Like the WIRED Gear Team, Takiguchi recommends the Fi Smart Collar, with its sleek look, good battery life (around three months before it needs a charge), and reliable cellular network.
If you enjoy taking your furry friends on long walks in the woods where you won’t have a strong cell signal, or live where service isn’t great, you may want to consider the Findster Duo, which isn’t dependent on a cellular network yet can track your pet for up to three miles.
Jenn Jones, a behavior specialist, dog trainer, and founder of Your Dog Advisor, is a fan of Whistle Go Explore.
“I started using GPS trackers when my dog, Astro, chased a squirrel when we were hiking. I couldn’t find Astro for several minutes and made sure to have a solid solution for when that happened again in the future,” she says. “Being able to locate my dogs using such technology is of great value.”
GPS Trackers can also help you understand your pet’s daily habits and needs, according to Paola Cuevas, a veterinarian and animal behavior specialist who recommends Tractive.
“Trackers are very useful for finding cats who like to hide and will also help you understand what areas your cat visits and how they move around,” she says.
“This enables you to detect if something is wrong. For example, if your cat usually moves around the neighborhood and you see they are stationary, you’ll know to check to see if they require help.”
GPS pet trackers have some drawbacks: They can be pricey, and certain companies require you to purchase a subscription plan. If that doesn’t fit within your budget, Bluetooth trackers make for a good (if more limited) alternative.
Pawscout helps track your pet’s location and gets a community of fellow pet lovers involved too. Use its app to file a lost pet report and Pawscouters within a five-mile radius will receive an alert to help you find your four-legged friend. If someone scans their Pawscout tag, you’ll receive a notification and be able to get in touch. Pawscout is affordable, doesn’t require monthly fees, and has a battery that lasts up to six months. However, its tracking capability has a short leash of only 300 feet.
Similarly, for Apple users, the AirTag carries the benefit of having a vast network to help you locate a lost pet (plus it’s wallet-friendly). While Apple hasn’t officially endorsed them for this purpose, Airtags are pretty good at finding your pet’s exact location and providing directions to where they are—providing they are within 30 feet of you.
If they’ve gone further, switching to Lost Mode enables you to receive updates on their whereabouts when the Airtag connects to another iPhone, iPad, or Mac. You can also enable someone to get your contact info by tapping the device with their phone. Of course, if you’re not an Apple person, this isn’t the gadget for you, and it works better if you live in a higher-density area.
Useful Apps and Websites
As with many things, the internet and smartphone apps remain powerful resources for lost pets.
In addition to using Facebook (many local communities have a “Lost Pet” page), Twitter, and other social media to spread the word, Nextdoor has a dedicated Pet Directory. By sharing your pet’s photos and important info with your neighbors, they’ll get to know them and be better equipped to ask for help in a time of need.