic dog bone toy because it is the most affordable yet the highest rated one we can find. Note: this particular toy is not for dogs that chew everything. With a simple pat of the toy, it is activated and will begin to move in random motions/patterns to keep your dog entertained for hours.
- Smart Treadmill for Cats — The Little Cat
Whether you’re trying to help your overweight cat slim down or you simply want to provide more entertainment/exercise, The Little Cat smart treadmill is fantastic. It is connected to an app and allows owners to set the pace for their cat (if you don’t, The Little Cat will determine your cat’s weight and personalize an exercise for it) as well as keep track of their cat’s progress and offer encouragement through a recorded voice message that can be played on demand. This can be an incredible investment, but be prepared to pay for it; it hasn’t been released just yet, but the projected price point is nearly $2,000.
Similar to the smart litter box mentioned above, the InuBox collects, processes, and contains liquid and solid waste your pet leaves behind. However, this is vastly different than the other smart litter boxes because it was made specifically for dogs. It has features to encourage your dog to start using it, as most dogs are obviously unfamiliar with litter boxes. When they use it, they are positively reinforced with a treat dispenser by InuBox.