Hi-tech Pets: Pet Ownership in the Digital Age

In this high-tech age of smart phones and smart homes equipped with a wide range of electronic gadgets that keep the whole family entertained for hours on end, it was only a matter of time before the trend extended to include our beloved pets.

Smart technology allows us to monitor and protect our homes, our vehicles, our kids, and now our pets too. Smart technology is not only keeping humans connected, but it is also helping pet owners connect with Felix or Fido when they can’t do so in person. Pet tech gadgets cover all the bases — from pet feeding, ablutions, play, training, monitoring and interaction, there is a techno gizmo designed to take care of that. Here are a few of my top picks.

Time to Play Ball
Pet owners who have to leave their pet alone during the day while they are at work no longer have to feel guilty. Well, not if their fur-kid has a PlayDate or a Pebby smart ball to alleviate boredom. These little technological wonders are fitted with a camera, together with some sensors, which are encased in an extremely durable, chew-proof industrial-grade polycarbonate housing that is also waterproof. You can download an app onto any of your electronic devices which will then let you remotely control the ball — even when you are nowhere near home — as well as see and talk to your pet via the ball. If your work schedule is anything like mine and you are simply too busy to move the ball around for your pet, you can buy an optional smart collar — which also acts as an activity tracker — that will automatically move the ball around, enticing your pet to play with it. Pure genius!

I Just Called to Say I Love You…
While the smart balls mentioned above do let you monitor and chat with your pet to a certain extent, if you are looking for a more dedicated form of pet daycare then the PetChatz may be just the solution. It is packed with features such as a HD camera, LCD display, treat release, and motion detector, and it takes pet communication to a whole new level by even letting your pet call you! A must-have for pets (and owners) that suffer from separation anxiety.

Keeping Track of a Wandering Rose
Having the ability to communicate and monitor your pet while you are away from home is great, but having a means to monitor and track your pet should it decide to go walkabout can help you recover a lost pet, and is particularly useful for owners of pets that have a tendency to wander. A pet GPS tracking chip, such as supplied by Findster (no monthly charges), GoFindR and Tractive, is inserted into your pets collar and is linked to an app downloaded onto your smartphone, which lets you track your pet’s location, movements, temperature, and even how much it is barking. Some pet GPS apps also alert you when your dog is barking or if it leaves a designated area. Both Findster and Tractive also cater for cats, which is a win for cat owners whose cats roam freely about the neighbourhood. Very often our feline friends are so busy exploring they don’t rush home, leaving owners frantically putting up LOST posters. A GPS tracker will alert you as soon as your kitty transgresses a pre-determined boundary (or Geo Fence) and help you determine its exact location, saving you sleepless nights and printing costs.

Gadgets That Take Care of Business
Of course there are pet tech gadgets, such as automatic feeders and waterers that just make life simpler for pet owners. But hands down the most useful of these is the Litter Robot automatic self-cleaning cat litter box. The Litter Robot is a digital cat litter box that takes care of your kitty’s business in style, sifting through the cat litter every time your cat uses it, depositing your cat’s waste into a waste collection drawer, keeping the litter box fresh while saving you this chore.

While I am not affiliated with any of these products or necessarily endorsing them, I am really fascinated by how technology is permeating every aspect of our lives, even our relationships with our dogs and cats. As a vet I’m used to removing plastic chew toys that become lodged in pets’ gastrointestinal tracts, but in the not so distant future this will likely include tech products too. But, looking on the bright side, these will show up better on an x-ray!


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