Looking for the best pet locator for your dog or cat? Today's pet tracking systems are so sophisticated that they can find your cat, dog, farm animal or even tortoise, on your property, at your neighbor's across the street, or clear across town. An investment in one can definitely ease that sense of powerlessness and fear that can overcome you when you've lost your pet. More importantly, a tracker can help you find your pet and possibly save your pet's life. There are powerful systems that come with a hefty price tag, but there are also less expensive trackers on the market too that work pretty well; it all depends on your needs.
While the technology is changing rapidly, there are still no standouts that are clearly better than the rest in pet tracking systems, although the POD GPS (#1) looks most promising. Many of the dog trackers and cat trackers available today are very good but all have some limitations. The currently available technology is still evolving so there are issues with almost every tracker.
In choosing a pet tracker for your dog or cat, you will need to choose which set of features are important to you. You may also want to consider combining two trackers to get the set of featured you are looking for, perhaps one that is very good for close by locations like finding your cat inside your home and one for longer distances for lost dogs. There is no excellent pet locator yet. You will not be able to find a tracker that does not need a battery, is super tiny and completely durable and that can notify you on your computer and your phone on a terrific interface where your cat or dog is instantly and continuously for free. It does not exist as of now. But there are some good systems out there that are relatively inexpensive and hassle-free that can help you locate your pets. You just need to find the one that can work best for your needs.
Here are 5 pet tracking systems that have the best reputations among U.S. and Canadian customers. They are listed from highest price to lowest.
Pod GPS and Wifi Tracker claims to be the smallest and lightest real-time GPS pet tracker in the world. It helps you locate your dog or cat anytime on demand indoors and outdoors using GPS, WIFI and the 2G cell network and it also alerts you when your pet leaves the safe zone. You can also monitor their activity with their fitness tracking app and even record their adventures. The new Pod 2 also features Wifi capability which allows for faster location locks and is even accurate enough for finding pets indoors. Very few locators are good at finding your cat or do indoor and outdoor so this is a key benefit of the Pod.
The POD GPS is small and waterproof and fits on almost any dog or cat collar so it will work well with smaller dogs and cats. It weighs about 1 ounce and is around 2 inches by 1 inches. It includes two interchangeable batteries so there is never a down time when your pet is without the tracker.
The POD GPS just launched in late December 2015 so there are not a huge number of reviews of this tracker but so far there are overall mostly very positive reviews at PetSmart and on Amazon. I have not personally tried this pet locator yet but the POD GPS seems to be one of few trackers with most of the features I've been hoping to find in a good pet tracker.
The POD relies on 2G service, so make sure you have 2G service before you buy this tracker if you want to use it when you are away from your computer. You can check here. The makers have plans to provide a tracker relies on the 3G network but it won't be free so know when your supplier in shutting off 2G service. ATT is planning on shutting 2G service January 2017 and T-mobile and Verizon in January 2020. Owners of the old system can upgrade to the new system for 50% of the purchase price.
You can purchase the POD GPS at PetSmart here (with free shipping and free easy returns) and also on Amazon here. The POD is a subscription based service. The first year is included in the price and each year thereafter is currently priced at $49 per year. Coverage for the POD tracker is good using almost any cell phone in the United States and also in Canada. If you are looking for a pet gps tracker in Canada, this is the one you want to try if you have 2G service.
The Tractive GPS Pet Tracker is a device designed specifically to track your pets outside your home and you can use it with your cell phone or a web browser anywhere where there is good cell phone service. It is designed for finding lost pets and it offers accurate live real time GPS tracking (with a few minutes delay) using available cell phone networks to access real-time data. One interesting feature of the tracker is the Tractive Safe Zone which allows you to set an area where your pets should be, and if you pet leaves that areas, will notify you on your smartphone. Another nice feature of the Tractive is the light and beeper which can be activated to make it easier to locate your dog or cat, and keep your pet safe, especially in the dark. There is an optional subscription service (currently $6.99 per month) that pays for access to the cellular service but you turn it on and off at your convenience when you want to use their GPS service.
