There are a number of companies offering pet trackers in the UK, including PitPat.
What is a pet activity tracker?
Pet activity trackers are wearable tech for your pet. The majority of devices are designed for dogs and they can help you keep your pet healthy and safe.
Some devices, like PitPat, can tell what kind of activity your dog is doing - running, swimming, walking etc.
Some are equipped with GPS so that you can keep track of where your pet is at all time. This could be useful if your dog runs away at the park or if your dog is stolen.
Most trackers are robust enough to survive on your dog's collar.
Some, like PitPat, are waterproof and your dog can swim with them.
Pet activity trackers can help maintain a healthy weight
Eighty percent of dog owners believe their pet is an ideal weight but only 40% know their actual weight or BCS (body condition score - an equivalent of the human BMI), according to a 2018 report by the PDSA. This is where pet trackers can come in handy.
A tracker may be able to tell you whether or not your pet is getting enough exercise. Think Fitbit for dogs.
They can track how long your dog spends walking or running, and how many calories it burns. It can also tell you how long your dog spends resting.
You could use a track to check your dog sitter or walker is giving your pet enouh exercise. And you can use them to track how long you should be walking your dog every day.
Some pet activity trackers have a built-in GPS system.
Reviews of pet trackers available in the UK
- PitPat review PitPat says it is the UK's No 1 pet activity tracker. It's device fits on your dog's collar and tracks whether your pet is walking, running, playing or sleeping. The device connects to an app via bluetooth and you have to click the device to update the data. You can add your pet's weight to the app so PitPat can estimate the calories your dog has burnt and allows you to set goals to make sure you're keeping your dog fit. It does not have GPS so you can't track your pet if it is lost or stolen. The device cost £39 at the time of writing. It also has a subscription service called PitPat Life that includes the device and costs £4 a month, it allows owners to collect points that can be exchanged for prizes.
- TabCat review TabCat is designed to help owners find a cat that is missing. It uses radio frequency technology rather than Bluetooth or GPS and aims to direct you to your pet using audio and visual cues. It costs about £79.
- FitBark review This is a standard fitness and sleep tracker. It doesn't have GPS and is available for about £64.
- V-Pet Tracker by Vodafone review Vodafone offers a GPS tracker for £105. It connects to an app and you can set a safe zone so that it alerts you if your pet strays out of it. It is waterproof and has a batter life of 1-2days. It also keeps track of your pet's rest and exercise.
How do pet activity trackers work?
Pet activity trackers are designed to attach to your dog's collar. They contain a battery that doesn't heat up, so there's no risk of your dog getting hurt.
You have to download an app to your smartphone to collect your data. The trackers usually connect to your phone via a Bluetooth connection. All the data from the device is transferred to your phone and you can see what your furry friend has been up to.
If you have more than one dog, you can buy more than one activity tracker and collect all the data for your dogs on the same app.
Other trackers that allow you to track the location of your pet use cellular or GPS technology to keep tabs on your pet. Bluetooth-only trackers won't be able to track your pet very far because Bluetooth has a relatively short connection distance.
Some of the trackers that have GPS allow you to set a 'safe space' for your pet. This is a perimeter - such as your house and garden - and if your pet leaves this area you'll get a notification through the app.
Pet insurance policies can pay out to help retrieve a pet if it is lost or stolen. And Bought By Many offers up to £6,000 of cover for loss, theft or death on our Complete policy. Find out more about our pet insurance.
Other insurance companies offer specific services if your pet is lost or stolen. Our sister insurer ExoticDirect will notify the National Theft Register as soon as your pet goes missing, and again when it is found. Find out more about ExoticDirect.
Are there any risks using pet activity trackers?
Pet trackers do not pose any health risks to your dog. Most connect to your phone via Bluetooth and use a small battery that doesn't get hot while it is in use.
They are small enough that they will not cause your dog discomfort.
The PitPat activity attaches to your dog's collar with a simple Velcro strap.
You don't need to worry about getting your tracker wet because most of them are waterproof - to an extent.
The PitPat activity tracker is waterproof for short-term immersion up to 1m. If your dog is splashing around in the shallows at the beach, it should be fine but you may want to remove it if your dog is diving for toys in the pool.
It's worth considering what data you are giving to an activity tracker company and what would happen to it if you stop using it or the business goes bust. Although you are covered by data protection laws, some people may not be comfortable with a company collecting GPS data.
Human fitness wearable company Jawbone went into liquidation recently. Thankfully, the owner has started a new company to manage and maintain existing wearables.
Which insurers are including pet trackers in their deals?
Several insurers include pet activity trackers with their insurance. This is probably because RSA, the company that underwrites insurers such as John Lewis and 4Paws, has invested in PitPat.
PitPat uses a Bluetooth connection and does not track your pet's location using GPS.
John Lewis used to offer a PitPat activity monitor for free with any purchase of its Plus or Premier dog insurance but the offer ended on 5 October 2017.