This month we focus upon technology to help monitor, locate and identify your pet—keeping them safe.

According to the ASPCA, one out of seven owners lost a dog or cat in the past five years. Of the 93% of lost pets that were found, 6% were found at shelters while 15% were found via identification tags or microchips and 49% were found by searching the neighborhood.

Pets and Family Reunited

Our objective is to accelerate the location and identification process while highlighting the value of pet monitoring.

1. Pet Monitoring
While you’re at work or taking care of errands, it can sometimes be helpful and reassuring to “check in” on the wellbeing of your pets—particularly for new puppies or kittens, after an injury or to ensure they are not engaged in any “mischief.”

Today, web cameras enable you to view your pet in real-time from the comfort of your desk or smartphone. In fact, many web cameras offer pan-and-tilt capabilities allowing you to track your pet’s movement through one or several rooms—or even outdoors. Still others enable you to capture images and video and listen to and/or speak to your pet.

Pet Monitor

In addition to stand-alone, IP-based solutions, many home security systems include indoor/outdoor video monitor capabilities as a component of their offerings.

2. Pet Tracking
There is nothing more concerning than a lost or pet wondering from home. To help avoid that awful feeling, you might consider a pet tracking system to help locate and reunite everyone as soon as possible.

While there has been an explosion in the number of brands and companies offering pet trackers, there are generally three distinct technologies available to locate your pet:

Comparison of Technologies

Bluetooth
This is the technology that is most frequently used to pair earpieces to cellphones and cellphones to cars. Pet tracking can be accomplished by attaching a small device, generally the size of a quarter, to your pet’s collar. Then you use a Bluetooth-enabled laptop, tablet or smartphone to locate your pet. While there is no monthly service fee to use Bluetooth, the distance to locate pets and objects is limited—generally less than 50 feet. This may be ideal for indoor cats or pets with small yards. However, with “crowd source” reporting, the effective range can be expanded once you report your pet “missing.” Example Bluetooth-based products include those by Tile and TrackR.

Radio Frequency
Radio tracking uses technology similar to most handheld pet trainers. A device approximately the size of a watch is affixed to your pet’s collar, and the owner uses a handheld monitor/display to locate the pet. There are no monthly fees associated with radio tracking but the ability to locate your pet is generally limited to 1500 feet—or one-quarter of a mile (some versions cover multiple miles). If your cat or dog is a runner, you may need to use a cellular-based product. Example radio-based products include those by Garmin, Marco Polo, and Loc8tor Pet.

Cellular/GSM/GPS
Cellular-based trackers provide the best ability to locate your pet from afar. Using a device also the size of a watch affixed to your pet’s collar, their location can be tracked by the same towers used by cellphones. Then, your pet’s location can be viewed in near real-time using a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Unfortunately this greater tracking distance is generally accompanied with a monthly fee to cover cellular communication expenses. Be sure your area has strong signal coverage of the product’s cellular provider (Verizon/AT&T/Sprint/etc.) before purchasing. Popular brands include Whistle, Paw Tracker, Nuzzle and many others.

Comparison of Tracking Technologies
Attribute
Bluetooth
Radio Tracking
Cellular
Range
~50 feet
One-Quarter Mile
(Some up to 2 Miles)
Unlimited
Size of Collar Device
Quarter
Watch
Watch
Monitor / Display
Tablet or Smartphone
Handheld Monitor
PC, Tablet or Smartphone
Purchase Price
Low-Medium
Medium-High
Medium-High
Monthly Fee
None
None
Yes

 
Important Pet Tracking Features
To help determine the best technology and product for your needs, you may want to consider these important and popular pet tracking features.

    • Signal Safe: All commercially available trackers are pet safe. But some recommend the tracking unit be removed daily—mostly for recharging.
    • Battery Life: Most units are rechargeable, but some need to be recharged less frequently. There is a relationship between battery longevity and weight—so be sure to select the right product for the size of your pet.
    • Real-Time Location and Accuracy: When your pet is missing, being able to know their exact location (on a map) at any time is essential. Some products report in real-time while others update periodically (every few minutes). Be sure to select a product that meets your expectations.
    • Pet Boundaries: Many products enable you to define a “virtual yard” within which your pet can safely play. However, once they exit you’ll begin receiving alerts enabling you to search for your pet.
    • Water Resistant/Proof: If your pet is a swimmer, be sure to select products that are waterproof rather than water resistant.

3. Activity Monitoring
If Kitty or Fido is overweight, you can now use the equivalent of “Fitbit” for pets. With these devices containing an internal accelerometer, you can monitor your pet’s activity level—by time of day, intensity and other key metrics. Providers such as FitBark, MyPoof and PitPatPet can help you understand your pet’s behaviors, too.

4. Pet Identification

If your pet is found by Animal Control or the local police, it’s helpful to have your pet microchipped—particularly if your pet might escape without their collar. Microchipping is an important service that Kirkwood provides and should be performed by a trusted veterinarian. By wanding your pet, critical information including owner’s name and contact information can be obtained—speeding your reunification. Regardless of the selected provider, ensure that your name, address and contact information is updated whenever you move or change your cellphone number or email address.

Personalized Pet Collar

As a complement to microchipping, you should always ensure your pet’s collar contains a contact tag with your information, their rabies information and any other information required by law. As with our pet referral program, we also recommend collars that have your pet’s name and your telephone number woven into the collar using large, readable fonts. This will enable even those who might be afraid of pets to easily read their name, calm them down and call you.

Note: We do not recommend or endorse any companies as we only reference names as example products in the respective category.

 

Contact Us
As always, please contact us if you have any questions regarding your pet’s health. We’re always here to help.