playing with your pooch

The Latest Pet Tech: Love It, Lose It or Leave It?

Americans sure do love their pets, and it shows in the amount of money we spend on them. “Spending on pets has consistently increased, even during the last recession, and is projected to reach $76.6 billion in 2015,” according to Petco’s IPO filing.

As a result, many companies are banking on this growing trend in animal obsession by flooding the market with the latest pet gadgets—everything from doggy treadmills to a gun that shoots bacon-flavored bubbles. (Yes, that’s a thing.)

So we decided to do a little investigating to check out the latest in pet technology, then asked ourselves these three questions:

  • Do we LOVE IT?
  • Should we LOSE IT?
  • Or should we LEAVE IT on the list for special consideration?

Here are our thoughts on the latest and—sometimes—greatest pet technologies:


Fetch Machine

We’re all for keeping dogs stimulated and well exercised, but do we need a machine that takes the place of a game of fetch? Instead, let’s get off the couch and spend 10 minutes a day tossing a ball around with our favorite four-legged family member. And dogs need real attention, too. Isn’t that valuable one-on-one time and endless affection why you got a dog in the first place?

The Verdict: LOSE IT.

canine treadmill

Canine Treadmill

A treadmill just for dogs? At first we were going to dismiss this one for the same reasons we said no to the fetch machine, but then we thought there might be some exceptions. Some breeds of dogs need a ton of exercise to be happy and healthy. We’re not talking about a-walk-around-the-block kind of exercise; we’re talking two hours a day of hard aerobic exercise. Sometimes—especially when you have a new baby or are logging in long days at the office—it’s not possible to give Fido a two-hour chunk of time. In these cases, a treadmill should be considered. It’s not the same as taking a walk or run with Fido, but it’s preferable to behavioral and health problems that result from too little exercise.

The Verdict: LEAVE IT.

dog vacay

Dog Vacay

Dog Vacay is kind of like Airbnb for dogs. Your dog can stay in either your home or in the home of a caretaker. Either way, your dog gets to stay in a cozy house with one-on-one time with a trusted and insured pet sitter. To book, just type in your zip code, find a sitter near you, and schedule and pay online. It’s super easy, affordable, cage-free and a better alternative to a kennel in many cases. You can even get daily photo updates of your furry family member. It’s great!

The Verdict: LOVE IT!

find dog app

Finding Rover App

It’s heartbreaking to lose a pet. That’s why this new facial recognition app is such a great idea. All you do is register, download the app and take a picture of your dog. Finding Rover keeps the picture on file and alerts a large network of dog organizations and members in the event your dog goes missing. If someone finds your dog, they just snap a picture and the app does a facial recognition search in Finding Rover’s database. When it identifies your dog, your contact info pops up so your precious pup can be returned safe and sound.

The Verdict: LOVE IT!

puppy tweet

Puppy Tweets

When chronicling your dog’s every move on Facebook and Instagram just isn’t enough, there’s Puppy Tweets. Yes, your dog can now send out tweets on his own Twitter account. It’s about time! Here’s how it works: Just attach the Puppy Tweets tag to your dog’s collar, and as your puppy moves, barks, eats and plays throughout the day, it broadcasts one of 500 Tweets. It’s what every dog dreams about, right? Plus, there simply aren’t enough ways to waste time in this world.

The Verdict: LOSE IT.



PetChatz is described as a “joyful sensory experience” for your pet that “creates memories that last a lifetime.” You mount the device in your home at your pet’s level, and it lets you check in via a phone app or computer. While you’re gone, it dispenses treats and your pet’s favorite scents. And at about $350, it shows you really, really love your pet! But let’s be honest: Although your pet may recognize your face and voice, this little invention is more for your peace of mind than your pet’s. If it makes you feel better and you want to spend the money, go for it. Does it take the place of spending time with your pet? Heck, no.

The Verdict: LEAVE IT.


Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

Cleaning out a litter box is probably at the bottom of the list of things people look forward to doing. We can name a few things lower—like a colonoscopy or a root canal—but not many. That’s why self-cleaning litter boxes are so great. They basically eliminate the worst thing about cat ownership. Priced from about $40 to almost $400, self-cleaning litter boxes may cost a little more, but are well worth the money.

The Verdict: LOVE IT!

microchip for your pet


Microchips are fairly inexpensive and can easily be implanted by a veterinarian. To your dog or cat, the implantation feels much like a routine vaccination. It’s injected under the skin using a sterile applicator and is about the size of a grain of rice. If your pet gets lost and is taken to a vet clinic or animal shelter, they’ll scan him for a microchip to reveal his unique identification number. The number is then called into the pet recovery service, and you’ll be contacted using the information they have on file. Unlike a collar ID tag, a microchip can’t be removed or lost and should last your pet’s lifetime.

The Verdict: LOVE IT!

The Bottom Line

You can spend lots of money on all the latest gadgets, but that’s not what your pet really needs. Basically, he needs food, exercise and good, old-fashioned love and attention—the kind no technology will ever replace. We say stick to the classic toys—balls, stuffed animals and squeaky toys—but use technology if it’s a smart convenience and helps to protect your pet’s health and safety. Remember, your pet’s love is unconditional, and no gadget will make them love you any more.