Pet cameras can come in handy for a variety of reasons. Maybe you want to keep a close eye on your cat or dog to ensure they're not getting into mischief while you're away and give you a little peace of mind. Maybe you just want the fun of seeing the shenanigans your pets get into while the humans aren't around.
Regardless of your reason for needing a pet camera, if you're shopping for a pet monitor at the moment, you might find yourself overwhelmed with the options. There are quite a few.
We're breaking them down for you, though, to make your shopping experience easier. Check out the 9 best pet cameras for watching your furry friends while you're away.
Pet owners love the Pawbo Life Pet Camera due to its wide range of pet-friendly features. It livestreams real-time video of your pets, in 1080p HD video, and allows you to watch the video from your phone. During a live stream, you can zoom in (with 4x zoom), take still photos and even keep clips of video stored on your device. You can also use the talk feature to interact with your pet while watching, and if you "call" your pet, the camera plays a little sound that alerts them.
The camera allows up to eight people to individually use its features from afar, so you can give everyone in your family access to the camera, or even add your pet sitter as a user so that they can check-in as well.
Beyond this, Pawbo interacts with your pet in myriad ways, which may help pets with separation anxiety. For cats, there's a laser accessory for a game of laser tag (either controlled by you or automated). For both dogs and cats, the camera will spit out some treats.
The Furbo Dog Camera immediately gets points for its aesthetic appeal. The sleek design sports a minimalistic white body and a wooden top, for something you might see from any popular tech brand. Unfortunately for cat owners, though, this pet camera is designed with only dogs in mind.
Beyond being able to see your dog via the dog monitor's live streaming functions, there's a notification feature that sends a push notification to your phone when your dog barks (with special filters, so you aren't getting messages for every little noise); a treat dispenser; and training features like clicking noises and lights, so patient pet owners can teach Fido to sit for a selfie and a treat when they hear or see certain stimuli.
While the camera is available on Amazon, if you pay an extra monthly fee, you can access additional Furbo features, such as motion detection and an activity alert that tells you when your dog is doing something naughty, video compilations that are automatically edited, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and stranger alerts.
Another popular pet camera option, the Petcube Bites 2, is favored for several reasons.
Firstly, the built-in treat dispenser is on the larger side so that you can fit a wider array of treat types inside, and the dispenser carefully feeds one treat at a time, so your pup isn't getting more than you want. Secondly, the live-stream video quality is top-notch. Lastly, you can share the livestream as you like, but you don't have to give everyone free reign to the camera, as you might when sharing with the Pawbo camera.
Unfortunately, Petcube does charge you an additional monthly fee if you want to store your video in the cloud.
The PetChatz HD PawCall has unique features that make it stand apart from the pack, primarily with the camera's screen, allowing pets to see their owners when you're talking to them. This can make the experience much more comfortable for your pet, as it will enable them to see your face while you're talking to them, rather than just hearing a disembodied voice coming from this new and potentially scary inanimate object.
Another cool feature is the pet signaler, which you can train your pet to use, to activate the camera. Essentially, your pet will step on a button, and you'll get a notification that they did so, allowing you to check in on them. The idea is that it allows your pet to "call" you, which may not be realistic that your pet is thinking along those lines, but it's a cute thought.
The camera also has capabilities that allow you to play videos for your pets if you have a dog who likes television, for example. It also has a treat dispenser that can be activated remotely from your phone or through games that your dog can play on their own to win treats. There's even an aromatherapy setting!
Another sleek, aesthetically-pleasing pet camera, the Lovoom cam, is minimalistic and white, with a black border. A few of the stand-out features include the ability to operate the camera without WiFi connectivity and the considerable range of wide-angle video that you can capture thanks to the 180-degree panning. Of course, you have your standard 2-way audio and high-definition recordings.
The treat-throwing feature is pretty nice, too, as it can throw the treats versus simply dispensing them, up to 10 feet away from the camera, which adds a playful spin to giving your pet a treat that they don't get with the other cameras on this list.
A little more like a toy than a serious security camera for your pet, the Skymee Owl Robot is a mobile camera. The little owl face on a rolling cylinder hides the camera features and takes video, allowing for two-way audio as it rolls around your house, following and interacting with your dog or cat.
Of course, the camera comes with a treat dispenser, high-def video, two-way audio and night vision.
