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What is the Best Pet Camera? – Here’s our essential guide

We all have to leave our precious fur-kids at home alone from time to time. We worry about what they'll get up to when we are gone and whether they'll get lonely.

Photo of Dog Camera

A pet camera may seem like an ideal solution to help you keep a close eye on your pet and home while you are away.

Do I need a pet camera?

The top pet cameras don't come cheap, ringing in at around the $200 mark, so you may well be asking yourself, ‘is a pet camera worth that kind of money'?

We've put together a list of all the main benefits of having a pet camera set up in your home so you can decide if it's something you genuinely need.

Are pet cameras worth it? Three key benefits of having a pet camera

1) Early detection of emergencies

The primary benefit of having a pet camera up and running is the peace of mind you'll have knowing that you will be able to detect an emergency in your home and take quick action.

Have a look online, and you'll see hundreds of stories where a pet camera notification has saved a dog's life.

After all, our fur-kids can't just run out of the house if they sense danger like a fire.

Being able to monitor remotely what's going on in your home is a real plus for any pet parent.

Pet cameras come with various features that can help give you an early heads up that something is wrong.

Bark detection notifications have helped many owners realize that an alarm is going off in the house and allow them to rush home or call for help.

Some cameras (the Furbo, for instance) now also recognize smoke, and CO alarm sounds too, and notify you when they go off.

Some cameras use their motion detectors to start auto-recording video clips of your dog when he is up to mischief.

You'll get an alert and be able to spot if he's raiding a food cupboard he shouldn't and eating a box of chocolates.

Taking swift action if, say, your dog is choking on a piece of toy might make the difference between life and death.

2 Detection of problem behaviors or health issues

Many pet cameras include motion or sound detectors that will trigger a recording.

Having access to clips of your dog's activity from across a whole day can give you some profound insight into your pet's current health and state of mind.

You'll be able to spot indicators of an underlying health problem. For example, regular scratching or licking of a specific area could be a sign of an allergy to fleas.

You can also monitor your dog for any signs of mental stress and anxiety.

Separation anxiety may manifest in excessive barking, panting, licking, or destructive behavior in the home.

With a camera, you can keep an eye on how your dog is doing and take action if needed.

Thanks to the two-way voice communication in many pet cameras, you can also use your device to help alleviate separation anxiety even while you are not at home.

Say hello to your pup and toss him a treato to distract your dog and cheer him up!

3 Spy on your pet (and record his cutest moments!)

A more fun benefit of having a pet camera is that you'll get to see all the adorable stuff your pup gets up to when home alone! Or maybe all the naughty stuff he gets up too (like this guy).

Motion detection allows a camera to start recording a clip whenever your pup gets up to mischief. See just how much time your fur-kid spends sprawling all over your pillow or where he hides those darn socks you keep losing all the time!

Some pet cameras let you save all your video clips on the cloud and share them with friends and family on social media.

Why a pet camera should not replace human contact

It's important to remember that no pet camera can ever replace one-on-one quality time spent with your pet in person. Don't think of it as an excuse to leave your pet for many hours on his own.

Most rescues and shelters recommend not leaving a dog on its own for more than a few hours each day. Exactly how long you leave them depends on your pup's unique personality and their toileting needs.

Some dogs are super chilled when left solo, but others get very anxious.

A pet camera can help you check in on your pup and alleviate the boredom a little when you are away, but if you are going to be gone more than a few hours, you'll need to get a friend or dog sitter to pop by.

How do pet cameras work?

To get the best performance out of your pet camera, it will need to connect to excellent WiFi. If your WiFi goes down, you won't be able to check in on your pet.

Also, you will need to own a smartphone (iPhone or Android) with all the latest updates downloaded.

Photo of Pokemon Pikachu Dog Selfie Preview

Most pet cameras will also ask you to download their app, through which you can view the video feed from your home and perform actions remotely (dispense treats, or say hi to your pup).

Are pet cameras safe? Can they be hacked?

A key question most people ask when about to set up a video camera right in the middle of their private home is, ‘can my camera get hacked?'

It's worth doing some research on this before purchasing any kind of pet or security camera because the levels of security can vary.

Furbo, for instance, offers 2048-bit RSA private keys, which is about the same encryption level as an average bank.

Cheaper pet cameras may not offer as much protection, however.

What features should you look for in a good quality pet camera?

HD VIDEO

Pretty obvious, but it'll be so much easier to see what's going on in full HD quality video.

If you go for a cheaper option, you may regret it. Crystal clear HD video clips will also be much more suitable for wowing your friends and family with your dog's cute antics.

Look for a minimum of 1080p full HD. A wide-angle is also vital if you want to be able to watch your dog in more than one small corner of the room.

2-WAY AUDIO

This feature is really helpful for checking in on dogs who are getting stressed out home alone and would benefit from hearing a kind word from their pet parent.

