Leaving pets alone at home can be stressful – even if they’ve been left enough water and food to last, it can still be cause for concern.
Getting some peace of mind about how your pets are faring when you’re not at home often required calling a friend, or family member, and requesting they check on your pets. This would entail a whole host of responsibilities – leaving a key, finding someone who was available, and then relying on their report of your pet.
With the advent of pet cams, though, this proves a problem of the past. Provided you have WiFi in your home, there are a few solid options for pet cams that allow you to keep an eye on your pet with the help of your smartphone. Some even dispense food, treats, and medication. Even a handful of cameras that aren’t made just for pets are up to the task.
During our testing, however, we discovered some dogs learn pretty quickly that you aren’t in the room when using the two-way radio feature available on some of these units. In at least one case, we found that it may actually trigger separation anxiety rather than quell it, as the dog may start looking for you when they can’t figure out where your voice is coming from. If you have this experience, you may want to consider a treat-dispensing model to offset this nervousness. All of these options are still excellent for monitoring purposes, and for other animals, this is unlikely to come up at all.
Certainly the sleekest of the made-for-pets cameras, the Petcube began its life on Kickstarter before becoming an Amazon Launchpad product. Aside from the high-end look, this unit is designed with interactivity in mind. Using a full 1080p HD camera with a wide angle lens, you can easily capture photos and videos with an iOS or Android device. It also features two-way audio, so you can talk to and listen to your pet.
The icing for this one is the laser toy, though. By dragging your finger across the image, you can direct a laser that will engage your pet even across many miles. Reviews note that the laser pointer isn”t super accurate to inputs and the camera may present some delay, but on the whole, this is a good option if slick product design is key.
The Play is the second generation Petcube, following up on the previous 720p version. Upgrades in the Play include the full HD camera and night vision, improving the low-light performance that wasn”t ideal on the older model. You also have your choice of colors between Carbon Black, Matte Silver, and Rose Gold.
I received a review unit for use with my three dogs. After I downloaded the Petcube app, it walked me through the rest of the setup. I had to try connecting it to the internet a few times before it finally succeeded. Once setup, my experience with it was quite good. The picture is excellent on my iPhone 6S, though the complaints about lag are accurate. I attribute this more to network speeds than anything else — the delay in audio using the two-way radio is about a second. The laser toy is fun but a bit fussy to use — almost certainly better with cats than my dogs.
Analysts predict the worldwide pet-cam industry will grow at an annual rate of 26 percent from 2017 through 2021 for several reasons, including an overall increase in pet ownership, and the fact that people who have pets say monitoring them to ensure their safety is a primary concern.