No one likes the thought of a beloved animal friend being at home on their own, but work commitments and busy lives sometimes mean our pets have to be left unsupervised for longer periods than we would like.
Fortunately, as with smart pet collars, modern technology now allows dog and cat owners to keep an eye on their precious pets from wherever they are, with a booming market in affordable video monitors meaning your pooch is never more than a smart phone app away.
Not all robotic pet cameras are created equal, with a range of features, video qualities, and functionality on offer. Today, we’ll pick through a selection of the best, ranging from budget friendly security cams to state of the art robots that can track, reward, and interact with whichever furry friend you’ve had to leave at home.
Pet monitors can perform a range of functions beyond simply keeping an eye on the dog. They can also double as handy security cams, treat givers, and walkie-talkies. Have a think about the features you want included in your particular model so that you know what to look out for.
This tends to be the feature that marks out robotic pet monitors from their general purpose, security cam cousins.
Most leading products on the market give you the option to feed your pet a treat at the click of a button, or to release tasty nibbles at a pre-programmed time. Some models even allow you to choose the size, type, and amount of food that’s dispensed, as well as the sound that plays to alert your pet to the fact that there’s a delicious present waiting for them.
Budget monitors are less likely to give you the same range of vision as their premium counterparts. Some of the higher-range robots on the market can provide a full 360 degree sweep of the room, with others also having vertical tilt capability and tracking technology, allowing them to keep sight of your pet whenever they move around.
In addition to the range of camera motion, you might also want to consider the quality of the picture provided by your camera. This is especially true when it comes to ‘Night Vision’ features, something that many pet monitors come advertised with.
Depending on when you plan on monitoring your cat or dog, you may wish to opt for a model that can effectively ‘see’ in the dark, rather than one that struggles to pick out definitive shapes as soon as light levels fall.
Most modern pet monitors come with functional smart phone apps, complete with push notifications.
Sophisticated models will be able to notify you if your animal barks, if there’s unusual movement or noise, and even if your pet moves into a certain area, such as a settee they shouldn’t be lying on. Depending on how ‘in the loop’ you’d like to be kept could determine which product you eventually go for.
Many pet monitors and security cams give you the option of storing video clips for safety or for general monitoring purposes. This can be useful if you want to review what your pup has been up to in your absence, without having to sit watching your phone all day.
Some models come with SD card storage capability, with others offering cloud storage for an additional subscription fee.
Another feature that often distinguishes pet monitors from simple security cams is your ability to speak to as well as listen to your pet. Two way audio allows you to comfort them remotely, congratulate them for good behavior, or admonish them if they’re playing up!
What are the best cameras to monitor your pet at home?
Now we’ve had a think about some of the features you’ll want to bear in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the leading models on the pet monitor market right now.
Furbo is a formidable force in the pet monitor world and arguably the most popular brand out there.
Their 360 model is distinguished by its rotating camera, giving you a complete horizontal sweep of the room. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that the range of motion doesn’t extend to vertical tilt.
As with other premium pet monitors, the Furbo 360 comes with treat feeding capacity to reward your pooch while they’re chilling out at home. You can also record custom audio to accompany treat release, or speak directly to your pet over the two way audio stream. There’s even a mechanism allowing the machine to distinguish between ‘small’ and ‘large’ treats.
Two double sided tape strips on the bottom of the robot keep it firmly anchored in place, helping to prevent any accidental knocks and bumps from tipping it over.
Color night vision means lower light levels aren’t a problem, though some users have noted that severe darkness impedes the quality of the image significantly.
If you want to record sections of video, an additional subscription to Furbo Dog Nanny will be required.
The Furbo 360 currently retails on the company website for $210.
If you’re looking for a monitor that packs many of the same features as the Furbo 360 but without the premium price-tag, Petcube offers a slightly more affordable model.
Rather than the 360 degree sweep you get a more limited field of vision, but still one that can take in 160 degrees, more than enough for most uses if the camera is positioned in the corner of a room.
Like the Furbo, keeping recordings of your live stream will require an additional subscription, to Petcube Care in this instance.
Treat feeding can also be switched up with the Petcube Bites 2 Lite, with three separate treat trays allowing you to mix and match the nibbles on offer. If you’re worried about the model being knocked over, you can also opt for a slightly sturdier, though more expensive model, in the Petcube Bites 2.
Some users have pointed towards a slightly slow response time on the app, meaning you might have to deal with a frustrating wait before seeing a live stream of your pooch. However, the night vision on the Bites 2 Lite is widely praised, with some claiming it even surpasses more pricey competitors in terms of clarity.
There are smart filters on the video and audio feed, meaning that in theory the software should be able to distinguish between animals, humans, other forms of motion, barking, or fire alarms. Customisable settings on the app give you control over how and when you receive notifications.
The Bites 2 Lite is originally priced at $149, though at the time of writing is on-sale on the Petcube website for under $100.
This distinctive looking pet monitor can actually roam around your home on wheels, great for owners who think their dog or cat could do with a bit of stimulation beyond just a built-in treat feeder, a feature this robot also has.
You can control the motion of the machine in real-time or program it to move through set routes in the home.
Some animals will love it, others might find themselves a bit spooked by its motion and artificial eyes! However, if you have a pooch that likes somebody to play with, or a curious house cat in need of something to paw at, this could be a good choice. It even comes with an optional ‘feather’ attachment to keep feline’s enthralled, though some users have complained that this can obscure the camera itself.
The ability to roam around the home does, however, come at a price. Amazon marketplace currently has the Skymee retailing for $170.
For those who don’t necessarily want all the bells and whistles that come with a premium pet monitor, security cameras can double as a handy way to keep an eye on your furry friends when they’re at home.
The Eufy Indoor Cam offers a full 360 degree range of vision, as well as vertical tilt.
You won’t get a treat dispenser with this piece of kit, but it does come with intelligent motion and sound tracking, along with alerts and notifications sent to your phone.
Video recordings can either be stored via the cloud with subscription or via an SD card, which you will need to provide.
At less than $60, this is also a much more affordable option than some of its pet-specific competitors.
A new and improved version of the already widely-praised Wyze Cam v3, the OG is a great budget security camera designed for indoor or outdoor use.
It’s not a specially designed pet monitor, so you don’t get the option of treat dispensing, but 2 way audio is still equipped, and the camera can withstand outdoor weather, great for if you’re looking to monitor your dog in the back yard.
This is a static camera, so you don’t get the same breadth of vision that you might with a moveable lens. However, great night vision and a wide field of focus go a long way to making up for this, particularly if you position it smartly in a corner.
The price is also very attractive which, at less than $40, makes this by far the most affordable piece of kit on our list.