Pet location tracking solutions use IoT-enabled collars or attachable devices, much like existing tags, to monitor the location and status of pets both indoors and outdoors. Tracking collars or collar attachments allow pet owners to check in on their animals when in the care of strangers, like dogwalkers; to locate their pets if they go missing; and to measure their pets’ general activity levels throughout the day.
If you’ve ever had a dog, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced a pet owner’s worst fear: losing your beloved furry friend and you’re not alone. Within a five year period, 14 percent of owners lose their dog. Whether it’s through a broken fence, a weak leash, or a particularly irresistible squirrel, many owners take precautions against the loss of a pet no matter how unlikely such an accident may be.
The fear of missing pets is so great that many have turned to the now common practice of microchipping their pet to increase the chances of being reunited, should a pet go missing. Microchips are grain-sized RFID chips that are implanted between a pet’s shoulder blades and store a unique ID number that vets or shelters can check against pet registries to find the owners’ contact information.
And while microchipping is a fairly cost-effective solution, it’s not perfect. Microchips last approximately 25 years, but to check if your pet’s microchip is in good, working order, you have to ask a shelter or vet to scan it. And what if you lose your pet on a camping trip? Well, for a microchip to be useful, someone has to take your pet to a veterinarian or rescue to be scanned. Meaning that there isn’t much you can do while you wait to be reunited. And despite those flaws, the global pet microchip market is expected to grow to 460 million US dollars by 2025.
Unlike microchips, IoT-enabled pet tracking solutions allow owners to take an active role in finding their pet. By connecting to a smartphone or web application, pet trackers can show owners their pet’s real-time location and history, so they don’t have to wait and hope that their pet finds their way back.
There are a couple of kinds of pet tracking solutions. All of these trackers work by either embedding technology directly into the collar of a pet, or by attaching a device to the existing collar. The range at which they work, the battery life, and features all depend on the kind of technology they use. The most common technologies used in IoT-enabled tracking solutions are cellular, Bluetooth, and GPS, but RF trackers are also common – though they come with their own shortcomings.
RF pet trackers have a greater range than many newer solutions and use less battery, but are bulky and require a separate transponder to read the signal emitted by the collar. However, without the additional use of GPS, RF trackers can be somewhat difficult to use – giving a “closer-and-farther” reading, rather than displaying the pet’s actual location.
Cellular trackers are the most common types of IoT-enabled pet trackers. These trackers typically utilize existing cellular or wifi networks to send data back to the owner, where it can be accessed by a smart device or computer. Because these trackers usually have a SIM card built in and must piggyback on cellular networks, they often come with monthly fees to maintain network connection. Cellular trackers aren’t totally accurate, narrowing down a pet’s location to within a block or two, but they can give an owner a good place to start – maybe even within calling distance. They can be a great for tracking a pet’s location in real-time and conveniently keeping a record of where your pet has been, especially for pets that have a tendency to wander.
Bluetooth has the lowest range of the all of the common pet tracking technologies and often works better for keeping an eye on a pet’s activity levels, than for finding a lost pet. For densely populated areas, Bluetooth trackers can utilize other users’ phones to identify pets and send their location.