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Revealed: The smart gadgets that help you take better care of your pets

Latest devices can track fitness, prevent dogs and cats from getting lost and keep an eye on animals while their owners are out of the house

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 August, 2015, 10:44am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 March, 2016, 5:33pm

A hard life was once commonly called “a dog’s life”, but today’s pets have changed that definition. And in Hong Kong, there are more young couples and small families who adopt pets and treat them as an important member of the household.

Vada Chung, owner of the local pet store Whiskers N Paws, says: “It is now common for families with toddlers and children to share how much the family pet means to their children, how special their relationships are and the positive effect it has on children and family as a whole.”

As pets become an integral part of the family, research firm Euromonitor International reports that there was a “humanisation” trend last year in which pet owners want their pooches to get products and services closely modelled after ones that they enjoy.

With the pet-care business booming, tech companies are now jumping in. Chung has seen a wide variety of innovations, from auto-feeders to self-cleaning cat litter trays. With smart technology becoming such an important part of our lives, why not let it help take care of our pets?

While these gadgets are not intended to replace humans in caring for animals, “most of them are aimed at improving a pet family’s lifestyle”, Chung says.

Fitbit, the popular activity tracker that marries fitness with technology, is the inspiration for the FitBark. The small bone-shaped device is a waterproof activity monitor that attaches to your dog’s collar and monitors its everyday activity, including play and active and rest minutes. That data is turned into BarkPoints, which syncs with the free iOS and Android apps to let you track your pup’s progress anytime, anywhere. It’s available in five colours, and can be ordered at www.fitbark.com, which offers international shipping.

Ensuring your pet doesn’t stray too far from your side, the Tractive GPS tracker easily clips onto a collar and lets you keep tabs on your four-legged friends.  Weighing just seven grams, the device is light enough to use with small dogs and cats. The pet tracker has a battery life of seven days and stays connected to your smartphone or computer through iOS and Android apps. When pets step outside of a pre-determined safe zone, the app sends a notification. Owners can also track the location of their pets in real time, which proves particularly useful on hikes, in dog parks, and for cats who freely roam in and out of their homes. For more information, visit www.connected.hk, where you can find a discount for members of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (HK) and Hong Kong Dog Rescue.

The Petcube is a Wi-fi-enabled camera for pet owners to use at home. It is ideal for working owners who have to spend long hours at the office while their pets are left alone at home. Owners can not only monitor their pets through the iOS- and Android-compatible device, they can also talk to and play with their pets using a built-in laser pointer toy that’s controlled by their smartphones. The Petcube app also accesses an online community where owners can share their pet stories, communicate with other pet owners and play with other dogs and kittens worldwide. More details can be found at www.petcube.com. While the official site does not currently offer shipping to Hong Kong, interested owners can order a Petcube to be delivered from Amazon.