Smart technology is running our lives. Most of it has long ago gone over my head, but I still find it almost impossible to be without my smartphone, my laptop, my Bose speaker paired with Alexa, or the Roku television. And online shopping! As one who abhors shopping and leaves Walmart frazzled and irritated every time, I can’t live without the convenience of online stores. That’s enough for me though, thank you very much.
Did you ever think this technology could help make your pet’s life better? Here are a few things you might find invaluable.
Fountains: Pets will naturally gravitate to moving water, and the fountains give the illusion that it’s a fresh mountain stream. Because of that, they may actually drink more water with this device. A highly rated one is the Petsafe Drinkwell Platinum fountain.
Feeders: These devices can be set to deliver a set amount of food and even at a designated time during the day. Your pet won’t be able to empty the whole thing in one fell swoop.
Invisible fences: You can install them indoors too if you have an area of the home that’s off limits to the dog. The dog will need to wear a special collar that emits a signal warning him of the boundary, then a shock if he goes beyond. There are pros and cons to these. Some dogs react with abject fear; some with aggression to whatever they think caused the shock. If a dog is trained properly, they work great — until they don’t. A real fence, if possible to do in your situation, is a better idea.
Electronic doors: These are weather resistant and energy efficient and safe for children and pets. Plus, they will only open for your pet. No more raccoons popping in during the night!
Bark control: If your dog is a constant barker, there are bark collars that silence the dog when he barks by vibrating (not shocking), and devices that emit a tone that stops him from barking.
Smart sensors: These devices can be located in your home in areas that are forbidden to the pet, such as the garage, where antifreeze or other toxins may be stored, or kitchen cabinets, where poison cleaning products are kept. They can be put on doors or windows, sensing when they are open. When these sensors are connected, they will sound an alarm or send a video to your smartphone.
GPS trackers: These devices come with GPS technology, allowing you to track the whereabouts of your pet. Collars or attachable units are available. Some have LEDd that you can turn on at nighttime. Some can even be programmed to set safe areas for your pet and will alert you if he strays outside of those areas. You can even keep your pet’s medical records stored in some models. For indoor/outdoor cats, these could be very helpful, but be sure to get the kind that attaches to your cat’s quick release collar.
Cameras: Activated by motion, these cameras will send a live video to your smart phone when your pet passes in front of it. They could be used to monitor your pet while you are at work. Furbo tosses treats, has HD live streaming and night vision, two-way chat, and will alert you if it detects barking.
Smoke detectors: These aren’t just smoke detectors anymore, but also carbon monoxide and even pollen, dust or pollution detectors. How many times do we read about house fires where the owners thankfully weren’t home, but several pets were lost? You can set them up to alert you on your smartphone wherever you are.
Speakers: These are programmable and voice activated. Suppose your pet is deathly afraid of thunderstorms. You can program the speakers with soothing sounds or music when you’re away from home. Or you can even turn it into an intercom and remotely speak to your pet to reassure him. Or maybe you just want to talk to him during the day while you’re at work.
Beds: These beds have climatic control and can record your pet’s weight, activity and rest levels. I do like the idea of climatic control for our senior pets.
Toys and games: Operate a laser remotely from work so your cat can chase it around the room. PetChatz has a two-way camera that you can mount on the wall so your pet can see and hear you. Then, to top it off, it will actually throw Fido a treat on your command. The Anthouse pet robot is kind of like a Roomba for pets. It does some of the things other devices do, such as dispense treats, record video and live stream, but it also will actually throw a small tennis ball up to 28 feet. That might not be so good in the living room. Wickedbone is a bone-shaped interactive toy that you control, or not. It rolls around by itself and reacts to the dog’s touch with a variety of maneuvers. The list of interactive — not necessarily “smart”— toys is endless.
Activity trackers: Kind of like the popular Fitbit, but for your pet. It can even be synched with your Fitbit or Apple watch.
Self-cleaning pee pads: A super absorbent pad dries out what your dog deposits and then — drum roll please — wraps and seals it. It can be set to do this at certain intervals.
And the list goes on. New things for pets will be added as fast as you can sing the chorus of “Those Were the Days.” But are they really good for your pet? Well, yes ... and no. Technology to temporarily entertain your pet, or calm him or allow you to check on him is a good thing. But it can’t take the place of you. Remember that your pet knows you by sight, smell, touch and sound. He shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time no matter what kind of super-duper technology becomes available. No device can substitute for the warmth of your touch, your throwing that tennis ball to your dog, tossing a fur mouse to the cat or taking your dog for a walk in the woods. You are his caretaker. Ultimately, your pet’s safety and well-being are up to you.
Gucci’s Tip of the Month
Gucci wants to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving! She also wants to remind you to not fall for the doe-eyed, pathetic looks from Fido while you’re eating your turkey. Some traditional Thanksgiving foods can be bad for the family pet. A small bit of turkey breast — not the skin or dark meat — and maybe a few green beans or bite of plain sweet potato would be okay, but skip the stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pie. Don’t risk stomach upset, diarrhea or worse, pancreatitis that can be life threatening. Be sure to safely dispose of turkey bones so dogs or cats can’t get them.