The primary downside to this option, though, is that it is more like a toy or fun gadget than something to keep your pet safe and feeling secure while you're gone (which might not be a big deal for some pet owners). You may also want to consider if there's a high probability of the device getting stuck under or on furniture while you're not there.
One of the OG pet cams, Petzi's been around for a few years. It's a pretty basic option, with all of the features you might want — live video, treat dispensing, photo capturing. However, this is one of the few cameras that only allows for live streaming, not video recording. Given that, it's more suited to pet owners who want to randomly check in on their pets while they're away, not those who want to keep an eye on everything their pet does during the day.
The camera is designed to be mounted onto the wall near your pet's height.
This affordable pet camera option is unique in that, rather than dispensing treats, it gives your pet their entire meal when you're not there to do it for them.
The high-def camera captures 120-degree video, with night vision, and offers two-way audio. There's also an option to record some audio that plays for your pet before feeding time, in case you usually call them to dinner with a particular word or phrase.
Of course, because the feeder has a pet bowl attached for the food dispenser, it does have to sit on the ground, meaning you're not capturing all the video you possibly could with another camera.
This Alexa-compatible smart home pet camera is more similar to an average home security camera than most of the cameras on this list. It offers 350-degree panning capabilities, 100-degree tilting, 8x zoom functions and high-def clarity, even at night. The HD camera detects noise and tracks motion, following your pet around the room. Two-way audio is available.
You can keep your video long-term, too, with functionality for both SD card storage and cloud storage.
Unfortunately, this camera does not allow for pet dispensing or other fun features.
A Pet Camera Alternative
If you're not sure you want to invest in a pet camera just yet, there are other ways you can go about tracking your pet's activity.
The Whistle GPS Tracker and Activity Monitor, for example, allows you to monitor your pet's daily activity and track where they are. You get text, app and email notifications when your pet leaves home (so you know if your teen actually did walk the dog), and there's even data on how much your pet should be exercising based on their age, weight and breed.
The tracker works on WiFi and is battery-powered, with the battery lasting up to seven days. It's also waterproof.
Why choose a pet-specific camera over a security camera or baby monitor?
Why pay for a pet camera, you ask, when you could just buy a security cam or baby monitor? Well, there are usually some key differences. Sure, while you could technically keep an eye on your pet via a security camera or baby monitor, pet cameras often come with additional features designed with your pet in mind.
These features will range based on the device you select and might include specific tools that help you train your pet, prevent unwanted behavior and sometimes even interact with them from afar, doling out pet treats and sweet nothings. So, if you want to invest in a product with your furry family member in mind, go with a pet-specific camera.
What to Look for When Purchasing a Pet Camera
There are a few things you'll want to look for when purchasing a pet camera.
- Pet-specific features
- Tech capabilities
- Ease of Use
Think about your pets' individual needs and problem areas, and what features could help them while you're away. Look for those features specifically.
Also, consider a camera's tech capabilities. Will it allow for two-way communication? Does it live stream video, or just store it somewhere for you to access later? Does it record audio or only video? Which of these tech capabilities matter most to you?
When looking at quality, consider how high-quality the image and audio are — look for video reviews online that show you the camera's results. Likewise, what's the quality of the actual hardware? Is the camera flimsy? If your pet lunges at it the first time they hear your voice come across the speaker, will the camera withstand that type of action (and if they gnaw on a piece of it, will it prove a choking hazard)?
Do you need a pet camera that's exceptionally easy to set up and then use? Are you buying this camera for a family member who's maybe not that tech-savvy (like for grandma to check in on her cats while she's on vacation)? Consider who'll be using the pet camera the most and how easy it should be to set up and use.
Additionally, what kind of notifications, like motion alerts, do you want to receive, and is the camera you're considering even capable of sending notifications? Some cameras will send you a message, for example, if there's movement in your home, while others wait until they hear your dog barking before they alert you.
Of course, you have to consider price when making your decision. Don't only consider the cost of the hardware, though. Some pet cameras come with additional monthly fees, ranging from a few dollars to $50 or more, so you want to look at the entire cost.
Before You Decide on a Pet Cam…
While considering all the above, you also want to think of one crucial thing before deciding to use a pet camera: how anxious is your pet? For some pets, the use of cameras like these can be disturbing and anxiety-inducing, especially the audio features. Consider testing a pet cam to gauge your pet's comfort level.
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