5 Tech Devices for Savvy Dog Parents
Use the newest pet technology to keep your pooch happier, healthier and safer
Fido can’t send a text message with his whereabouts. He can’t fix himself dinner if you’re having a long day at work. Nor does he have a Facebook page to help you keep tabs on him while you’re on vacation. So how about investing in a little tech for your furry friend? Here are some gadgets to strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
Whistle Activity Monitor
Top nerve-wracking problems for dog owners include trusting your pet with another caretaker, making sure his daily health needs are being met and tracking him down and finding him if he were to get lost. The Whistle Activity Monitor ($99) helps with all three of these challenges.
Whistle is a rugged little Bluetooth device, weighing in at about half an ounce and measuring approximately 1.5 inches across. It can mount to nearly any standard-size collar and uses Wi-Fi to send data to your phone. Waterproof and rechargeable, it should last through all of your canine’s capers.
To use, you’ll need to download the free accompanying app to your smartphone. After a brief setup you can start tracking your dog’s activity level and rest periods. If your family, friends and pet sitters download the app, you can also track how much time they spend with your dog. You can set activity goals and log food and medication, as well as adding other notes and reminders.
Whistle recently acquired Tagg, a pet tracking device that was formerly its competitor. This means that new devices are likely to include GPS tracking capabilities, a godsend to pet owners who have an escape artist to wrangle.
Voyce (activity tracker)
Like Whistle, Voyce is an activity tracker that monitors your pup’s activity levels. Voyce is more expensive than Whistle (about $299, plus monthly or annual membership fees), but it tracks vital health statistics that Whistle does not. It’s designed to help you and your vet detect common ailments like heart disease, respiratory issues and pain before these issues make themselves obvious and become difficult to treat.
The Voyce unit comes attached to its own collar, so you won’t be able to mount it on the cute one you already own. But the rechargeable, waterproof device uses non-invasive sensors to track resting heart rate, respiratory rate, activity and rest patterns, all in a dog’s natural environment. The band comes in four different sizes that fit necks 12 to 32 inches.
Voyce syncs up with your desktop, tablet, or smartphone via Wi-Fi. To set it up, charge your unit and use your computing device to connect to the Voyce Online Member Portal, then enter your dog’s information. Note that access to the Voyce portal requires a membership fee — either $9.95 per month or $99.95 per year.
Related: When to Take a Sick Pet to the Vet
Why watch other animals on YouTube when you could be watching your own? Gain some insight on what your pets do when you’re not around by using PetCube, a remote wireless camera (an estimated $199).
What elevates it over your typical webcam? Its two-way audio stream means that you can use your smartphone to talk to your pets through the camera unit, helping you catch — and stop — any misbehaving even when you’re not home. You can also keep your pet amused with the integrated laser pointer feature.
The camera is a sleek 4 inch x 4 inch unit that can rest on a surface or be mounted on a tripod. It plugs in a standard U.S. outlet and connects to your home wireless network. PetCube can be operated with most iOS or Android devices, with options to add more than one user.
Not all pet tech devices need Wi-Fi in order to be useful. The Nite Dawg LED Collar Cover (around $11.99) attaches to your dog’s collar whenever you want to increase his visibility. Adjustable and available in two colors, this reflective sleeve boasts bright, efficient red LED illumination that can be seen up to 1,000 feet away.
The LED can be set to continuous, flashing, or off. One (replaceable) battery gets 75 to100 hours of light. Weather resistant, lightweight and low profile, this light is a powerful, utilitarian option for dog owners who fit in their outings after dark. Reviewers praise it for its ease of use and ability to stand up to dog-linked dangers like mud, cold temperatures and briar patches. (Photo: Nite Ize)
Petnet Smart Feeder
Petnet (about $250) is a smart feeding system that helps you control your dog's food intake. It connects to your home’s Wi-Fi and communicates with your smartphone so you can remotely control the release of food and track your dog’s eating habits.
Petnet consists of a kibble container that releases a specific amount of food into its attached bowl at a scheduled time. The whole unit is strong, smooth and snaps into place, so there’s nothing for your dog to chew on and no way to access the food within (without opposable thumbs). While it's powered by electricity, it also has a battery backup, so you can rest assured your dog would not go hungry in a power outage. At the moment you can only request an invitation to Petnet, but it is slated to be available for purchase this spring.