Pet Tech Takes Off
Innovative gadgets to improve a pet’s life
Pet tech has emerged as its own super-growth industry, combining demand for better health and comfort for our furry family members with the latest technology tools and applications.
A recent survey by the American Pet Product Association (APPA) revealed 70% of households own a pet. Broken down, that translates to 69 million U.S. households that own a dog and 45.3 million households that own a cat. If you’re one of them, there is likely nothing you wouldn’t do for your pet. This might include a high-tech collar, wearables for tracking location or fitness, cameras and two-way communication, or AI driven pet toys.
Since the wearables market for humans continues double digit growth, it’s no wonder pet product makers have latched on to the technology. Wearable doggy devices include bluetooth-enabled position tracking collars to see a pet’s location. Since the American Humane Association reports over 10 million pets—cats and dogs—are lost or stolen each year, there is a big incentive to monitor pet movements.
Smart collars can also track things like calories burned and the number of miles walked a day. Did your pet meet their exercise goal? Go ahead and dispense another Scooby snack from the interactive treat launcher! Smart collars can also monitor health information over time, like decreased activity or increased scratching.
Wearables can offer important pet reminders for their humans too. Smart collars can be set with reminders to notify owners of important events, such as vet appointments, medicines, and grooming. Improving a pet’s quality of life while adding convenience for owners is driving demand for high-end pet collars.
Other popular wearable apps include a collar camera to see and interact with pets while tracking activities, or collection of biometrics to track pup emotions.
If pet wearables follow the same evolution as human fitness trackers, these devices could provide even more insight into canine health in the future, to help our fur friends live longer. Makers are already finding robust applications in medical diagnosis and treatment for pet obesity- a rising issue for dogs and cats. PetMD says 17.6% of U.S. dogs are obese and 35.1% are overweight.
Before jumping into a pet-specific wearable, try out an Apple AirTag or a Tile tag to track your pet. These small Bluetooth tags can easily be attached to a dog or cat collar. You can track all pet movement through your cell phone.
Fun gadgets for pets
Tracking movements and health are not the only areas of pet tech growth. There is also fun! Animals need stimulation and enjoyable activities to thrive. But if you tire of throwing a ball for your dog again and again, an automatic ball launcher might be the ticket. Or set up a 360 degree laser pointer with random rotating patterns, and it will occupy your cat for hours.
Landing in both the health and fun categories is a variety of pet entertainment robots hitting the market. The Varram helps pets stay active by zooming around the house, and periodically dispensing treats to keep the animal engaged. Interactive toys are intended to stave off stress, loneliness, separation anxiety, and sadness a pet feels when home alone. Active toys can also decrease the risk of obesity and arthritis.
If you buy your pet a high-tech toy, don’t miss out on direct human to pet play time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. Pets also help us manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship.
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Around the house
Auto Feeders have been around for a while, but the latest SmartFeeder steps up the game. Enter some details on your pet and type of food, then schedule meal times. The app will have the feeder automatically distribute the correct portion of food based on your pet’s age, weight, food type and activity level. You get notifications telling you when your pet was fed and how much. There is an alert to let you know when food is running low. The app can even be set to reorder food online.
Doggie doors seem to be the hot ticket this year. What I like about the SureFlap Pet Door is it opens and closes for your pet, and only your pet, based on their microchip. You can also program the door to lock and unlock at certain times, such as at night or when you are at work. The SureFlap Microchip Pet Door retails for around $85, but you can add on a programmable collar if your dog is not microchipped. There is also a SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder, which dispenses food only to the microchip identified pet. That’s a handy feature in a multi-pet household.
Pet tech is big business
Pet tech gadgets and wearables are expected to grow from $703 million in 2019 to $1.7 billion by 2024 according to data from research firm MarketsandMarkets.
Most households in the United States have at least one pet, driving a high demand for pet products. It seems technology for dogs and cats is expanding daily, not only making life safer for pets but also allowing us humans to better monitor their health. I can’t wait for the day when AI figures out a voice translator so my dog can communicate back to me. Though I know her first words will probably be “you gonna eat that?”