This Is Fur-Real? Here’s the Latest in “Pet Tech”
If you want to be your dog's best friend — or the cat's meow, if you will — you'll want to check out the latest pet tech toys. Photo: Catherine Ledner/Getty Images
Who said tech toys were reserved for just humans? Perhaps your pet will love gadgets as much as you do.
That’s the premise behind a new crop of products designed for dogs and cats and other animals in your life. Some of these high-tech gizmos are for your pet’s protection, or their enjoyment, while others are more for their owner — or perhaps a little of both.
If you want to be your dog’s best friend — or the cat’s meow, if you will — the following are a few items to consider.
Treats, on Demand
Keep an eye on your pet while away from home, and even dispense treats for your furry friend.
After you connect the Petzi Treat Cam ($119) to your Wi-Fi network and install the app on your smartphone or tablet, place this high-definition camera against a wall and go about your daily routine.
Now, wherever life takes you, launch the app, and once your dog or cat hears the familiar chime, they’ll likely run to the camera, so you can talk to them, snap a pic from your phone (and upload it to social media) and dispense a small dog treat or cat snack from the patented treat launcher.
So now you can spy your furry friend all day to see if it’s anything like The Secret Life of Pets.
Walk This Way
Be seen while walking your dog in the dark — that’s the premise behind the NiteDog Rechargeable LED Leash ($35) from Nite Ize.
Available in blue or lime green, these five-foot leashes have two embedded ultra-bright LEDs, which send light through an integrated optical fibre, for up to 6.5 hours between charges. When it’s time to juice up the leash, simply insert a micro-USB cable (not included) and plug the leash into a computer, AC wall socket or power strip.
This eye-catching and water-resistant leash has a soft grip, durable cable and can be used in either constant glow or flash mode.
To Serve and Protect
While not inexpensive, the Halo 2+ Wireless Dog Fence and GPS Dog Collar (US$699, plus subscription plan) is a high-tech collar designed to protect your precious pooch.
Endorsed by Cesar “Dog Whisperer” Millan, Halo 2+ lets you create virtual fences wherever you may be (such as at a park) by walking the perimeter with your collar or by using the app; if your dog approaches the boundary, customizable notifications (such as a tone or slight vibration) instruct the dog to turn around. Training video tutorials by Cesar are part of the package.
If your dog breaches the fence, you’re immediately notified on the Halo app and can track your pet’s whereabouts via its GPS chip in the collar.
Recommended for dogs over 20 pounds (and with neck sizes 11 inches and bigger), you can create up to 20 virtual fences.
An accompanying Halo plan (starting at US$4.49 per month) is required to enable data storage for virtual fences, GPS location services, activity tracking, and more.
Fun With Lasers
From PetSafe, the same folks that once brought us the Automatic Ball Launcher to keep a dog entertained for hours, comes another playful gadget — but this time it’s for cats.
Stimulating its natural instincts to chase, stalk and pounce, the Bolt Laser Cat Toy ($35) could be a fun way to keep your cat active and engaged with a random laser display. Placed on a flat surface or hung from, say, a doorknob, the toy has two play options: one that turns on for 15 minutes and another that turns on for 15-minute intervals every two hours (say, if you’re leaving for the day).
The company says this is a Certified Class 1 laser, which is safe for your cat. Three AAA batteries are required, but not included.
Avoid a Cat-astrophe
Just like a Roomba can vacuum your floors for you, there’s an automatic litter box that doesn’t require scooping, cleaning or refilling for weeks at a time.
The second-generation ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box ($223) uses disposable trays pre-filled with crystal litter, which is said to quickly absorb urine and dehydrate solid waste to provide fewer odours than regular clumping litter. An automatic rake sweeps solid waste into the waste trap 20 minutes after your cat uses the litter box, so you never have to see or touch it. If your cat re-enters the box before the cleaning cycle starts, detection sensors automatically reset the rake timer.
Every few weeks you would remove the litter tray, cover with the lid and dispose of it in the trash. A health counter keeps track of how many times your favorite feline uses the box.
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Bird lovers, you need not feel left out of the fun.
Available now for preorder, Bird Buddy: A Smart Bird Feeder (from $199) is an ideal outdoor gadget for bird aficionados.
Essentially, Bird Buddy is a weatherproof bird feeder with an integrated camera to take up-close photos of airborne visitors, plus it features artificial intelligence (AI) that can recognize bird species based both on image and sound. A companion app keeps a real-time log for you and automatically organizes species for you into collections.
The battery-powered device should last up to 30 days, says the company, at which time you’ll pull out a detachable module and bring it into the home to charge up with a USB-C cable (included). A solar model is also available for $70 more.