Pet technology gains popularity

So many things in life now rely on technology. Pet owners are using technology to keep a watchful eye, help with behavioral problems and even find lost pets in an instant.

Kristen Levine, a national pet expert with more than 20 years of experience, explained how technology has become a tool that pet owners are using more and more.

She said her lifelong passion for pets has taken her from working with the Tampa Bay animal shelter in public relations, to today, as she is working as a media spokesperson for multiple pet companies and is writing a book on pets.

Her experiences have led to her to an understanding as to why people do what they do, and why people purchase what they do for their pets.

“I have a well-rounded view on how people make decisions about adopting and purchases for pets,” she said.

Her biggest passion is being a pet lifestyle expert.

“I like to help pet owners with solutions and resources to make their lives easier,” she said.

Technology is doing that for pet owners today.

“Seventy-five percent of pet owners admit they are worried or anxious when they leave their pets at home,” she said.

Over the past three-to-five years, tech tools for pet owners have been on the rise, and Levine said the industry for that is booming now.

“Emerging technology like Comcast’s Xfinity Home Service was created for humans and is a really great tool for pet care,” Levine said.

For instance, the video monitoring system allows one to check in on their pet at any time by logging on a computer or using a smartphone.

“You could be at work or on vacation on the other side of the globe and you can see what your pets is doing, depending on where the camera is placed,” Levine said.

Practical uses of the system could allow one to check in on a sick pet, one that had recent surgery or even a new puppy.

“You can see how they are doing, without leaving work to come home and go back,” she said.

Behavioral problems also can be monitored this way too.

“You can trouble shoot behavioral problems. Bad behavior often happens in the absence of the pet owner, and sometimes we aren’t sure who the culprit may be,” she said.

The system also offers a way to control lights and thermostat.

“If you have to work late you can log on and turn on the lights or if the temperature is dropping significantly you can warm up the house,” Levine said.

Pet sitter’s or dog walkers can be monitored while caring for pets with the system.

“You can get a text on your phone when someone arrives and leaves the home. That way you can tell if a pet sitter is coming two time a day and doing what you asked,” she said.

Jamila Patton, senior manager, Communications for Comcast, said when Comcast launched Xfinity Home if was first for those who wanted a security system with remote monitoring for their home, which they could access from a mobile device.

“We first launched the service we didn’t think pet owners could use this service but then customers and reporters were telling us how they were,” Bilotta said. “It evolved and we developed this platform.”

There are a range of tiered services, depending on how many sensors and cameras one chooses.

Other tech offerings

GPS devices have come to be very popular with pet owners in helping to find lost pets and to be reassured they can easily get their dog or cat back if it escapes or gets lost.

Levine said her favorite is Tagg the Pet Tracker, which her dog Chilly is outfitted with.

“Its the first designed for use on a dog collar, it is light weight curved design to be streamlined with the collar and the GPS device,” she said.

After set-up, you adjust your “geo-fence” which is like a safety areas where your pet can roam, and if he or she gets out of that area, you will receive a text.

“So if you are not home and he gets out, I can get to him right away or I can log on and locate him within 100 feet,” Levine said.

Once when she was on vacation, Levine’s sister was dog sitting and Chilly got out. She went online and a saw that he was a few houses down.

Smart toys are growing in popularity, too.

Some smart toys for cats include a timer that can be set so the toy will turn on and the cat can play with it, all while no one is home. It’s called the FrolicCat BOLT and it uses a series of laser lights to play with the cat.

“When the toy turns on they hear the noise and associate it with the toy,” she said.

For dogs, she mentioned a new toy coming this holiday season called iFetch, which is an automatic tennis ball launcher. It helps with dog’s who want to just keep playing fetch over and over.

“For practical uses in the home there are automatic feeders, watering devices and automatic cleaning litter boxes,” she said.

Some of these litterboxes use less litter and Levine said over the course of year can cover the cost of itself, for what one saves in litter.

Pet related apps for the smartphone are popular as well.

“Some you can play fun games with cats and other are practical that can help manage vet or grooming appointments,” she said.

Levine thinks pet tech is on the rise because it seems whatever is popular for people becomes popular for pets just in a few short years.

“We are using more and more technology every day to manage our lives and pets are part of our lives,” she said.