The tracker is around 2 inches by 2 inches so it is a bit big for smaller cats and dogs, so it works well for pets that are larger than 9 pounds. The tracker is durable and waterproof and complaints about the system are usually about the short battery life of the system (around 24 hour hours on live tracking mode). It works in the U.S., Canada and 80 other countries but it is important that you have strong cell service to enjoy the features of this system. The Tractive gets some mixed reviews...but if you have good cell service and need something to help you locate your pet outside in real time, this is one of the better systems available.
The Whistle GPS Pet Tracker is a pet locator and an activity tracker that helps you monitor your pet's health. The locator functions with GPS technology and the Verizon network and works with any phone or computer with SMS capability, as it messages you by their app or text and then enables you to find your pet on a map. Free apps are available for Android and iPhones even give you driving directions, but the tracking service is not free; it's about $10.00 a month, and you cannot use the system without paying that service fee.
Pet owners define the areas where their pets are supposed to be in the "Whistle Zone", and whenever they leave that vicinity, they are alerted. Some users of the Whistle noted that there is a lag between the time the dog leaves the Whistle Zone and they received the alert, so it is not quite real time. While the delay is unfortunate and reduces the usefulness of the tracker, it is still better than most pet trackers out there.
The collar attachments are lightweight but too large for pets under 15 pounds. It has around a ten day battery life for the tracker which is great. The Whistle GPS Pet Tracker is available here.
The Gibi Pet Location Service Unit is a waterproof lightweight locator for tracking and finding your pets in real time. The Gibi tracking device uses an online web-based application for your computer (and using your mobile device without a mobile app yet) to locate your pet on Google maps. You have to sign up for their monthly service for about $10 per month. It does not have a limited range and should work anywhere there is satellite and internet service. You can set custom safe zones for your pet which is a great feature. Reviews of the product are a bit mixed on Amazon and Walmart. It is clear that the device is new and they are still working out some of the kinks but some of its unique features like the real time tracking and custom zones make it worthy of consideration.
In Britain, one of the favorites is the Retrieva GPS Pet Tracker, but I have not found it available in the U.S. If you are looking for a serious tracker and willing to pay for it, the Garmin has a pet tracker for sporting dogs.
Best Pet Tracking System No 5: The Limited Range Pet Locators
The Loc8tor Lite is not a great GPS based pet tracking system but it is a RFID tracking device that can be very good at helping you locate your dog or cat if it is close by. It is really intended for finding your lost phone or lost keys but I have included the Loc8tor her because it can does a nice job finding your pets inside your home or close by. The handheld main unit helps direct you to your pets and the tags chirp and light up to help making the task of finding your cat or dog easier. It does a good job for a very limited purpose but if you just need something to help you find your pet and you are not too concerned about finding your pet over larger distances, the Loc8tor Lite may work well for your needs. (Loc8tor used to have a pet locator but unfortunately, it has been discontinued.)
A number of readers have asked if the Tile Item Finder would be a good tracker for pets. I don't recommend it as a full range pet locator. It only works for a range of about 150 feet. That's not enough of a range to really find your pet if it gets lost outside of a very small range. It's definitely better than nothing (though probably not as good as the Loc8tor Lite) and if you already have the Tile, it makes sense to add one to your pets collar but it's not reliable enough for me to recommend it. It may be a good enough device for locating your cat when it hides in your home if that's what you need.
Others have asked about XY Find It. This device does not provide real time data. Rather, it just reminds you of the last time they had a reading It's great for finding things lost around you but not reliable or really that useful for finding a lost pet.
Some of these small tracking devices can definitely help you find your pet, especially if you are constantly looking for your pet indoors. But they really don't have the features that make them suitable for locating a missing pet reliably. Luckily, a number of companies have products in the works. But for now, the ones I listed above as 1-4 are the ones that are most worthy of consideration.
Hopefully with one of these helpful devices, you will never lose your pet....even for a few minutes.
That's the buzz for today!
Originally published in October 2014 and last updated September 2016.