It’s becoming easier to travel with pets, thanks to a greater awareness of airline policies and animal relocation services, as well as a greater amount of pet-friendly holiday accommodation. Still, there are times you have to leave your four-legged friend at home. In fact, for many office workers, that’s a daily reality. We leave our pets home alone for long stretches.
Fortunately, today’s technological advances are providing a solution for anxious pet parents. Just as we can’t live without our smart devices, our pets can take advantage of them too. From home cameras to GPS gadgets, Hazel Imrie, PETport Owner and Founder, shares devices – all available in South Africa – that offer pet owners peace of mind that their furbaby is safe and happy.
- GPS trackers
While dogs may escape from your property on occasion, cats roam on the regular. Their owners are likely familiar with the worrying situation of their feline friend not arriving home for dinner, or even vanishing for days at a time. GPS trackers, typically attached to the cat’s collar, keep you in the know about your pet’s movements. It may take some time to get your cat accustomed to the device, which is weightier than a name tag, but embracing the technology comes with significant peace of mind. Paired with an app on your smartphone, you can easily find them if they’re lost, even triggering an alarm.
- Automatic feeders
Going to be late for dinner? Worried your house sitter is overfeeding your animal? Automatic pet feeders ensure your dog or cat’s daily routine isn’t disrupted, and they receive their optimal serving of dry pellets. Simply set the time and portion size, and the feeder will do the rest. Although automatic feeders have been available for a while, newer versions have advanced functionality like a built-in microphone and speaker so you can record a personal message, effectively calling your animal for meals. Some automatic feeders even have built-in cameras so that you can monitor the mealtimes, along with sensors which alert you when food is running low.
- Pet cameras
Just as you might have a monitoring device to keep an eye on your kids during school holidays, you can install a pet cam for your fluffier family members. All you need is an Internet connection, wi-fi and power source. Again, advances in smart home technology mean you have an incredible amount of remote control via phone or tablet app. While models of pet camera vary, functionality can include day-night view, camera movement control, the ability to record and share clips, treat dispensed at the push of a button, and genuine two-way audio-visual communication with your pet. Even if you’re on the other side of the planet, you can check in on your fur child and see his ears perk up, on hearing your voice.
- Smart toys
An animal left alone at home may be prone to laziness, leading to weight gain and related health issues. Automatic playtime accessories such as ball launchers, treat dispensers and self-rolling toys help to keep your pet stimulated and active when you’re not around to take them to the park. Settings prevent your animal from over-exhausting itself and, in some cases, you can assume remote control, participating in the experience from afar. While these smart pet devices are still uncommon in South Africa, they pair well with pet trackers that act much like our smartwatches, allowing us to monitor our pet’s health and even if they’ve been barking.
- Microchip pet doors
Home security is, of course, a concern in South Africa, but you don’t want it to impact on your pet’s quality of life. Smart pet doors are designed to keep out unwanted intruders – as well as those of the four-legged kind – while giving your cat and dog continued freedom of movement between indoors and outdoors. These intelligent products are programmed to read your pet’s identification chip or supplied collar tag, and only open for them. Microchip pet doors also liberate pet owners from those exhausting “let me out” wakeups at 3am.
While all these smart pet devices are designed for home use, some have benefits when travelling with your pet too. GPS trackers, for example, will help in the event of an escape attempt, while automatic feeders can keep your pet’s routine steady on the road. Just remember that these devices are not allowed in your pet’s crate when flying due to safety and discomfort concerns.