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 (#2) looks promising. Many of the dog trackers and cat trackers available today are very good but all have some limitations. 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 location and one for longer distances.
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.
The Marco Polo Pet Monitoring System is simple to set up, simple to use and simple to maintain. The best feature of the Marco Polo system is that it has no monthly services fees so it can save you hundreds of dollars over your lifetime use of the product. So for this tracker the price for the tracker is all you need to invest in the system.
The Marco Polo includes a hand-held portable locator, a collar tag and charger and works like a radio frequency portable tracking unit. You can also add tags for monitoring two additional pets. The collar tags are suitable for use on medium and large pets ( recommended for 10 lbs or more but you can probably use it on large cats). It also has a very long battery life. The system range is up to 2 miles depending on terrain and obstructions so your happiness with the product will very much depend on where you live. You can select one of four safety zone settings for your pet and receive warnings in less than 80 seconds when your pet wanders. You can then set the system to tracking mode to go and find your pet. No internet or cellular access is needed so it is great for areas with spotty or no service. Many folks really like the ease of use of the Marco Polo trackers.
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 using GPS, WIFI and the 2G cell network and it also alerts you when your pet leaves the safe zone You can 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 even accurate enough for finding pets indoors as well.
The POD GPS is tiny and waterproof and fits on any dog or cat collar. 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 many reviews of this tracker but the reviews so far have been overall great reviews. I have not personally tried the item yet but the POD GPS seems to have many of the features I've been hoping for from a good pet tracker.
You can purchase the POD GPS at PetSmart here (with free shipping and free easy returns). 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.
The Tractive GPS Pet Tracker is a device designed specifically to track your pets and it works well for smaller pets. It offer accurate real time GPS tracking (with a few minute delay) from your computer or your Android or iPhone smartphone. 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, especially in the dark. There is an optional subscription service (currently $6.99 per month) that you can turn on and off at your convenience when you want to use their GPS service. Complaints about the system are about the short battery life of the system. It is also important that you have strong cell service to enjoy the features of this system.
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. While the delay is unfortunate and reduces the usefulness of the tracker, it is still better than most tracker 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.
Popular Item Finders Not Suitable As Pet Locators
A number of readers have asked if the Tile Item Finder would be a good tracker for pets. I don't recommend it. 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 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.
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 are the ones that are most worthy of consideration.Overall, the folks who like the tracker and got working ones are very happy with it.
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 April 2016.