From toys to trackers, pet products are going high tech |
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Shirley McMarlin

A survey by the American Pet Products Association showed that pet owners in the United States spent about $70 billion on pet products in 2017.

Figures for 2018 aren’t in yet, but APPA projects that the final number will surpass $72 billion.

That’s a lot of kibble — and treats, clothes, toys, beds, grooming and more.

Increasingly, our pet budgets also include high-tech items that help keep our pets healthy, happy and safe. Here are a few products getting some buzz on shopping websites and pet product platforms:

Pawscout, The Smarter Pet Tag

This smartphone-compatible name tag attaches to your pet’s collar to keep track of its movements.

Like an activity tracker, the tag logs walk distances. It also has a live map for spotting the pet in real-time as long as it is within 300 feet of anyone with the Pawscout app. The app will alert all users in the area when a pet goes AWOL.

For added security, there’s a “virtual leash” function to warn owners if Fido spies a squirrel and decides to head for the hills.

You also can use the app to create a digital profile of your pet, with photos, contact info, vaccinations and behavioral or medical issues.

Get more information at

iFetch Interactive Ball Launcher

Your arm feels like a wet noodle, but your dog wants to keep playing fetch. What do you do?

You could check out this tennis ball launcher with the staying power of, dare we say, Jake Arrieta.

The iFetch comes in two sizes, for large and small dogs. It launches regular tennis balls or special mini balls either 10, 20 or 30 feet, and there’s a built-in storage compartment.

The idea is to teach the dog to reload the launcher himself for up to 300 rounds of nonstop fetch before it needs recharging.

Check it out at, where the price is $115 for the small-to-midsize launcher and $199.99 for mid-to-large.

Pebble Smart Doggie Doorbell

There will be no more claw marks on your door, once Fido is trained to use his own personal doorbell.

Install one inside, so he can tell you when nature is calling, and a second one outside, so you know when he’s finished.

The device contains a treat holder that helps with training.

It’s weatherproof and wireless, with a range up to 250 feet, and gives you a choice of 36 tunes, suitable for your dog’s sensitive hearing. Better yet, no tools are required for installation.

The device is $30 at

PetSafe Laser Tail Automatic Laser Light Cat Toy

You’re bored long before kitty gets tired of chasing the red dot from your hand-held laser toy.

The solution? This toy that moves around the floor under its own power, and displays a variety of light patterns for the cat to chase.

It also turns off automatically after 10 minutes, to avoid a feline frenzy of over-stimulation — or to save battery power if kitty has already become bored and walked away, which is more likely.

Buy it for $20.95 on

Pet cameras

If you miss your pet while you’re at work, or you have concerns about their health and safety, you can check in during the day with a pet camera.

There are a variety of smartphone-compatible models on the market, some that offer surveillance only, some that add two-way audio, others with treat dispensers and aromatherapy, others that stream pet-friendly entertainment and still others that let your pet call you.

There’s even night vision capability.

From the ZModo EZCam ($38.49 from Walmart) to the PetChatz HD PawCall ($479.99 from Amazon), there’s a list of the seven best pet cams for 2019 at

Collar cameras

It’s not like most people let their pets roam unsupervised these days, but how interesting would it be to send a dog out for a day with a camera and see what images come back?

Even if you’re just going for a walk around the block, you can get a dog’s-eye view with a collar camera.

Much like indoor pet cams, collar cams come with a variety of features. Depending on the make and model, they’ll shoot photos either manually or automatically, record audio and video and upload to the cloud or another device.

The Motorola SCOUT5000 Wearable HD Pet Camera even has GPS tracking and virtual fencing capabilities, all for around $143.

Chest and back harness cameras also are available.

A list of the 25 top-rated collar cameras and accessories for 2019 is available at

Self-cleaning potties

Cat owners have long had the convenience of self-cleaning litter boxes, while dog owners relied on “pee pads” for indoor rest stops.

Scooping is obsolete with the use of the self-cleaning cat boxes that rake waste into a disposable litter tray.

For about $282 on, the CatGenie 120 Self-Washing Self-Flushing Cat Box takes it a step further. The toilet-shaped device flushes the waste away and washes itself clean.

Hookups to cold water and an electrical outlet are needed.

But there’s good news for dog owners, too — now there’s BrilliantPad, billed as the first self-cleaning puppy pad and dog potty.

BrilliantPad is recommended for training puppies and for dogs under 25 pounds. Makers say it’s not meant to replace regular outside walks, but to be used when outdoor toilet time is not available.

The machine consists of a platform that holds the pads, which handle both solid and liquid wastes. Waste matter is automatically wrapped and sealed, and the pad can be advanced manually or with an automatic timer to keep things fresh throughout the day.

The device is listed at $149.99, with rolls of pads starting at $19.99, at

Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker and Activity Monitor

The device attaches to your pet’s collar and provides tracking from down the block to — in case he hops a freight train — across the country on the AT&T cellular network.

Owners get location alerts by email, app and text.

This product requires a Wi-Fi network and an AT&T subscription plan. The device itself is $99.95 at

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