A high-quality microphone and speaker will help ensure that your pet hears you clearly and that you can hear barking from other parts of the house.

TREAT DISPENSER

A feature that distinguishes dog cameras from many other home security cameras is an inbuilt treat dispenser. Dogs love having tasty treatos flung at them by their little robot buddy!

Cameras vary in terms of how big the treat reservoir is and how many treats fly out at once. Some cameras can be set up to dispense treats automatically, as well as on-demand via the camera app.

MOTION AND SOUND DETECTION

Motion and sound detectors are vital features to look for if you want to capture your dog's behavior or goings-on. After all, you can't sit watching the feed every second you are not at home.

Sensing motion or sound (i.e., barking) will trigger the camera to record a clip that you can watch later.

You may want to collect cute clips of your dog splooting, or maybe you just want to be alerted if there is an intruder in your home.

NIGHT VISION

If you leave your dog alone in the evenings, then automatic infrared night vision might be a vital feature for you.

No dog should be left alone for a whole night, however.

COST

The popular pet cameras will cost you around the $200 mark. As well as this, you have to consider the cost of a subscription.

Popular pet cams like Furbo and PetCube offer a separate service that includes more premium features (storing videos on the cloud, preparing a daily diary of cute clips to view each day, or more specialized safety alerts).

It's up to you if you think it's worth paying an extra few dollars a month for these benefits.

Our recommended pet cameras

Furbo Dog Camera

The Furbo camera has covered every angle in terms of monitoring and interacting with your pet. The video quality is excellent with a 1080p camera, a 160D wide-angle lens, and 4 x digital zoom.

Sound options are also superb, with a high-quality mic and speaker for two-way conversations with your pup.

The camera will detect your dog's bark and send you a push notification so you can check what's going on straight away.

The treat reservoir can hold up to 100 pieces, and you can trigger it remotely.

You can ask your Furbo to play a ‘clicker' noise as a treat flies out, so you can reward and positively reinforce good behavior remotely!

Furbo is Alexa compatible, which means you can ask her to perform a host of different skills from your smartphone Alexa app.

Ask her to show you the video feed, toss your dog a treat, or even set up a treat tossing schedule each day.

For Furbos more premium features, you'll need to sign up for Furbo Dog Nanny, which costs $6.99 a month (or $69.00 per year).

The main benefit is that all your dog's cute video clips (captured thanks to the motion detector) will be uploaded to the cloud and prepared for you in a daily dog diary.

Another feature of the Furbo Dog Nanny plan is emergency alerts.

You'll be alerted when the Furbo detects a smoke or CO alarm going off in your home.

It's a fab feature, but it seems a little unfair to make this subscription-only.

Furbo Summary:

Furbo is a stylish pet camera with top quality video and sound, protected by bank-grade security encryption. Through the app, you can speak to your pet remotely or toss him a treat.

You will also receive notifications when your dog barks, so you can quickly check for any issues at home. You will need a Furbo Dog Nanny subscription to access premium features like capturing and storing cute video clips during the day.

Buy Furbo Pet Camera on Amazon.

PetCube Bites 2

Billed as ‘Your pet's all-in-one smartphone and robotic nanny,' PetCube Bites 2 has a ton of great features.

The camera itself is 1080p full HD and offers a wide-angle 160° view of your home.

The stored data is secured by 256bit AES encryption, which, although not the highest level of protection available, is still substantial.

The camera lets you know if your dog is barking, so you can quickly check-in to see if there is a problem in your home.

The two-way audio is in full-duplex sound, and the camera has a four-microphone array and speaker bar inside.

According to PetCube, it sounds ‘as if you're on your phone.'

PetCube Bites 2 comes with a built-in Alexa, meaning it has all 80,000 Alexa skills available.

You can ask Alexa (nicely, of course!) to order more treats, play music for your dog, and a whole lot more.

The camera's treat dispenser is a great size and can fit up to 1.5lbs of treats. Treats can be up to an inch in size (a spherical shape is best).

You can trigger the treats manually via the app, or you can set them to reward your pup at random during the day to break up the boredom of being home alone.

Ideal if you are going to be stuck in a long meeting at work and can't check in as often as you would like.

Like the Furbo camera, the best features come only with a subscription to an app that starts at $3.99 a month. The premium service is called ‘Pet Cube Care.'

The camera's motion and sound detectors will ensure that anytime your dog is not napping, it'll get recorded as video clips so that you won't miss any funny moments.

Pet Cube Care also knows how to distinguish between pets and people moving in your house and will alert you to the presence of an intruder.

PetCube Bites 2 Summary:

PetCube Bites 2 has top of the range video and sound quality. It allows you to monitor your dog, interact with him, and throw him a treat if he's being a good boy.

Subscription to Pet Cube Care will allow you to see all video clips of any activity that day (cute, funny, or naughty!) and save them on the cloud.

Buy PetCube Bites 2 on Amazon.

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