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Pet Tech: Cool Gadgets for Animal Lovers

From pet selfies to virtual dog-sitters, tech is changing how people take care of their furry best friends.

In an era of luxury dog hotels, pet-friendly restaurants and an endless array of hilarious cat gifs, it’s clear that people are more pet-obsessed than ever before. Now, new pet tech is helping people take better care of their four-legged family members.

“We’re seeing an emergence of ‘smart’ products like never before that incorporate the latest technology to improve quality of life for both pets and their human companions,” said Bob Vetere, the CEO and president of the American Pet Products Association.

“High-tech pet products are changing the way we manage our pets’ health, and they’re also helping enhance our relationship with our pets,” he said.

From digital fetch machines to smart feeders, this tech is bringing owners and pets even closer.

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Virtual Babysitters

For owners who can’t bear to be parted from their pet — or just want to know if he’s getting into the garbage — devices like the interactive Petcube camera ($149) can help. The IOS- and Android-compatible aluminum cube connects through WiFi and has a built-in audio and speaker, allowing owners to watch and communicate with their pets via a smartphone.

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A 138-degree wide-angle camera streams HD video so owners can see exactly what Baxter is up to all day. Petcube’s sharing options also allow users to check out what kind of mischief other people’s pets are getting into, as long as their Petcubes are set to “public.”

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Just one warning for those who find themselves watching every animal video on Facebook: “The Petcube app is like catnip for humans,” said Lauren Hitchings in her review following the Consumer Technology Association’s 2016 CES show. “You won’t be able to get enough.”

Specifically for cat-lovers, Kittyo ($249) lets owners watch, speak to and play with a cat remotely. Users can dispense treats via a kitty carousel and even operate a laser pointer for entertainment. Another fun feature: With the Kittyo owners can record and share cat videos, using the built-in video camera and audio speaker.

PetBot ($199 in pre-release) is another option. The WiFi-enabled device not only lets users watch a pet through a live-stream video, but with its “pet selfie” feature, PetBot will recognize a pet’s face and send photos and videos to owners throughout the day.

Playtime

For dog parents who have been skimping on daily walks, new devices might help transform Fido into a truly good boy.

“Exercise is the cornerstone to any successful dog-training program,” said Zak George, the most-subscribed dog trainer on YouTube and co-author of Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love.

“Not only is it important for your pet’s health and fitness, but it also can help prevent 90 percent of unwanted behaviors such as jumping up, digging, chewing and barking.”

One way to get a pup moving is to use the GoDogGo Fetch Machine ($139-$149 depending on size), which allows users to play fetch with a dog by using a remote control or setting the machine up for independent play. Users can control the ball launcher’s speed of play and the distance the balls are launched.

For those who like to travel with their dog (or have moved to a new area), the Dog Land app for the iPhone, iPad and iTouch includes details on nearby dog parks, veterinarians, dog shelters and pet supply stores, as well as other tips. Users can vote whether a particular place is dog-friendly and can also connect with other dog lovers throughout the world by “marking their territory” with a shared photo that reveals an owner and pet’s location.

Safety First

Pets are important members of the family, and new GPS tracking devices are helping to keep them safe. The Kyon Pet Tracker ($249, available for pre-order in three different sizes) alerts owners if a pet leaves a designated 300-foot “safe zone,” tracks a pet’s location and can also display information on the collar such as “I am lost.”

Another option is the newest model of GPS tracking wearable Trackimo ($190).

The device “lets you track your pet anywhere in the world with cellular coverage; make geo-fences that will notify you when your pet crosses them; show a history of where your dog has been and allow you to track an unlimited number of pets by multiple users on a single account,” says tech expert Julian Chokkattu in a recent review.

Trackimo also has a companion app (for iOS and Android) that includes a map view that reveals the dog’s exact location.

Time to Eat

Some pets graze periodically when hunger strikes. Others down their dinner the second it hits the bowl. New devices help owners feed a pet remotely, which can be critical to a dog’s health.

“Bowls that either help with slow feeding or help with portion control — such as bowls with scales — can be a valuable tool for pet parents to manage their pets’ daily food intake and assist in weight control,” says Vetere.

pet tech_Petnet SmartFeeder

The Petnet Smart Feeder ($149) uses sensors, learning software, a comprehensive pet food database, and a smartphone to learn and understand a pet’s nutritional needs. It then uses this information to match a pet to the ideal portion and ingredients specific to a pet’s age, weight, level of activity and breed. The companion app allows owners to control feedings remotely and even have dog food delivered to their homes.

Another option is the PetKit Smart Bowl ($36-$40). This antibacterial bowl calculates the exact quantity of food that a pet eats.

The app (available on iTunes and Google Play) helps determine the exact weight of the food a pet should be consuming based on his current weight, breed and food type. Then, the bowl itself will display a digital reading to let owners know how much has been poured (by weight or volume).

With all the helpful new devices available for furry friends, one thing is for certain: High-tech isn’t just for humans.

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