The Ultimate Consumer Guide to Pet Technology

What is this Hot New Technology Category and why should you care?

Pettech pet technology

If you are a tech-loving pet owner, you might have started noticing the terms ‘pettech’ and ‘pet technology’ show up in your favorite blogs and websites. What exactly is pettech and why should you care?

Technology has become an integral part of our lives and we tend to depend on technology in almost everything we do. Therefore, it’s just natural that we would want to leverage technology in the way we take care of our pets.

PetTech is a term that was previously used only by geeky technologists and venture capitalists. Now, pet technology is moving mainstream. Here, we’ve captured a roundup of everything you need to know about this hot new category.

But, first things first…

What Is Pettech?

Broadly, ‘pettech’ is an umbrella term for the category of pet technology products and services designed to help you achieve better health and wellbeing for your pets. Whether it is doggytech, kittytech, bunnytech, or birdytech, pet owners like us are drawn to this new category called pettech.

The consumer side of pet technology includes everything from mobile pet apps, to pet e-commerce, to pet gadgets and online pet services.

On the business-to-business side, pettech includes pet software platforms, technology hardware and veterinary equipment.

Both consumer and business sides of pet technology are using data to help inform pet owners and veterinarians what happening with their pets. Pet toys are using artificial intelligence to create more realistic play experiences. Online pet services are sprouting up that let you share your pet’s daily activities and feeding habits with your vet.

“Dog whispering” and “cat whispering” used to be something only the most skilled pet behavioralist could claim. Now, even if you don’t speak fluent cat, you can track your pet’s health through its litterbox habits. If you’re not a vet professional, you may still even be able to tell your dog isn’t feeling well by observing his activity tracker or heart rate monitor.

“The phenomenon of pet tech is partially driven by the trend toward the humanization of pets,” says former pet health publicist Joseph Hassan. You could say that pettech is any technology that makes pet ownership easier, more efficient, and even more fun.

Why is Pet Technology so hot?

In the US, 68% of us live in a household with a pet. That represents a whopping 84.6 million households. Whereas previously Baby Boomers accounted for the largest segments of dog, cat and bird owners, Millennials have supplanted Baby Boomers as the largest group of owners of these pets.

According to the American Pet Products Association, we spent $69.51 billion on our pets in 2017 in the United States alone and the global market is estimated at $109 billion. That’s mindboggling, right?

“Talk to any pet owner and they’ll tell you how difficult it is to put a dollar limit on what they’d spend to give their loyal companion a happy life, and it’s this outlook that continues to drive growth.”

Bob Vetere, Presideint and CEO American Pet Products Association (source)

All this money we have been spending on our precious pets has attracted attention. The fact that the pet owners are passionate about caring for their pets and eager to spend money combined with the digital native generation now leading pet ownership has attracted lots of tech companies, big and small.

The innovators know that if it’s new, different and promises to improve our pet’s life, we’ll try it out.

What types of companies are developing PetTech for consumers?

There are many different types companies that are pursing innovations in pet technology to help us take care of our cutie pies.

Many new startup companies are sprouting up that use tech-enabled solutions to take care of the problems regarding pets. But pettech is also a category that has captured the attention of major pet brands. For example, Hills, Nestle’s Purina and Mars’ Petcare have all recently acquired pettech brands. In addition, major pet retailers like Petco are also getting in on the game.

Some categories that used to be viewed with skepticism, such as pet nutraceuticals and supplements for the animal health industry, can now be proven scientifically.

Finally, the veterinary profession is starting to embrace pettech innovations in their medical practices. Besides research that vet equipment companies are conducting, Veterinarians themselves are starting to recommend ways pet owners can use technology to assist with pet care needs.

We can expect to see more and more opportunities to use pettech to improve our pets lives.

What are the Pet Technology Categories?

We love our pets, and for this love, we tend to come up with a variety of ideas and methods to keep them happy and entertained. While the industry pundits may categorize pettech by technical production needs, here at Barkytech we approach pet technology from the consumer point of view.

We see these new consumer pettech products and services as fitting into four different categories.

