This is fur-real

Who knew that pet pampering could go this far.

Who said life enhancing technology was reserved for just humans? These days many of our furry friends may love innovation too.

Instead of treating yourself this season, perhaps it would be worthwhile to fetch a tech toy for your beloved household pet.

On the heels of growing pet ownership – 61% of Canadians now own a pet – and an steady increase in the retail sales of pet food and accessories here, (now 4.2 billion and expected to be 5.3 billion by 2025), the “pet tech” industry is booming. With a remarkable collection of gizmo’s that can help you care for, protect or entertain your favourite feline, canine, bird, or fish the best is yet to come I’m sure.  Beyond good old automatic water fountains and feeders, there are now newbies like “invisible fence” collars, self-cleaning kitty litter boxes and light-up leashes for you and your “best bud”. Here are a few paw-fect picks to add to your shopping list.

Treats, on demand
Keep an eye on your pet while away from home, and even dispense his or her treats on-demand. Simply connect the Petzi Treat Cam ($75) to your Wi-Fi network and install the app on your smartphone or tablet. Place Petzi’s high-definition camera against a wall and go about your daily away from home routine. Now, wherever life takes you just launch the app to see what’s up with fido or whiskers. Once your dog or cat learns to hears the app’s familiar chime, you can expect them to run to the camera to get their treat from the patented launcher that’s underneath the camera. You can also talk to your pet or snap a pic from your phone (and upload it to social media). 

Fun with lasers
From PetSafe, the same folks that brought us the Automatic Ball Launcher that was designed to keep a dog entertained for hours, comes a new play toy– but this time it’s for cats.

Stimulating a feline’s natural instincts to chase, stalk and pounce, the Bolt Laser Cat Toy ($39) is perhaps a fun way to keep your cat active and engaged. Bolt uses what’s referred to as a random laser display. Placed on a flat surface or hung from, say, a doorknob, the device has two options: one that turns the laser on for 15 minutes and another that activates it for 15-minute intervals every two hours (say, if you’re leaving for the day). The idea, I suppose, is that even the laziest of cats will be excited by the moving light and hop off the couch to try and catch it.

The company promises that this is a Certified Class 1 laser, which is safe for your cat. Three AAA batteries are required, but not included.

Walk this way
Be seen while walking your dog in the dark—that’s the premise behind the NiteDog Rechargeable LED Leash ($29) from Nite Ize.

Available in blue or lime green, these 5-foot leashes have two embedded ultra-bright LEDs, which send light through an integrated optical fiber, for up to 6.5 hours between charges. When it’s time to juice up the leash, simply insert a micro USB cable (not included) and plug the leash into a computer, AC wall socket or power strip.

This eye-catching and water-resistant dog leash has a soft grip, durable cable, and can be used in either constant glow or flash mode.

Avoid a cat-astrophe
Just like a Roomba save you time by vaccuming your floors , now there’s the an automatic litter box that doesn’t require you to scoop, clean or refill it for weeks at a time. Curious? I was.

Seems that this second-generation ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box ($269) uses disposable trays pre-filled with crystal litter. Said to quickly absorb urine and dehydrate solid waste to provide fewer odours than regular clumping litter, this may just be a solution that “saves the day.” An automatic rake even sweeps solid waste into the waste trap 20 minutes after your cat uses the litter box, so you never have to see or touch it. If your cat re-enters the box before the cleaning cycle starts, detection sensors automatically reset the rake timer.

Every few weeks you would remove the litter tray, cover with the lid, and dispose of it in the trash. A health counter also keeps track of how many times your favourite feline uses the box.

Another—and far more high-tech—take on kitty litter is Litter Robot 4 ($949).

After your cat does its business and exits, an advanced circular and enclosed sifting system automatically separates the waste from the clean litter and deposits the clumps into a fully enclosed, odor-controlling drawer. Dome-shaped and WiFi-enabled, the Litter-Robot is designed for cats five pounds and up.

A companion app, AutoPets Connect, can send notifications when the waste drawer is full or the unit needs troubleshooting, and it tracks usage history to provide insights into your cat’s health.

