Which pet tracker is best?

If you’ve ever lost your dog or cat, even for a few minutes, you know what a terrifying experience it is. With a pet tracker, you always can find your canine companion or feline friend. 

That said, some trackers are simply more effective than others, and some are only suited to specific uses or locations. The Whistle GPS and Health and Fitness, on the other hand, is a good versatile choice for dogs. 

What to know before you buy a pet tracker

Tracking methods

Pet trackers can use one of four tracking methods: GPS with cellular, GPS with a receiver, radio frequency or Bluetooth. The best choice for you depends on where and how you intend to use it. 

  • GPS with cellular: These trackers use GPS to locate your pet, but they rely on cellular service. This means there’s a monthly subscription fee to use them, and they don’t work anywhere without cell signal. However, they are accurate and give you real-time location information on your phone. 
  • GPS with receiver: GPS trackers that come with a receiver don’t need cell service to work, so they’re great for rural locations. Additionally, there’s no monthly fee. However, their range is more limited (though usually around 10 miles), and they’re expensive to buy. 
  • Radio frequency: Radio frequency trackers don’t rely on GPS, so there’s no monthly fee, and they work anywhere. However, they don’t show your pet’s location on a map. Instead, they work like radar, showing you the direction your pet is in and how far away. This can take a bit of getting used to. Plus, their range is limited to around 2 miles. 
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth trackers can only locate your pet up to around 500 to 800 feet away. They are great for finding cats who hide in strange places in your home but aren’t really suited to long-range tracking or finding your pet if they get loose. 

Health and activity tracking

In addition to tracking your pet’s location, some trackers also monitor your pet’s health and fitness. These are basically activity trackers for pets. They gather data like how far your pet has traveled in a day, the calories they’ve burned and the types of activities they’ve engaged in, such as running or playing. They can also alert you if your pet licks or scratches themselves too much, which could be a sign of a health issue. 

What to look for in a quality pet tracker

Tracking range

Some GPS trackers have unlimited range. As long as there’s cell service wherever your pet is, you could track their location from halfway around the globe. Others can only track within a few miles or less than 500 feet. 

Virtual perimeters

With certain trackers, you can set a safe place or a virtual perimeter. This might be around your home and yard, for instance. You’ll then get alerts to your phone if your pet strays out of this area.

Waterproof

If your pet loves to swim, make sure to choose a waterproof tracker so it won’t break should it get submerged. 

How much you can expect to spend on a pet tracker

Basic Bluetooth trackers start at around $10-$25, but their function is limited. High-end GPS units can cost as much as $800-$1,000, but you can find solid cellular-reliant GPS versions for around $100-$200. 

Pet tracker FAQ

How do you track a pet’s location? 

A. In most cases, trackers are compatible with a companion app. You download the app to your phone or tablet and use this to track your pet’s location. In the case of GPS trackers, you’ll see a map on the screen with a real-time location. 

With Bluetooth trackers, you use the app to “ping” the tracker so it makes a noise. This works for cats hiding under furniture but not for pets who’ve wandered miles away. 

You can also get radio frequency trackers and some high-end GPS trackers with their own handheld tracking unit. This displays your pet’s location either on a map or in the form of direction and distance information. 

How accurate are GPS pet trackers? 

A. Under optimal conditions, GPS trackers are accurate to less than 10 feet, so you can easily pinpoint your pet’s exact location. However, factors such as satellite position, weather conditions, buildings and topography can all affect their accuracy.

What’s the best pet tracker to buy?

Top pet tracker

Whistle GPS and Health and Fitness

Whistle GPS and Health and Fitness

What you need to know: Not only does this app track dogs via GPS, it also monitors their health and fitness. 

What you’ll love: You can track your pet anywhere with an AT&T signal. The app gives you data on your pet’s activity levels and calories burned, and it informs you of potential health concerns, such as scratching and licking. 

What you should consider: It’s not suitable for cats. It has a monthly subscription fee. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top pet tracker for the money

Jiobit Smallest GPS Tracker

Jiobit Smallest GPS Tracker

What you need to know: While not designed specifically for pets, it does a great job tracking dogs and cats. 

What you’ll love: The modular attachment system works on a range of collars. It’s small enough to fit cats comfortably. You can set “trusted places” and get alerts when your pet leaves them. 

What you should consider: You’ll need to pay a monthly fee to keep it functional. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Eureka Technology Marco Polo Advanced Pet Tracking System

Eureka Technology Marco Polo Advanced Pet Tracking System

What you need to know: Using radio frequency, you can track your pet over a 2-mile range even where there isn’t cell service. 

What you’ll love: The tracking tag is waterproof and compact enough for cats and small dogs. It’s great for rural areas where cell coverage is unreliable. There’s no monthly fee. The battery lasts up to six weeks. 

What you should consider: It takes a little while to get used to deciphering the tracking data. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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