Manufacturers of smart home equipment have about 84 million good reasons to target pet owners with their products.
That’s roughly how many U.S. households own a pet, with cats and dogs providing the lion’s share of four-legged friends, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey from the American Pet Product Association (APPA).
The pros at HomeAdvisor checked out some of the latest smart pet products. Read on—and watch the video above—to learn about some of our favorite picks and applications.
1. Put ‘Em on a ‘Smart’ Diet
Pets, like people, do better when their meals are spread throughout the day.
But training your ravenous Rover to space out feedings from his food bowl can be a tall order. Automated pet dispensers, like the $120 Petnet SmartFeeder in the video, make it easy. Simply fill the dispenser with food (like most feeders, this one holds enough vittles for several days) and then use the smart phone app to schedule feedings and set how much food comes out.
Besides making life easier for you, smart dispensers are helpful if your furry friend needs to shed a few pounds.
2. Always Know Your Pet’s Whereabouts
Got a pet with a case of wanderlust? Pet trackers will let you keep tabs on their location from your smart phone.
The device, like the Whistle GPS Pet Tracker seen in the video, typically consist of small trackers that slips onto your pet’s collar and syncs to your smart phone or computer.
Using the app, you can use geo-fencing technology to set safe zones, then receive alerts when your pet wanders beyond them. Most trackers cost between $75 and $200, plus a monthly subscription fee of around $10.
3. Say “Good Boy!” to Fido From Afar
A 2017 industry report found that nearly 40 percent of pet owners feel nervous leaving their pet at home. That explains why interactive WiFi cameras have found their way into pet care.
The $140 Petzi Treat Cam, featured in our video, even lets you reward your pet with a treat from the built-in dispenser, which you control via the smart phone app. Some cameras also feature remote-control laser toys, which let you provide a bit of play time and exercise from anywhere in the world.
Note that cameras can be too much to handle for some animals. “Every pet and owner relationship is different, so if you have a pet that tends to get more anxiety communicating with you when you’re not there, then it might be best for just a one-way camera to keep an eye on them,” says APPA spokesperson Tierra Bonaldi.
4. Get Help With The Litter Box
Nobody likes cleaning the litter box. What’s more, if you don’t stay on top of the task, odors quickly permeate. A smart litter box solves both problems by automatically raking waste into a disposable container.
The $130 ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box in our video comes with odor-absorbing crystals and a covered trap that locks away any lingering smells. Other high-IQ boxes include health counters that track how many times kitty visits the box, as well as pH levels in urine to help prevent urinary tract infections and bladder infections.
Dan’s Bottom Line
Given how much Americans love their pets, this trend in smart home technology should have serious legs. And once pet owners discover the benefit of connected devices to their cat or dog, they’ll be more inclined to find their own uses for it in the home, whether it’s another set of cameras to keep an eye on the kids or a geo-fence thermostat that knows to turn the heat on or off once they get a certain distance from home.
Like the saying goes, pets teach us a lot about life. That includes the benefits of smart home technology.