It’s hard to be away from the ones you love. It’s especially hard when some of your loved ones are your furry, four-legged friends. Whether you’re going to work for the day or spending a week away on vacation, you worry about your pets getting lonely, getting into trouble, or even facing unexpected emergencies.
While many pet owners resort to hiring dog walkers, asking friends to check in, or even boarding pets in a kennel, these solutions are not ideal for every family. They can be expensive and even traumatic to the very pets you’re trying to protect. Thankfully, the latest smart home technology has completely changed the game for pet parents and their little friends. Here are some great smart options to consider.
1. Smart Security System
You’ll be hard-pressed to get more value out of an upgrade than you will from installing a security system with smart cameras. Whereas the security cameras of the past required extensive wiring, careful placement, and an array of expensive accessories and services, today’s WiFi-based smart cameras are affordable and painless to install – find them at the local hardware store or inquire about a full system from your internet service provider. Both battery-operated and wireless cameras are available, and most options feature an impressive range of features like high definition video, night vision, motion-activated recording, and full integration with your smartphone so you can access them remotely.
Best of all, these cameras are so flexible that you can put them in virtually any location around your home. This can be especially fun if you’re placing these cameras with your pets in mind. Place one in their favorite play spot, near a doggie bed, or even by a hamster or bird cage. You can use your phone to watch a lively string of updates of everything your pets have been up to during the day. Or, check in occasionally to see what your pet is doing in real time or whether the dog walker came as scheduled.
The best part of installing a smart camera is all of the household mysteries that they can solve. From where your dog lost his favorite toy, to which cat is responsible for tearing up a room, your family will be endlessly entertained by what happens when they’re away.
Of course, the added bonus is that a security system boosts the overall safety of your home for your entire family. With professional monitoring services, you’ll know that help is on the way when the alarm is triggered.
2. Outdoor Camera
If you’re adding a security system to your house, you may also consider adding a smart outdoor camera to your backyard. A lot of great outdoor cameras have hit the market over the last year, and many feature the same great motion-detection and night-vision technology as their indoor counterparts.
These cameras can send you a notification the second unusual motion is detected in certain parts of the yard. If Fido tends to be an escape artist, you can get peace of mind knowing that your camera system will alert you the moment he starts digging under the weakest part of the fence. You can call a neighbor for help right away, instead of coming home from work only to find evidence of the crime.
3. Motion Sensors
You may not want to cover every corner of your home with cameras, but motion sensors can be a valuable ally in keeping your pets safe.
A few strategically placed sensors above doggie doors are great for keeping a record of your pet’s schedule—they can alert you when Buster heads out for his morning visit to the yard and when he comes back in again for a snack. If you have an older pet, placing a sensor near a sleeping spot or feeding bowls can let you know that pets are eating while you’re out and help you keep an eye on their mobility during the day.
4. Smart Speakers
Every pet is different, but some seem to love having a TV on, and all like to hear from their family throughout the day. A smart speaker can be a fun way to keep your pets entertained, feeling loved and out of trouble. Two-way talk turns some smart cameras and voice-activated speakers into a remote-activated speakerphone that can let you stay in touch with your pets from afar.
If you have a pet that seems to love the radio or certain sounds, you can set up your favorite smart speaker to automatically play certain stations or background music the moment that motion is detected in a room. If you typically call your pet to eat, program some automated voice reminders that can remind them to go eat a snack or drink some water while you’re away. You can even comfort your animals during a thunderstorm, calm them down when a delivery person approaches, and even scold them if they found your secret stash of goodies in the pantry.
5. Smart Bowls and Water Triggers
Speaking of dinner time, keeping your pets fed while you’re away can be tricky. Most can’t be trusted with days’ worth of food left out, and some can plow through a snack or water supply in a surprisingly short amount of time. That’s where smart bowls come in.
Smart bowl can be programmed to release a specified amount of food during certain times of the day. Most can hold up to a week’s worth of your pets’ favorite food, and these smart bowls can be invaluable tools to keep your pets fed without worrying about them overeating.
For the most foolproof setup, place one of your smart cameras near your pet’s food bowls. Not only can you check in on them during chow time, but you can call for help if it looks like a smart bowl has malfunctioned or your pets have run out of food early.
6. Smart Thermostat
Whether it’s a blistering July or a freezing January, it’s always nerve-wracking to leave your pets at home during seasons of extreme temperatures. Smart thermostats, temperature sensors, and smart outlets can help.
If you’re going to be gone all day or out of town for a while, you probably want to set your thermostat to something more efficient while you’re away. The great thing about smart thermostats is that they can keep an eye on temperatures and automatically make some adjustments if ranges get out of a comfortable norm. You can also control them remotely from your phone.
Accessory temperature sensors and smart power outlet devices can help as well, especially if your pet makes its home outside or in a garage. The moment an extreme temperature is detected, a smart sensor can notify your smart home hub and trigger a smart power outlet to activate a fan or turn on a heat lamp. They can even automatically turn those devices off once temperatures reach a more comfortable level. It’s a great way to keep your pets comfortable and save some energy at the same time.
7. Water Sensors
As many of our furry friends are known to roam basements or other unusual spots, spontaneous flooding from freak storms or a busted pipe is frequently a concern in the back of pet owner’s minds. Smart water sensors can be a great preventative tool to keep your pets safe.
Much like motion and temperature sensors, a smart water sensor can detect a leak the moment moisture is detected, and if you pair it with a smart water valve, it can even shut the water off at its source (if the leak is pipe-related). Not only will this keep your pets safe and dry, but it can save your family the hassle, headache and expense of a water damage emergency.
Make Some Smart Upgrades and Keep Your Pets Connected
It doesn’t take much to stay connected with your family’s furriest members while you’re away. Spend some time researching the best smart products for your family, and make a few strategic upgrades that will bring peace of mind to you during workdays and even vacations. When all of these products are part of an integrated smart home security system, like one that may be offered from your local internet service provider, you can control everything with one mobile app from anywhere. You’ll have a blast keeping tabs on your pets’ secret lives, and your animals will feel more loved than ever before.
About the Author
Eric Murrell is a software developer and technology contributor to Xfinity Home. He enjoys sharing tips on how people can benefit from incorporating smart-home automation and security in their homes on his blog, At Home in the Future.