Looking for the best pet locator for your dog or cat? Pet location trackers can have a range of capabilities or just a few; they range in price too, but you can probably find a good tracker to meet your budget. Of the many systems available, here are the top 5+ pet tracking systems that we recommend.
Pet location tracking systems today 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, finding your pet quickly can 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.
Pet tracking systems can be sweet and simple or highly sophisticated. Some location trackers are only intended to help you locate your pet; most rely on GPS information. Others, called pet activity trackers, track your pet's health and activity; they rely on cell phone and Bluetooth signals. And now, there are some trackers that track your pet's location and your pet's health and activity....
Here, I'm focusing on the top pet location trackers, based on how owners review them on Amazon and other sites. Some have extra features; some have a lot of extra features. Some of the trackers below use cell phone service as part of their tracking system. The service they use, be it AT&T, T-Mobile, or other, does not have to be the same service you generally use for your cell phone; it is a separate service which generally costs about $6 to $10 per month. Not too bad.
In choosing a pet tracker for your dog or cat, you will need to choose which set of features are important to you. Location trackers come in a range of prices, and there are some good systems out there that are relatively inexpensive and hassle-free that can help you locate your pets. Make sure you add in the subscription costs for your device. You just need to find the pet tracker that can work best for your needs and budget.
Here are 5+ pet tracking systems that have the best reputations among U.S. and Canadian customers. They can all accommodate multiple pets for additional fees.
The Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker is the highest-rated and most popular pet tracker on Amazon. It is a pet locator and an activity tracker that helps you monitor your pet's health. The locator functions with GPS, cellular, and Wi-Fi technology and works with any phone or computer with text capability, as it messages you through its app and then enables you to find your pet on a map. Free apps are available for Android and iPhones and it even gives you driving directions, but the tracking service is not free; plans start at $6.95 per month, and you can subscribe through the app itself.
Pet owners define the areas where their pets are supposed to be in the "Whistle Zone," and whenever they leave that vicinity, the owner is 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. Truly, all trackers experience some delay so "real time" is a relative expression when it comes to pet tracking. Nevertheless, most pet parents love this tracker. And the best part, I think, is that the Whistle has nationwide tracking!
The collar attachments are lightweight but too large for pets under 15 pounds. The Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker can keep a charge for up to 7 days! I think the Whistle 3 gives you the best bang for the buck, especially if you want a combination activity tracker and locator. Its reviews support this too.
The Link AKC won the CES 2017 best wearable electronic device award and it's been getting its fair share of thumbs up from dog parents who've purchased it. As a locator, this gadget uses cellular and Bluetooth technology to track your dog when she's nearby, and GPS technology when she gets out of the 'safe zones' you've drawn out. It communicates your dog's whereabouts through its cell phone app. In these ways the Link AKC is similar to several other pet trackers on the market.
But the Link AKC is also an activity tracker, a goal setter for your dog's exercise plan, a place to store your dog's veterinary records, a remote clicker-type training device, and a scrapbook for 'together' moments with your pup. As the device has a night-light that you can click on and off from the app on your phone. My favorite 'element' is the temperature tracker that alerts you when the ambient temperature in your dog's environment is more or less than the limits you set. You subscribe for monthly cell phone services through Link AKC, which currently uses AT&T, so the Link AKC is only available where AT&T cellular has service.
As of this writing, I believe the Link AKC has the most bells and whistles and, if you will use those bells and whistles, and you have good cellular service, it's a good choice. If you don't have the need for the extras, go for one of the more simple devices. Amazon customers seem to be happy with the Link for the most part; it is most often compared to the Whistle tracker (see No. 1, above). Some pet parents have commented about the device being too heavy for their pets (It is not recommended for pets under 15 pounds.), the battery having to be charged nightly instead of every 2 -3 days as indicated in the product literature, and some location errors in searching for their pets, but by and large the review are positive. The Link AKC has the widest range of capabilities of the other activity monitors here.
An interesting, yet simple, logical, and pretty well-endorsed tracking system is the Marco Polo System. It uses radio waves to monitor, track, and locate pets over 10 pounds. Though the manufacturer doesn't recommend the Marco Polo for cats, cat owners report that the Marco Polo has been a life saver for their outdoor cats. Dog owners stand strong behind the product as well.
The Marco Polo tracks and locates your pet up to a 2 mile radius of a central location, which moves with you if you are holding the locator. Once you establish and program safe areas for your pet, the radio waves notify you within seconds of his leaving that safe area, and will allow you to head in the right direction towards him and find him - even in someone's garage, if the wall is not TOO thick. You can search on foot or by car.
The Marco Polo Tracker is also waterproof!
The set comes with a handheld locator, a tag for one pet, and a charger, plus user guides. Although one system can accommodate up to 3 pets (even with different safe areas), this set comes with just one pet tag. Additional tags can be ordered here.
Battery life on the Marco Polo can last up to 90 days, although you may want to charge it more frequently. There is no subscription service, no monthly fee, just the cost of the monitoring system, which is higher up front than the other systems in this article, but lower when the others' monthly fees are considered. This pet tracking system is sweet and simple.
I know how fussy cats are about stuff around their necks. Even an ID tag is too much for my little devil. But the TabCat Cat Tracker weighs only 6 grams, and cat parents don't report any cat issues with it, so you may not have any either. The TabCat helps you find your cat using radio wave technology, not GPS. So there are no subscriptions, no apps, just 2 simple battery-operated locators and one tracking device. The locators can be used for two different cats and more locators can be purchased separately. The locators are covered with water proof material and slide easily over your cats' collars.
You may not be accustomed to radio technology, but it's very easy to use once you get the hang of it. This video from TabCat shows you how it works.
For the most part TabCat users are pleased with the devices. They only have a 200-400 foot range, so if your cat is occupied around your neighborhood, you will have to walk around a bit to find him. This is not a great device for dogs; I would use one of the other devices listed here if you are looking for a dog tracking device.
You can use the device to track your cat's whereabouts indoors as well as outdoors, but customers say it works better outdoors.
A really neat feature of the TabCat Cat Tracker is that the locate button on the tracking device rings on your cat's locator button when you press it, so you can use it to train your cat to come home!
The Tractive GPS Pet Tracker just upgraded to a 3G for U.S. customers.
The Tractive is strictly a pet or large animal tracking device designed to track your pets outside your home, and you can use it with your cell phone (iPhone 5 / iPad2 or newer (iOS8): Smartphones using Android Version 4.1 or newer) or a web browser anywhere there is good cell phone service. It is designed to find lost pets and it offers accurate live real time GPS tracking (with a few minutes delay) using location-available cell phone networks. The Tractive, like some other tracking devices, allows you to set an area where your pet is allowed (Safe Zones), and if your pet leaves that area, the Tractive will notify you on your device or computer. There is also a pet light and beeper on the device that can be activated to make it easier to locate your dog or cat, especially in the dark.
The Tractive works well for pets that are larger than 9 pounds. It is both durable and waterproof. The battery is supposed to last on one charge for two to five days, depending on signal strength. To be safe, customers suggest you turn the Tractive off at night. The Tractive only takes two hours to charge! There is a subscription charge for service.
Here are some other quality trackers we thought you might like to check out.
Just came out in 3G!
The Gibi is lightweight and waterproof!
Brand new, but check it out!
Great for the little guys, dogs and cats! Nice reviews!
New pet location and tracking devices are coming out all the time. Check back often as we regularly update this column! If you find something you like, let us know in the comment section below and tell us why you think it's a great device!
That's the buzz for today!
Originally published in October 2014 and updated frequently. Last updated July 2018