Holiday time? Five toys and tools that make going away easy for you and your pet


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As we near the end of the year, you’re likely dreaming of getting out of town just like the rest of us. For those with fur babies, the process is, perhaps, not so simple. Who will take care of your precious pooch or pussycat? Will they be happy with a sitter or pine for you too much? How are you to know? 

Luckily, we are living in a digital world, and the 21st century has brought with it some nifty inventions for ensuring your best furry friend gets taken care of while you’re away. Founder and Owner of PETport and self-confessed pet lover, Hazel Imrie has rounded up some of the savviest SA technology for keeping your pet safe and happy while you’re on the move. Now, who wants to go to the beach? 


  • Feeding Fido 


Feeding is a huge concern for animal owners when going away. If you have your beloved on a strict feeding schedule or specific foods, for example, it can be disheartening to come home and find the sitter’s been feeding them incorrectly, too often or unhealthily. Luckily, automatic pet feeders can give out dry pellets in the right quantity and at the right time of day, as set by your preferences. Many even have sensors to tell you when food is running low. 

These have gotten more advanced (and admittedly wackier) in recent years. USA company, Furbo even has a camera linked to your smartphone, which tosses your dog treats at the click of a button. This is not an app to leave open accidentally… 


  • A paw in the door


This one is mostly for the kitties – although all pets can benefit from free access to come and go. Microchip pet doors are all the rage here in SA, with larger ones retailing for about R3 500. Considering how many pets have microchips installed, these smart doors act as cat (or dog) flaps but are opened by your pet’s microchip – meaning that nasty grey cat from 5B can’t get in and eat your baby’s food. 


  • Track time


Every animal owner’s worst nightmare is your pet running away in distress while you’re on holiday and not even knowing about it until it’s too late. That’s why collars fitted with GPS trackers have become indispensable for many an owner. Most pair to an app on your smartphone and send alerts or alarms when your pet may be making a run for it, but others have the additional niftiness of lighting up in the dark, making them visible when they decide to gap it during an evening walk. 


  • Smile for the camera


Once as grainy and unhelpful as convenience store cams, pet cameras have advanced in leaps and bounds during recent years. You can now keep an eye on your animal with cameras that include day-night view, camera movement control and high resolution. For those willing to shell out more, you can even commune with your canine while away too, thanks to genuine two-way audio-visual communication, and you can record and share clips with your pet. This is especially helpful for more sensitive pets who pine without hearing their owner’s voice for a while. 


  • Toy zone 


What many sitters don’t get is that it’s not just about food and water. Your pet needs play time too – especially if they’re younger or one of the more energetic dog breeds, like Collies. And if certain breeds, those that tend to pile on the pounds, are left unattended, like Labradors, it’s even more important. 

Boost playtime fun even when you’re in another province (or country) with automated ball launchers, treat dispensers and self-rolling toys. The higher-end ones here, too, have the ability for you to record yourself saying something like ‘Where’s the ball?’ and ‘Go get it’, probably in your plane seat with a fair amount of strange looks from fellow passengers, but it’s worth it. 

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