How’s your doggie doing?
Monitor sleep patterns, day to day activity and skin conditions with the lightweight, waterproof, FitBark 2. A new way to explain changes in your dog’s behaviour and make better decisions with your vet about nutrition, mobility, and other health issues. Simply put, this wearable turns your dog’s activities into them into meaningful and actionable health insights.

Dog-Friendly City Guide App  
Why leave your dog at home when you can have even more fun together? GoDoggo is a growing city guide app that helps you and your dog experience more of life. Find dog-friendly restaurants, coffee shops, and more with this easy-to-use app. Plus, the GoDoggo Club Member benefits program lets you earn gift cards from your favorite businesses.

Goodbye boredom
Using a simple free app, you can keep your pet stimulated and entertained—even when you’re away! This interactive robot, called Dogness Smart iPet Robot, is controlled via your mobile device and features a 360-degree control and view that can move around your home. With the HD tilting camera, it can record videos and take photos, and it even has a built-in laser and treats dispenser.

To serve and protect
The Halo 2+ Wireless Dog Fence and GPS Dog Collar ($699 USD, plus subscription plan) is a high-tech collar designed to protect your precious pooch. Endorsed by Cesar “The Dog Whisperer” Millan, this duo lets you create virtual fences wherever you may be—all you do is walk the perimeter with your collar or by using the app. Then, if your dog approaches the boundary, customizable notifications (such as a tone or slight vibration) instruct the dog to turn around. 

Plus, If your dog breaches the fence, you’re immediately notified on the Halo app and can track your pet’s whereabouts via its GPS chip in the collar.

Recommended for dogs over 20 pounds (and with neck sizes 11 inches and bigger), you can create up to 20 virtual fences.An accompanying Halo plan (starting at about $4.50 USD/month) is required to enable data storage for virtual fences, GPS location services, activity tracking, and more. Training video tutorials by Cesar are part of the package.

A way less expensive (but more limited) way to track your pet is to place an Apple AirTag on your pet’s collar ($39 for one or $129 for four). Of course, it won’t help stop fido from running away or getting into danger in traffic but it will help you find him.

So long as you rock an iPhone and have the “Find My” set up, AirTags can help you find your lost things—such as your car keys, backpack, or purse. Some people are even affixing it to your beloved pet’s collar (though Apple says it was not designed for pets or children for that matter).

Now here’s where AirTags really get interesting: If your AirTag is out of Bluetooth range, the Find My network may help track it down. By leveraging roughly a billion Apple devices around the globe, it can detect Bluetooth signals from an AirTag and relay the location back to you. Plus, you can place AirTag into Lost Mode in the Find My app, and be notified when it has been located.

Tweet about this
Bird lovers need not feel as if they’re being left out of the high-tech fun. Available now for preorder, Bird Buddy: A Smart Bird Feeder (from $199) is an ideal outdoor gadget for bird aficionados. Essentially, Bird Buddy is a weatherproof bird feeder with an integrated camera to take up-close photos of airborne visitors, plus it features artificial intelligence (A.I.) that can recognize bird species based both on image and sound. A companion app keeps a real-time log for you, and automatically organizes species for you into collections.

The battery-powered device should last up to 30 days, says the company, at which time you’ll pull out a detachable module and bring into the home to charge up with a USB-C cable (included). A solar model is also for sale for $70 more.

Built like a tank
Fin-ally, fish lovers can jump into the tech craze too with the Smart Tank from Koller Products ($115 USD). Smart is a 7-gallon aquarium that synchronizes with a companion app on your smartphone or tablet to let you track your aquarium’s water temperature and get push notifications if the water gets too warm or too cool.

The tank is also equipped with customizable LED lighting that; with the app you change colours on the fly and set schedules to turn the illumination on and off. 

 

For the past 25 years, Marc Saltzman has been a recognized expert in consumer electronics, business tech, and automotive trends. Marc is a keynote speaker across North America and hosts the weekly Tech It Out podcast. Follow him on Twitter @ marc_saltzman.

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