In this age of smartphones, fit watches and 4K television, it’s easy to forget that man’s best friend isn’t mechanical at all.
Yes, our furry friends, be they Fido or feline, offer something that even the latest cutting-edge tablet technology can’t—an in-person, interspecies connection; a warming glow not produced by the iridescent light of a computer screen.
But that’s not to say that dogs and devices never meet. In fact, quite the opposite: Man’s passion for his pawed pals has produced a thriving smart pet product industry.
Below, we highlight a few clever products that enable owners to make the most of the relationships with their four-legged friends.
When the Owner’s Away, the Dog Should Play
A tricky, and heart-tugging, aspect of dog ownership is making sure that your canine companion is actively engaged and entertained, and not a whimpering pile of waiting, while you are away at work.
Fortunately, pet-owning programmers have tackled this issue with aplomb.
First up is the Furbo ($242), a treat-tossing, camera-equipped smart speaker.
Operable from anywhere in the world via an accompanying iOS/Android app, the Furbo give you a window into your dog’s days alone with live streaming video—but it doesn’t stop there. Users can speak directly to their pup with the devices speaker capabilities and, better yet, fling Fido snacks from the Furbo’s built-in dog treat dispenser.
For those who can’t spare a moment of their work day to check in on home-bound hound, there’s CleverPet ($299).
Think of it as Sudoku for Snoopy.
Offering a series of puzzles designed by dog-loving neuroscientists, the semi-domed device promises to keep your furry friend’s synapses firing while you’re away with skill-level appropriate challenges. You can keep apprised of your dog’s advancement via CleverPet’s app and add new puzzles to their repertoire as they become available.
Of course, sometimes all a solitary dog needs to be happy is an opportunity to stretch their legs. And for that there is the simple, and undoubtedly satisfying, iFetch Interactive Dog Ball Launcher ($40-$200, depending of size)
With a variety of models suited to different dog sizes, the iFetch offers the active pooch all they’ve ever wanted from the world—an eternal game of fetch.
Automated Animal Maintenance
Even the most ardent animal lover can be worn down by the daily drudgery of dog and cat maintenance.
Modern technology has, however, come to the rescue in recusing owners from a few of the more unglamorous pet care chores that are necessary to keep our furry friends happy and healthy.
Chief among these troublesome tasks is changing the cat litter, but the Litter-Robot III Open Air ($449) offers some automated mitigation.
The spherical system self-cleans after every use and contains odor via carbon filter in the waste drawer, making the product perfect for multiple cat households. As a bonus, using the Litter-Robot will make your cat look like a participant in the Apollo space program—and that is clearly Instagram gold.
While waste management monopolizes our time and assaults our senses, the essential duty of feeding our four-legged fellows can be onerous for the pet owner on-the-go as well.
Fortunately, there is the Feed and Go Pet Feeder ($199).
The first automated pet feeder that can handle dry and wet food, as well as treats and medication, the Feed and Go allows users to schedule feedings or set up one-off meals from smartphone, tablet or computer. Additionally, the Wi-Fi-equipped device features a webcam and an audio recorder so you can leave a message for you pet and have your voice call them to dinner.
Keep Tabs on Your Tabby
For animals who enjoy free reign of expansive estates or neighborhoods, keeping track of movements is important from a safety perspective. It also happens to provide an intriguing window into the secret lives of our pets.
For cats, we recommend Pawtrack ($150; $6/month for tracking service), a tracking collar designed specifically for feline explorers.
The lightweight GPS device operates on 2G and 3G networks and gives up-to-the-minute updates of your cat’s coordinates. Users can view a map-based report of a cat’s movements over a given period of time and receive alerts when the animal enters specific areas, custom-designated by the owner. Furthermore, the collar can be set to emit a beeping noise if the cat, or collar, is missing.
For dog owners, we recommend Tractive’s collar-based line of products.
Tractive GPS ($80 to $140) offers owners real-time GPS tracking of their dog’s every movement, and allows users to build SafeZones—a “virtual fence,” which when crossed will trigger an app alert, notifying the user.
Tractive Motion ($70) is like a FitBit for Fido. A lightweight collar addition that seamlessly syncs data about your dog’s activity to your smartphone, Motion lets you keep track of how dynamic, or lazy, your dog has been, and even establish fitness goals for your pet.
And because your dog is worth it, we further recommend that you opt for the GPS SpecialEdition model ($180) which is adorned w/ crystals from Swarovski.
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