  • Home pet health care – Products/services that help us monitor and support our pets’ health and be better care givers and better partners to our pets’ veterinarian.
  • Pet owner convenience – Products/services that make it easier for us perform daily care duties.
  • Communication and entertainment – Products that entertain and engage both our pets and ourselves.
  • Pet safety – Products that help us keep our pets out of harm’s way both inside and outside the home

These categories are different than the ones sometimes discussed by big news publishers and industry pundits. Why? Because we are looking at it from a pet owner point of view!  That means we’re focused on how pettech can be useful to you, the pet owner.

Sure, we are tech lovers and sometimes enjoy pondering what’s under the hood of these devices and services. But let’s be honest, we really want to know is, “What does this thing do for Spot, Fluffy and me?”

Pet Healthcare at Home

The first consumer pet technology category is home-based pet healthcare. This includes currently can be divided into 4 subcategories: Pet DNA tests, Other at home pet health tests, Pet activity trackers/pet heart-rate monitors and pet calming products.

Pet DNA tests

There are only a few companies doing Pet DNA tests currently but this category is poised to expand. Companies like Wisdom Panel and Embark can tell you if your dog is a mix or pure breed. Pet DNA tests are very popular for owners who have adopted a pet and want to search for breed tips about how to care for their dog.

As more owners get their pets tested, the databases will expand and the results of these tests will become more reliable. And, unlike human DNA testing, the privacy risks created by testing your doggy’s DNA test are low. Well, the risk is low unless he’s a badly behaved criminally-inclined little mutt. In that case, maybe you’ll want to be cautious? Just kidding!

At home pet health tests

With pet tech, checking the health status of your pets has also become very easy. This category includes blood tests like glucose tests as well as urine tests.

One of the examples is CheckUp Kit which can detect the most common issues and activity patterns of your pet including high glucose levels, kidney failure, urinary tract infection, blood in urine, etc. The kit includes a telescopic pole, detachable metal ring, disposable cup, identical testing strips, sample collection vial a5nd5 a sample collecting pipette.

Pet activity trackers/ pet heart-rate monitors

An example of this category is the PetPace Smart Health Monitoring Collar. It is a wireless collar which detects your pet’s different behavior patterns. Pet activity monitor gadgets can actually track and gather information including the heart rate of your pet and figure out exactly how much exercise your pet requires and what needs to be added to his diet.

With pet wearables, the smart collars usually collect the data and transmit it to your phone. The mobile apps connect then interacts with the company’s database. Due to their size, pet wearables are usually considered doggytech, but as these devices get smaller, we can expect more people to start using them more frequently with their cats, too.

Some smart pet wearables can even tell you about how much food to give your pet, how long your pet takes to consume his dinner, how much he is eating and how often.

The most important thing these pet wearable devices can do is to ping you when they detect your pet to have some kind of abnormal behavioral patterns and suggest your pet might need to visit the vet.

Smart Pet Beds

Sleep has always been one of the best, important and happiest moment of anyone’s life, be it humans or animals. We like tracking our own sleep so why not track our pet’s sleep?

While this initially may seem silly, there are many reasons why a smart pet bed is a good idea. Smart beds can be temperature-controlled for your pet’s comfort. With smart pet beds that are connected to other pettech devices, the bed can even respond to your pet’s needs. For example, Petrics appears to be developing a smart pet beds that can cool down when your pet has had a particularly active afternoon.

With a smart pet bed, you can also track changes in your pet’s weight or it’s behavior. Like activity trackers or smart litter boxes, a smart pet bed can provide an important early indicator of the health needs of your pet.

Convenience Pettech

The area where there have been a lot of developments in pet technology is convenience. We love our pets but modern life doesn’t always make it easy to care for our pets. Long work hours, travel and apartment living can make caring for a pet difficult. Products and services in this category include automatic pet feeders, self-cleaning litter boxes,

Automatic pet feeders

Pets aren’t able to go into the kitchen and fix themselves dinner. Early version of automatic pet feeders were simple dry food dispensers on a timer. These days, smart connected technology has made it possible to extend your pet’s health with a wet food dispensers and more complex feeding systems.

It’s also impossible to explain to a pet why their animal friend can have one type of food but they must eat another. Microchip based feeders open only when a particular pet approaches the dish.

Some mobile applications can even track food consumption and send you food automatically when they detect you to be almost out of stock

Electronic pet feeders and electronic pet water fountains is a crowded category with brands such as PetKit, PetDiary, Petnet, PetSafe, Waz, and many others developing pet feeding gadgets you can try.

