How to keep track of your pets

If you've ever lost your dog out on a walk, or wondered where your cat goes at night time, you might have considered a tracking device. There's a whole host of new technology coming to market for our pets, and some of it could offer more than just an insight into our pet's lives. We've tested some of them out for you.
Dog sitting up in a sunny field.

GPS Systems

GPS (Global Positioning System) and mobile LBS (Location Based Service) allow you to track your pet's position. You can then view their activity via a dedicated website or in combination with a mobile app. We reviewed Kippy, Loc8tor, Tractive and Gpaws .

Kippy This tracking device measures 6cm x 3.5cm x 2cm and weighs 50g so it would be more suited to a dog on a harness than a cat. It allows you to track via a phone app or online, and comes with an activated SIM card and data plan. As well as tracking your pet the Geofencing function allows you to set a pre-defined area and an alert to sound when your pet leaves this area. We tested on Noodle, a Cockapoo.

What we liked - Battery life is good, the website claims a 20hr standby time following a 4 hour charge period. The device is also waterproof and shockproof and still worked after two hours submerged in water.

What we didn't like - as with most GPS trackers, the device only really works if both the device and the owner's device are able to maintain a good GPS, LBS and data connection. Without this only the last-known location is available, and even with full signal we found the live tracking painfully slow. The Geofencing was also a little unreliable and it's tricky to modify the parameters once they're set.

Verdict - 3/5 - aesthetically pleasing but would not be a reliable replacement for chipping, tagging, training and vigilance.


This device offers real-time tracking via an online dashboard, with SMS and e Mail notifications. According to the website the device is trackable almost anywhere outdoors and accurate within 5 metres.

What we liked - Setting alerts to notify you on your pet's movement out of a specified area (or non-movement for a period of time) are handy, but be careful not to set too many alert notifications up as it can appear overwhelming. The device had a reliable data connection and a good battery life.

What we didn't like - At 6.8cm x 3.6cm x 2cm the device is not small and more suited to larger dogs, such as Labradors. It's not the prettiest device (it feels quite industrial) and the lack of mobile app/interface is a real problem for tracking your pet on walks.

Verdict - 2/5 A capable tracker with some good features and reliable technology but let down by the lack of a suitable mobile user interface.


This GPS tracker uses mobile data to enable you to track your pet via a Smartphone app or online. It can also be used to monitor walks and exercise. It's also fully waterproof and again survived after a lengthy underwater stint.

What we liked - A similar size to Kippy, the Tractive seems more lightweight and also offers an LED indicator light which can be activated to glow bright white, great for searching for your pet in the dark. You can also remotely activate a buzzer to help locate your pet. The tracking was robust and we only experienced a drop of about 6-10% in battery life over a two hour period. It's easy to clip on and off your pet's collar too.

What we didn't like - The biggest bugbear was data reliance, as with a lot of mobile communications you need a good signal for optimum performance.

Verdict - 3/5 An interesting product more suited to monitoring location on walks than for 24/7 activity monitoring.


This is a relatively cheap (£30) GPS recorder which will record GPS in real-time, allowing you to then upload the data onto a Portal to view your cat or dogs activity. It's a bit like a Map my Run for your pet.

What we liked - It's a reliable gadget that allows you an interesting insight into your pet's movements and could be quite illuminating for cat owners.

What we didn't like - Set up is a little confusing and feedback from the flashing status LED on the device is fairly useless. The user is also required to analyse the raw GPS data files themselves, there's no dashboard here!

Verdict - 3/5 a cheap and useful gadget if you don't mind the less-than-slick user experience.

Activity Monitors

These measure activity and rest throughout your pet's day. We tested Whistle, which is currently only available in the US and Canada. It provides you with a great data visualisation via a Smartphone app and also allows owners to keep a record of diet and medication information.

What we liked - With attractive software and hardware it offers a seamless experience from un-boxing through set-up. The data offered is straightforward - simply activity and rest periods - but getting to know the patterns your pet builds up over time is useful - you can more easily spot when something's not quite right. Data updates automatically and the battery life is brilliant. After a week of usage the device still indicated 7 days of available charge.

What we didn't like - Not a lot really, if anything we were a little underwhelmed by the simplicity of the data but that could be a good thing!

Verdict - 4/5 a desirable piece of pet health kit, we're looking forward to seeing how this one develops in future.


Home security cameras that allow you to keep an eye on your pet when you're out of the house. We tested the Motorola Focus 66 wifi webcam.

What we liked - The design is minimal and discreet and set up is straightforward. You can use wifi to pair the device with the Hubble smartphone app which facilitates the monitoring of the camera. The camera's night vision allows you to keep an eye on your pet even in the dark.

What we didn't like - The picture quality wasn't the greatest and we'd like a better capacity for storing videos. Security is also a little scant (one password) and in the wrong hands it could potentially be used by someone determined to view what's going on inside your home.

Verdict- 3/5 a basic but sufficient gadget with easy to use software. Not a replacement for more serious security cameras though!

Would you find these gadgets useful, or perhaps there's something else you'd love to see invented?  We're not sure yet what the future holds for 'connected' pets but we can't wait to find out!

(First published December 2014)

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