Smart devices aren’t just for humans. In fact, there are many smart home products with technology designed specifically to pamper our pets, allowing us to monitor and interact with them and even dispense food and treats remotely.
Being able to feed your faithful companions on a regular schedule while you’re at work or out during the day is the forte of these techy pet helpers. Here are two of the top contenders:
Petnet Pet Feeder ($150)
An industry leader, this device holds up to 7 pounds of dry food and dispenses a predetermined amount at set intervals or remotely as needed via a smartphone app. Petnet also weights and tracks the amount of food your pet eats. By entering your pet’s weight, activity level, age and other data, Petnet will also determine the proper amount of food for your cat or dog using a vet-created algorithm. Petnet also interfaces with the Nest Cam, allowing owners to watch their pets when they are eating.
Feed and Go ($250)
This pricier WiFi-connected model does many of the same things at the Petnet but can serve up to 6 portions of both wet and dry food as well as your pet’s medication and treats. Once the feeding schedule is set, is it stored on the device and will function properly even if connectivity is lost or interrupted. Feed and Go has its own built-in camera that allows you to view your furry companion and also records audio messages that you can play for your pet remotely.
Think of smart collars as animal activity trackers. These small devices attach to your dog’s collar and monitor their whereabouts and exercise levels. FitBark and Whistle 3 are two very popular pet tech products.
This FitBit for Fido will monitor your dog’s daily activity level and will even suggest the appropriate amount based on your pet’s size, weight, age and breed. The interactive smart phone app lets you know if the optimum level is reached or if a short walk or rousing game of fetch is warranted upon your return home. FitBark also monitors your dog’s sleeping patterns, giving pet owner’s insights into their dog’s health and wellbeing.
Whistle 3 ($80 plus $10/month fee)
In addition to tracking your dog’s exercise, Whistle 3 also keeps an ‘eye’ on wandering pets via GPS. A PC Magazine Editor’s Choice Award Winner, for an additional $10 monthly fee, Whistle 3 allows you to set a prearranged WiFi ‘safe zone’ and when your dog moves outside of this area, you will receive an alert on the smart phone app. You can pinpoint your pet’s location on a digital map, making those extensive neighborhood searches a thing of the past.
Smart Litter Boxes
Cleaning out our cat’s litter box is never high on the list of favorite tasks but technology saves the day!
Litter-Robot III Open Air ($450)
Though a bit on the pricey side, the Litter-Robot III spares cat lovers the unenviable chore of litter box maintenance. It auto-cleans after each use, places the waste into a separate drawer beneath the unit. Yes, the disposal drawer eventually needs emptied and you will be alerted when it does, but it is a much simpler task. The unit also includes charcoal filters for odor control, has a night-light and 24-48 hour battery backup system. Quiet, efficient and spacious, it is ideal for cats of all sizes as well as multiple cat households.
Tailio WiFi Litter Box ($200)
Though this unit doesn’t clean the litter box, when placed beneath your cat’s litter box, this WiFi-connected device monitors your cat’s health by tracking its behavior’s weight and other vital data. Tailio intelligently learns who is using the litter box by ‘understanding subtle differences in the individual physiology ad behavior. The information is gathered by the unit for multiple felines and sent to the cloud, where analytics learn each of your pet’s profiles and alert you via a mobile app if something is amiss.
Smart Pet Cameras
Many of us want to keep an eye on our pets while they’re home and we are away. Smart cameras allow us to do just that while others up the ante, enabling us to interact with our companions.
Nest Cam ($199)
This popular smart home device does double duty as a pet cam with 24/7 live streaming video, a mobile app and 2-way audio, encouraging a remote ‘conversation.’
“Digital daycare for the Home-Alone Dog and Cat”, PetChatz is packed with features, connectivity and interactive entertainment. Designed specifically to function as a pet cam, PetChatz offers 2-way audio and video and can be remotely operated via a mobile app that allows you to dispense treats and play Fido’s favorite shows on DogTV to keep him company. The app also allows owners to play a variety of games with their furry friends and an aromatherapy scent release system to help calm and sooth your pets. And, for an extra $100, you can have a PawCall device, which allows your pet to call your smart phone with the push of a button when they’re feeling lonely. (Depending upon the pet, this function could get interesting….)
Petzi Treat Cam ($170)
Petzi allows pets and their owners to talk live and enables you to take photos as well as dispense treats remotely.
PetCube Play ($199)
Similar to the Nest Cam, the interactive PetCube has 2-way audio and the ability to record short videos. Its defining feature is the certified safe laser toy that can be controlled from your smart phone, great for cats that enjoy a rousing game of ‘chase the dot.’ This compact unit also has a 3X digital zoom and night vision features so you can see in no or low light conditions.
It goes without saying that technology can never replace personal interaction and care of your pet but they can prove helpful for making sure your animals are well fed, entertained and safe while you are away and they are home alone.