Automatic litter boxes

The most popular kittytech product is automatic litter boxes. When you keep a pet in your home, maintaining proper hygiene can be hassle. For many owners, it’s not just the daily cleaning that is inconvenient, but the idea that your cat’s box may stay dirty all day long while you are at work.

One of the most well-known brands in this category is the Litter-Robot, which is an automatic self-cleaning litter box which separates waste from clean litter. With a few years development under their belt, Litter-Robot is now adding sensors to track your cat’s health and a connected mobile app.

Online pet service booking services

For business trips and those days you can’t get home from work at lunch to walk the dog, you need a reliable pet sitter. We used to have to make phone calls and send emails to research and set up these services. Now, it’s easy and convenient to book services online or from an app.

For pet sitters, kennels and pet groomers, there are many services to help them run their business, such as Pawfinity, Picktime, and Setmore. In these cases, your pet service provider will do the work to find and set up the software.

But, if you’re a consumer and need to find a pet service provider, there are services like the popular apps Wag and Rover.

E-Commerce

The final big area of the convenience category is pet supplies e-commerce. Whether you are a Chewy loyalist or prefer PetFlow, online pet retail is big business.

Beyond the big brands, there are also many small entrants cultivating curated collections, such as hauspanther. In the food category especially, many brands are skipping the retailers and offering their products direct to consumers via subscription services.

Pet subscription boxes is another popular e-commerce category. These digital pet services let us try out cool new pet products in a fun monthly surprise package.

Pet Communication and Pet Entertainment

Just like with human consumer electronics, entertainment is a large category for pettech. After all, the reason we get pets is for that loving interaction they can provide. We’re constantly seeking ways to stay connected, whether that is with pet cameras, smart toys, or pet social media (yes – that’s a thing!).

Pet cameras

When we go off to work or to the shops, it’s not always be possible to be with your pet and keep an eye on them. Pet cameras are becoming immensely popular. Camera technology developed for home security reasons has quickly been adapted for pets.

While it may not be acceptable into inconspicuously peek in on your spouse, it’s perfectly ok to spy on your pets during the day. And, nothing is more fun than a few minutes of interaction with your pet in the middle of a tough day.

Pet cameras like the Furbo, Pawbo, PetChatz, Petcube, Petzi and Lovoom are just a small sampling of the devices in the crowded pet camera category. Devices not only provide a view into the home, but offer everything from motion alerts, two-way communication, treat dispensers and attached laser toys.

Smart pet toys

As we all know, playtime activities are very much important for us to stay a healthy life. Well, the same goes for animals. When we can’t be home to keep our pets stimulated and entertained, there are many different gadgets to keep your pet entertained.

This area seems to attract a lot of startup companies and we understand why. What could be more fun than spending all day thinking up clever ways to entertain a dog or cat?

Some of the many examples of smart pet toys include PupPod, the Pebby dog ball and the Playdot! Cat Laser Toy. Be sure to check out our round up of the Best Interactive Dog Toys.

Videos and Apps for Animals

Pet owners have long understood that their pets can watch screens just like people can. Dog owners frequently leave the TV on to keep their dogs company. This has spawned a whole category of videos made specifically for dogs, cats and other pets.  Mobile apps designed to attract cats are also popular, although we can’t guarantee that they will distract your cat from chasing your curser across your computer screen.

Social Media for Pets

Dogs are social creatures and it’s not always easy to find a good playdate for our dogs.  Pet owners can use Dogster and Catster as a way to meet and interact with other owners. Other apps in this space include Matchpuppy, Bauwow! and Meet My Dog. Wonderwoof is a connected dog collar that tells you how much your dog is interacting with particular doggie friends.

For the pet who already has a social following on the regular human social networks, there are companies such as The Dog Agency and My Pet Agency that specialize in helping pet influencers monetize their fame.

Considering the huge number Twitter and Instagram profiles set ups for  of dogs, cats, birds, bunnies, horses, reptiles, hamsters and more, we’re surprised there aren’t even more brands in this space.

Pettech Fashion

Our sisterbrand Allietech may be the experts on fashiontech but pet fashion is a big business. What’s the mashup of pettech and fashiontech? Why it’s petfashiontech! Since dog clothing is big business, we can expect some of the same wearable tech fashion that we’re starting to see show up for humans to start showing up for pets. One example of this is the Disco Dog vest.

