Wi-Fi/GPS tracking technology is a godsend for pet owners who want to keep tabs on their best buddies, as it has enabled a new generation of pretty sophisticated GPS pet trackers. They all work in the same way; each tracker contains a GPS chip and Wi-Fi receiver. Using Wi-Fi, you set up a pet perimeter; each brand has a different term for it: Safe Zone, Virtual Fence, Safe Place. So long as your pet stays within those boundaries, the collar will use Wi Fi to send reports about your pet’s activities to your smartphone (it can also email you, if you prefer). If your pet crosses that boundary, the collar switches over to GPS and it sends you alerts.
You can certainly use these GPS pet trackers just for the purpose of locating your best friend, but most all of them can provide you with detailed information on your pet’s activities, including how strenuous the activity is, so you can know whether your pooch is the world’s biggest couch potato or is climbing the walls while you’re away. Certain brands are designed so you can also use them for training, fitted to remotely trigger a sound signal.
There are several brands where the tracker is part of the collar, and others where the tracker can be fitted onto the dog or cat’s own collar. All of these trackers are battery operated and the battery generally takes about 2 hours to charge; a charger is included with the tracker.
When purchasing a GPS pet tracker, there are two financial components–the price of the tracker itself and the cost of a monthly cell plan for the device; every brand we have seen to date uses AT&T. Costs on the trackers can vary greatly and there is variation on the monthly plans as well; every brand will charge you more if you pay month to month, versus committing to one or two years up front.
Here are the brands we like best.
This GPS pet tracker will attach to any collar or harness up to 1 inch wide; it is not recommended for animals 8 pounds and under. The tracker is waterproof and shockproof, and the battery charge can last up to 7 days. Whistle 3 offers a 90-day money-back guarantee; if you are unhappy in any way, they will fully refund your money. The Whistle 3 pet tracker is $79.95, and the monthly subscription ranges from $6.95 to $9.95.
The tracker for the Link AKC is built into the collar itself, which comes in five sizes, from XS to XL; it is not recommended for pets under 10 pounds. In addition to monitoring your pet’s movements and their intensity, the Link AKC also tracks the ambient temperature, so you can be sure your best friend isn’t being exposed to temps that are too hot or too cold. The collar can also be used as a training tool, with the ability to remotely signal your pet. It’s also fitted with an LED light which will enable you to find your pet at night. The collar is waterproof and shockproof, and comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee. The Link AKC GPS pet tracker is $149; the monthly service plan ranges from $6.95 to $9.95 and includes 24/7 access to a Pet Poison Hotline, free collar upgrade for a growing puppy, and a 3-year limited warranty.
This GPS pet tracker for dogs and cats is fully waterproof and it can be fitted onto your pet’s own collar or one of two adjustable strap collars it comes with. It also comes with two batteries, so you can always have one charged and ready. The Pod 3 is $129, and the monthly subscription usually ranges from $4.95 to $8.95 but right now they are offering a free lifetime subscription.
This GPS pet tracker for dogs and cats is meant to be clipped onto your pet’s collar. It is waterproof and fitted with an LED light, perfect for locating your best buddy at night. Tractive pet tracker is $69.99 and the monthly subscription ranges from $5 to $6.99.
This is the only GPS pet tracker we have been able to find specifically designed for cats, though it can also be used for small dogs. The tracker is built into the collar, with small, medium, and large sizes. It comes with a 12-month warranty, is described as being “splashproof” (we’d rather it be waterproof, but then again we personally don’t know of any felines who like plunging into streams and ponds…), and comes with two batteries. The Pawtrack is $150 and the monthly subscription ranges from $4.50 to $5.99.