8 Best Pet GPS Trackers
With nearly 6.5 million animals winding up in shelters every year, pet GPS trackers help ensure more beloved cats and dogs find their way home.
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Why a pet GPS tracker?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters in the United States every year. Some of those animals may have been intentionally abandoned or surrendered, but many are truly loved and cherished members of a family who simply got lost. “The total number of pets that are lost would be even higher since some that go missing are found without entering a shelter and others, unfortunately, are never located,” says Jennifer Coates, DVM, who serves on the advisory board for Pet Life Today.
Helping to reunite some of those pets with their families is why pet GPS trackers were initially created. Find out 14 things animals in shelters wish you knew.
What is a pet GPS tracker?
“A GPS tracker is not going to prevent a pet from getting lost, but it can help a pet owner be more proactive about finding their pet,” says Erin Askeland, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, pet expert, and animal health and behavior consultant of Camp Bow Wow. And if you’ve ever wondered what to do if your pet is missing, pet GPS trackers help lost animals be located quickly once their owner realizes they’re gone.
How do pet GPS trackers work?
Pet GPS trackers help reduce the number of lost pets in a few different ways. “Some GPS trackers will send out a notification if a pet leaves a predetermined ‘safe zone’ like their house and yard or they allow owners to pinpoint their pet’s exact location on a map in real-time,” says Dr. Coates. “All of these features let owners quickly locate and retrieve lost pets.” These pet reunion stories will melt your heart.
What animals can pet GPS trackers be used for?
“GPS trackers can be used for almost any animal, though dogs and cats are the most common,” says Sara Ochoa, DVM, a small animal and exotic veterinarian in Texas and a veterinary consultant for Doglab When it comes to differences between pet GPS trackers for cats and dogs, she explains, “They are essentially the same; the cat trackers will just be smaller for your cat.”
But it’s not just pets that GPS trackers can be used for. “Some marine animals will have GPS trackers placed in them before being released back into the wild. GPS trackers are very common on sea turtles to track their location.”
How much do pet GPS trackers cost?
Pet GPS trackers offer a range of features and reliability, so the pricing on them can vary widely as well. You’ll find trackers from as low as $28 to as high as $250. But pricing can also go beyond the initial purchase cost, as many pet GPS trackers also require monthly subscription fees to maintain GPS tracking.
“Owners have to balance choices regarding price and features when picking out a pet tracker,” says Dr. Coates. “Expensive models have more features but also generally require a monthly fee to cover their use of cellular networks. Cheaper models, like those that rely only on Bluetooth technology, do not have monthly fees but require you to be relatively close to your pet before you start getting information about its location.” Some also rely on community support, which is how the Internet is reuniting missing pets and their owners.
Are there any drawbacks of pet GPS trackers?
“GPS trackers depend on the owners to make sure they are charged and in good working order,” says Gilad Rom, founder of the Huan Pet Protection Network. “Most models run out of battery after several days or weeks, so owners need to make sure they keep them charged.”
He explains that the simple human error of failing to charge your pet GPS tracker could make this expensive tool useless. “Battery life should be your number one concern when dealing with any kind of pet-enabled tech. You must make sure it is 100 percent reliable when you need it the most.” And since many pets can be unpredictable, that’s pretty much all the time.
What should people consider when picking a pet GPS tracker?
Consider how you plan to use the pet GPS tracker and what your goals are, Askeland says, including if that’s:
- Being alerted if your pet exits your home or pre-set boundaries
- Tracking activity for fitness and health (note: there is no current scientific data on activity levels for pets and benefits to their health to track, though providing this info could help with goal-setting)
- Monitoring behavioral issues such as anxiety and pacing
From there, Askeland says to consider:
- If the device runs on a battery, how long does the battery last and how long will it take the device to charge?
- Is it waterproof and durable?
- Do you have to pay a subscription to use its tracking capabilities?
And she added, “You should also carefully look at the device’s specs. There are some trackers that are called that (GPS trackers) but are QR code reliant, meaning someone who finds the pet has to scan the QR code for you to get a location.”
Your answers to those questions will help you find the best device for you. Find out how much exercise your dog really needs.
The GPS tracker that works for pets…and everything else
Tile Pro is not technically a pet GPS tracker, but it can certainly be used as such according to Dr. Ochoa. “This is a tag that goes on your dog’s collar and is good for small dogs. These are very popular since they also can be used for many purposes, such as finding your misplaced purse or keys.”
Tile Pro is a Bluetooth tracker, which means no monthly service fees. But because it relies on emitting a tone to let you know where your lost item is, that also means you’ll need to be in relatively close range find your missing pet—or you’ll need to rely on the community find option Tile provides. These 9 tips will help you make sure you never misplace anything again.
Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.
The smartest smart collar
Dr. Coates weighs in that pet owners have told her they like the Fi Smart Dog Collar because it’s waterproof and can provide information about a pet’s activity level in addition to notifying owners when pets leave their safe zones and providing real-time location information. The FI Smart Dog Collar is advertised as having an exceptionally long battery life, which makes this option more convenient and reduces the risk of an untimely loss of charge. Don’t miss these things you do that your dog secretly hates.
The health and location tracker
One of the options Askeland likes is the Whistle Go, which provides both health insights and proactive alerts when your pet leaves home. Askeland explained the pros of this option are that it’s:
- Easy to clip on a collar
- Alerts if your pet leaves the safe area
- Functions as an activity monitor
- Has several models available
But as far as cons, she did acknowledge that it is “only available with AT&T service, requires a subscription, and there are noted reviews on a time lag for escape alerts.”