Safety Pet Technology

Technology-enabled pet safety is another area where modern connected technology has solved a long-term pet care problem. Our crowded modern cities are not always great environments for animals, but pet technology products focused on safety can make it easier for us all to coexist together.

Pet location trackers

What began with microchipping pets to serve as an identification tool has developed into a full-fledged location-tracking industry. Pet owners, and dog owners especially, want to keep tabs on the location of their pet.

An example is the popular Whistle dog collar tracker. It can be attached to the collar of your pet to collect location and movement data and transmit that to the phone app. A custom safe zone can also be set through this device which will let you know whenever your pet leaves your yard.

Most dogs don’t have their own cell phones – yet – but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep tabs on their activities to make sure they aren’t getting into trouble. While dog collar GPS collars are the most common device used, there’s also a growing trend to mount cameras on dogs. For example, check out the Kurgo Dog Harness with Camera Mount.

Dog Training Collars

Electronic collars designed as training aids have been around for a while. These devices use sonic sound, mild shocks and other techniques to let you communicate with your dog when he engages in behavior that is not allowed. The best devices are being updated and modernized and the old fashioned shock-based dog training collar will hopefully soon become a thing of the past.

Connected pet doors

For the owner who wants their pet to be able to use the yard when they are out, pet doors are an imperative. Smart pet doors give your pets a secure way to access the outside while preventing other animals (or people!) from entering the house.

PetSafe and Sureflap are examples of this category.

Electronic Pet Fences

Electronic pet fences is a category designed to keep your pet in a safe and secure environment. These invisible fences use digital radio frequencies which are broadcast by a control panel to designate a contained safe area for your pet. A signal field typically is created with an insulated cable buried underground or set of devices placed around the perimeter of your yard.

When your pet moves out of the protected area, the computer collar receiver on your pet’s collar automatically detects it and issues a signal (sonic pulse, small shock, or sound) to your pet reminding them to stay within their area.

Some examples in the electronic pet fence category include YardMax, SportDog, and Innotek.

Pet calming products

Pet anxiety is a big problem for busy pet owners. Modern life is not always a great environment for our pets. They don’t understand why we need to go to work and noises and smells can be confusing. There is an entire category of scientific developments to calm pets.

This includes pheromone-based products and audio-based products. There are also a lot of gadgets to calm your pets. For example, the iCalm Pet and Pet Acoustics are gadgets which can soothe your pets with beautiful music. Feliway has cornered the market on cat calming pheromones and ThunderShirt is a popular calming pet wearable.

The Future: What’s next in Pet Technology?

The pettech industry is still a long way from reaching maturity. That’s great news for us as pet owners because it means that lots of cool and helpful new pet technologies should be coming out in the next few years.

What new pettech products and services can we expect in the future?

Most pettech developments follow developments in human-human technologies. The launch of human activity trackers was quickly followed by the launch of dog activity trackers. Smart home cameras were quickly customized into pet cameras with treat dispensers and other pet-specific functionality.

So, if you want to know what’s next in pettech, just look to “humantech.” Some things Barkytech is predicting to see over the coming years are:

  • Ancestral databases for your pet
  • Facial recognition control for pet doors and electronic feeders
  • Amaller robotic toys that will work for cats
  • Personalized (or is that animal-alized?) diets and food
  • Smaller pet wearables that can monitor more health factors plus just-for-fun pet fashiontech
  • Advanced solutions for litter and dog-poop
  • More audio-based and sound devices
  • Specialty devices specifically designed for birds, hamsters, and other small mammals
  • Cloning and DNA-altering (yup, this is controversial but it’s probably coming)

The way smart technology is growing, we can expect a lot of new innovations to help us improve our pet’s lives. As the category develops, we’ll try to keep this page updated. Drop our editor a line if you think we’ve missed any important categories.

The future of pettech looks loving, fun and engaging. We can’t wait.

3 COMMENTS

    • Hi Angela – We use a team of freelance writers and do accept guest posts about pet technology. To be considered for publication please reach out to [email protected] and let us know the topic you propose to write. We also do reviews of pet technology products. To have a product considered for review, please also contact our editor. For product and service reviews, we need a review sample of the product (review access to your service) as well as your press kit/press materials.

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