Instead of treating yourself to a new gadget, perhaps next time you’ll pick up a tech treat for your beloved dog or cat?
While you might not find them at your local bog box store, plenty of pet products are available – whether it’s a high-tech companion for your pooch, a cat cam for your favorite feline, or a way to track your furry friend if it wanders off.
If you want to be dog’s best friend – or the cat’s meow, if you will – consider one of these following four items.
Petzi Treat Cam
Keep an eye on your pet while at work, and even dispense treats on demand. That’s the premise behind the aptly-named Petzi Treat Cam ($169; petzi.com). After you connect this HD camera to your Wi-Fi network and install the app on your smartphone or tablet, place the Petzi against a wall and go about your daily routine. Now, wherever life takes you, launch the app, and once your dog or cat hears the familiar chime, they’ll likely run to the camera, so you can talk to your pet, snap a pic (and upload it to social media), and dispense a dog treat or cat snack from the patented treat launcher.
PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher
Designed for indoor and outdoor use, the PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher ($199; petsafe.net) can play fetch with your dog. Whether you’re unable to toss a tennis ball or perhaps nursing a cold, this water-resistant launcher has six angle and nine power settings, so you can tweak the desired height and distance. Train your dog to drop the retrieved tennis ball back on top of the launcher, and it’ll be rewarded with another tossed ball within moments. Powered by AC (cord included) or D-cell batteries (not included), this launcher has multiple safety sensors so it won’t launch a ball if it detects the pet is too close.
One of the world’s smallest and lightest pet trackers, the new Pod ($199; podtrackers.com) packs a few wireless technologies – including cellular connectivity, Wi-Fi, and GPS – which can help an owner track their pet’s whereabouts should it become lost. After you attach it to a pet’s collar, you can locate your pet on-demand, via an app, set up a wireless perimeter around your property (so you’re notified if they wander off), or record and playback their mapped adventures on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Pod is also an activity tracker, which could provide insight on your pet’s rest, walk and run levels.
Sony Dog Harness
While many people mount a first-person POV (“point of view”) camera to a bike, skateboard, helmet or drone, you could also attach it to your dog to record all of their escapades from their vantage point. Sony’s AKA-DM1 Dog Harness ($39; sony.com) works with the entire line of small Action Cams (from $199), by comfortably yet securely strapping the camera to a dog’s back. Press Record on the camera or via the Live-View Remote screen, and after it captures the HD or 4K footage (depending on the model) from their perspective, play it back on a television or computer, or upload for friends to see. The Dog Harness has adjustable straps and was designed for medium to large dogs over 30 pounds.
Columnist Marc Saltzman writes on tech devices and trends for USA TODAY. Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman.