It only takes an instant. Your cat slips out of the door while you are bringing in groceries or your dog suddenly becomes an Olympic-level athlete and clears that 5-foot fence. At that moment, you realize, “They’re gone!” The resources and time spent searching for a lost pet can accumulate rapidly and have a crippling emotional impact on the entire family.
Luckily, there are tools at your disposal that can help you if your pet ever runs away. A GPS tracker, for instance, can’t stop your Hairy Houdini from escaping, but it can almost guarantee that you will be able to locate them in seconds.
Depending on which set of statistics you look at, the likelihood of a lost pet returning home can change dramatically. While the ASPCA’s random survey of 1,015 households in 2012 concluded that approximately 15% of dogs and cats eventually made it home after going missing, in April 2019, the American Humane organization determined that “only 15% of dogs and 2% of cats in shelters without ID tags or microchips are reunited with their owners.”
Whichever end of the spectrum you choose to look at, it is clear that not all lost pets make it back home. However, it is essential to realize that permanently losing your pet is preventable. With a GPS pet tracker, you can pinpoint your pet’s location in real-time, making it possible to find your runaways quickly wherever they are.
When shopping for a tracker for pets, you want to consider a few key elements: range, battery life, weatherproof design and subscription costs.
A pet tracker is only as good as its reliable range. The tracker will cease to function once your pet wanders out of range or stumbles upon a dead zone.
As you’ve probably realized from using your smartphone, searching for a signal can quickly deplete a battery. If your pet tracker runs out of power, it will not work. Once your pet escapes, the timer starts ticking down. Look for a model with a long enough battery life to give you time to locate your pet.
If your pet runs away, they will be exposed to the elements. Their pet tracker will also be exposed to the elements. A quality pet tracker must be able to endure all types of weather.
It is possible to purchase a pet tracker without a subscription fee, but often, the range is so limited the product won’t be of much use outside your property. Fortunately, most subscriptions won’t cost over $10 per month. Considering the subscription cost and what the plan offers is a good way to determine the value of a pet tracker.
Cats are much more independent than dogs. Unless they are causing havoc or need something, you might not even know where they are. It is even harder to keep track of an outdoor cat. Since most GPS devices are only about the size of a half-dollar coin, they can easily fit on your cat’s collar, making them an excellent tool for tracking your cat.
If you have an older dog that isn’t very mobile, a GPS tracking collar might not be necessary. However, even a dog that has never tried to make a run for it can have its moments. For instance, catching an intriguing scent can cause a normally well-behaved dog to bolt after another animal. Fireworks or thunder can trigger a fight-or-flight response that makes your dog dash off in a panic. And then there are the dogs that just want to explore — keeping them from running away can be a 24/7 task.
GPS Dog collars are affordable and widely available. For the protection and peace of mind they offer, GPS dog collars are definitely worth it for almost every dog.
A subscription to this top model includes GPS tracking, as well as health and fitness and behavior monitoring. You can track your dog anywhere in the country in 15-second intervals and get an alert if they ever leave a designated location. It has a 20-day battery and a night light.
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This model requires Wi-Fi, Verizon LTE-M coverage, and a subscription. It delivers escape alerts and monitors your dog’s activities and behavior. The lightweight design is suitable for any size dog, and the battery lasts anywhere between 10 and 20 days.
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You can track your cat’s every step in real-time with this quality device. It has a virtual fence mode that lets you know when your cat leaves and returns to your property. The tracker comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
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This is a real-time tracker for your dog. It features a rugged build and is waterproof. The low cost of a subscription is just $4.99 per month, and the unit can also track calories burned and lets you set fitness goals for your dog.
This model offers global tracking. While the cost of the device is lower than other models, the subscription is significantly higher. The battery can last from 10 to 60 days, depending on usage and signal, and the free app lets you set up geofences, so you get an alert whenever your pet leaves a designated area.
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.