Seven out of 10 American households have a pet, and 90 percent of pet owners consider their dog or cat a member of the family. That can make holiday travels without Max and Mittens a wrenching affair.
Thankfully, the internet offers an array of potential solutions. Pet sitters, dog walkers, pet cameras and automatic feeders won’t stop you from missing your favorite fur ball, but can make their staycation safe – and even fun.
Here’s a few we find both intriguing and useful.
Care.com connects pet owners to pet sitters, with the added assurance of paid third-party background checks and references. Pet owners can search for sitters within a specific geographic area, and specify their preference. And when we say specific, we mean it: Search criteria lets clients select not only the sitter’s hourly rate and whether they’re an individual or part of a pet sitting company, but even choose a smoking preference and exclude teenaged sitters.
Rover.com offers similar services, and requires its sitters pass a background check. Additionally, sitters must fill out a detailed profile and get approved by a team of sitter specialists. In fact, the screening process is so rigorous Rover.com accepts than 20 percent of prospective sitters. Clients can also review sitters, offering another level of screening for owners new to the site.
Don’t want to rely on a human? Try the Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker and Activity Monitor. When it’s attached to a pet’s collar, you can monitor its activity from your phone and see if it’s getting enough exercise. The GPS can also track your pet’s whereabouts in case they get lost or into mischief, sending you alerts via text, email or app.
If you’re taking a short trip, consider an automatic feeder. The PetPal WiFi Automatic Pet Feeder lets you dispense food from your phone, or schedule feedings. The included camera, microphone and speaker also give you a bit of quality time watching, listening and talking to Felix while he chows down.
While there are no shortage of pet cameras, the Furbo offers a dog-gone impressive amount of options for a fun, virtual hangout with your dog. Equipped with WiFi and two-way audio, it lets you toss treats to them from afar, watch a round-the-clock livestream, get a notification when your dog barks, and receive an alert when a person enters your home. When Fido faces the camera, it’ll even take a selfie and send it to your phone.
Since we believe in equal time, here’s one just for Tabby: A smart litter box that’ll help you monitor your cat’s health while you’re home or out of town. The Tailio measures your feline’s weight, waste and elimination behaviors. That info is used to track trends that could signal a change in health. It includes a downloadable app that can send alerts to your phone if something appears amiss. Can a toilet version for humans be far behind?