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Best GPS tracker for dogs & cats compared | NextPit

With a GPS tracker for dogs or cats, it is easy for you to keep an eye on your pets all the time. This is especially useful if your cat roams freely around the neighborhood or your dog likes to run away. In our comparison of GPS trackers for animals, we put forward popular models and tell you whether using an AirTag or SmartTag are good alternatives.

GPS tracker for dogs and cats in comparison

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What are GPS trackers for dogs and cats and how do I use them?

With a GPS tracker for dogs and cats, you can easily retrieve the location of your four-legged friends even when they are out of your sight. As the name suggests, GPS is used for this purpose. The Global Positioning System can pinpoint the location accurately to within several meters and is used in your smartphone for Google Maps or Pokémon GO, among other things.

In this article, we have also included the AirTag from Apple and Samsung’s very own SmartTags, which compensate for a missing GPS module by connecting to other devices. We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using these in detail later. To help you decide on getting one or forgetting about obtaining a GPS tracker for dogs or cats, we will dive into the details as well to provide greater clarity.

Differences you should look for when buying a GPS tracker for animals

With or without a subscription?

The first question you need to ask yourself when buying a GPS tracker for dogs or cats is whether you are willing to pay recurring costs. These costs are necessary because many trackers connect to the mobile network via a modem. Only through this manner is it possible to retrieve the location independent of a wireless connection to your smartphone. If this function is important to you, you must be prepared to fork out monthly costs that vary from a couple of dollars all the way to $10.

Ein Hund, der einen Tracker von Tractive am Halsband trägt.
The Tractive Dog 2 sits conspicuously on your dog’s collar / © Tractive

If you want to make do without a subscription, you will have to resort to Bluetooth or ultra-wideband for tracking. The radio standards are limited to just a few meters, so you have to approach your four-legged friend from a short distance. With the AirTag and SmartTag, you’ll get a more accurate location in areas with a higher population density. That’s because the item trackers share your location with the manufacturer’s servers via connected devices like smartphones or tablets, where you can then in turn retrieve the location.

Convenience features like activity tracking or runaway alerts

In addition to the ability to track your pet’s location, many trackers offer other useful features. In the table below, we’ve picked out popular features of GPS trackers for dogs and cats for you accompanied by a brief explanation.

Unique functions in GPS pet trackers

Function Use
Activity tracking Informs you about the active and resting phases
Virtual fence/runaway alarm Informs you when the pet leaves a certain zone/area
Position history Records the route your pet has taken
Beep Plays a sound that you can use it to condition your pet (works primarily for dogs)

Special features for pets are, of course, only available in this product category for models that were specially designed for dogs and cats. This rules out the AirTag and SmartTag See the table at the top of this article to find out which model offers such functionality.

Battery life

The battery life of object trackers and pet trackers differs greatly. However, with at least seven days’ worth of charge, all models in this article do last for quite a while. A shorter battery life is usually offered by models that are equipped with a cellular modem and GPS module. Apple’s AirTags and Samsung’s SmartTags offer a far longer battery life without these features.

Der AirTag an einem Schlüsselbund.
Instead of keychains, you can also attach the AirTag to your dog’s collar / © NextPit

In addition, they are powered by a single coin cell battery. The models with shorter battery life need to be recharged like a fitness tracker via an included charging cable.

Collar clip or external collar?

Although GPS trackers for dogs and cats target a very specific group, none of the models listed above come with an included collar. Instead, some models come with a plastic clip that can be attached to existing collars.

For the Apple AirTags, the Samsung SmartTag, and the Vodafone Curve Pet, you will have to buy an additional collar or clip. Alternatively, you can attach the SmartTags to your dog’s collar using a key ring.

Price

In addition to the monthly subscription fee which we already discussed at the start of our guide, there are also one-time costs for the purchase. These vary depending upon the model and range between $30 and $50.

AirTag vs. SmartTag vs. GPS tracker

When looking for GPS trackers for pets and cats online, the question of whether you can use Apple’s popular AirTags or other item trackers as an alternative constantly surfaces. The simple answer: Yes, because they offer a much more limited range of functions compared to actual trackers with GPS.

That’s because Apple’s AirTag and Samsung’s SmartTags don’t use GPS and rely on a network of devices to locate corresponding items. If you place an AirTag on your dog, you can first track it in your own home. Since dogs generally tend to stick to their owners, this feature is probably more useful for cats. However, the AirTag becomes interesting if your dog has managed to escape.

In this case, you can report your AirTag as stolen in the “Where is?” app and obtain an approximate location. But this is only possible if your dog runs past someone who has an Apple device in their pocket. If he runs into the woods while taking off, it would be an unfortunate turn of events. 

Click here for Apple AirTag review on NextPit

Item trackers do not provide absolute security, but they can be useful. Apart from tracking your dog/cat, you can also store your address on the tracker. If someone picks up your dog and sees the tracker on the collar, the person can then check out your contact details via phone and contact you that way.

Alternatives to GPS trackers for dogs and cats

If you are looking for alternatives to GPS trackers for dogs and cats, there are no digital solutions apart from the already mentioned object trackers. There is the old-school, analog method where you attach a tag with your address to your pet’s collar. If your dog is picked up, you will be contacted at best.

If your dog or cat has run away for a long time, it is also advisable to inform the local municipal council. In addition, experts on the web recommend setting up a feeding station near your apartment or house. If possible, it is also advisable to leave a door open for the lost animal to return safely.

What are your experiences with trackers for dogs or cats? Let us know in the comments!

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