Having a pet go missing is one of the most stressful and heartbreaking experiences for any pet owner. That’s why GPS trackers for pets have become so popular in recent years.
With the right GPS tracker, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you can locate your furry friend if they ever wander off or go missing.In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to find the best GPS tracker for your cat or dog.
What Are GPS Pet Trackers and How Do They Work?
A GPS pet tracker is a small device that attaches to your pet’s collar to track their location in real-time. Most models use a combination of GPS, cellular data, and WiFi to pinpoint your pet’s whereabouts and transmit the location back to your smartphone.Here’s a quick overview of how they work:
- The tracker connects to GPS satellites to identify your pet’s coordinates.
- Cellular data (from a built-in SIM card) transmits the GPS data to the tracker company’s servers.
- The tracker company’s app on your phone pulls the location data from their servers via the internet.
- The app displays your pet’s location on a map on your phone.
Some trackers also use Bluetooth and WiFi to help transmit data when available. WiFi extends the tracker’s range when your pet is at home. Bluetooth allows trackers to harness the crowdsourcing capability of other devices (more on this later).When paired with a smartphone app, GPS pet trackers allow you to:
- See your pet’s location on a map in real-time
- Monitor your pet’s daily activity and routes walked
- Create virtual fences and get alerts when your pet leaves a designated area
- Activate lost pet mode to track your pet when missing
- Access location history to see where your pet has been
- Receive alerts if your pet’s tracker battery is low
Key Benefits of GPS Pet Trackers
There are many benefits to using a GPS pet tracker for cats and dogs. Here are some of the top reasons to consider one for your furry friend:
Quickly Locate Lost Pets
The #1 benefit of a GPS tracker is being able to find your pet quickly if they go missing. Instead of wandering the streets hoping to spot them, you can remotely view their location from your smartphone and go right to them. This greatly increases the chances of finding a lost pet.
Peace of Mind
Simply knowing you have the ability to locate your pet anywhere gives pet parents great peace of mind. You can check on their location anytime to make sure they are safe.
Track Daily Activity
In addition to tracking location, most GPS pet trackers monitor daily activity. You can make sure your pet is getting enough exercise and view routes walked or traveled.
Geofences and Location Alerts
With geofencing capabilities, you can designate specific areas on the map where your pet should stay. If they wander outside a geofenced area, you’ll receive a real-time alert. This allows you to keep your pet safely in your yard or any defined zone.
Battery Status Notifications
Running out of battery is a huge pain point for electronics. GPS pet trackers take away this worry by sending you notifications when the battery gets low so you can recharge in time.
Some trackers use crowdsourced community tracking by harnessing Bluetooth connections with nearby smartphones. This provides extended range in urban areas when GPS alone can’t pinpoint a location.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a GPS Pet Tracker
There are several key factors to weigh when picking the right GPS tracker for your beloved cat or dog. Consider the following:
Type of Pet
Is it for a cat, small dog, or large dog? The tracker size and weight should be suited for your pet to wear comfortably. Make sure to check size ranges and weight recommendations.
Do you let your pet roam freely outdoors or are they only out on a leash? For free-roaming pets, real-time tracking is essential. For leashed pets, a crowdsourced tracker could suffice in populated areas.
Consider your needs for creating safe zones and receiving alerts when your pet leaves designated areas. This is especially useful for pets with outdoor access.
Look for the longest battery life possible to avoid frequent charging. Batteries that last 1-2 weeks or more are ideal. Quick-charging capabilities are also useful.
GPS tracking range can vary substantially by device. Maximum ranges span from a couple hundred feet for Bluetooth-only trackers to unlimited distances for trackers that use cellular data.
Related to range, look at the tracking accuracy of each device. Can it pinpoint your pet’s location within a few feet? Accuracy is critical for narrowing down your pet’s whereabouts.
If your pet will be out in the elements, you want a tracker with strong water resistance and an IPX7 or IPX8 rating. This allows submersion in water.
Two costs are involved: the upfront tracker cost and ongoing subscription fees. Compare options to find the optimal balance for your budget.By evaluating these key factors, you can zero in on the best GPS pet tracker for your unique needs.
7 Best GPS Pet Trackers of 2024
Based on extensive research and testing, we’ve identified the top 7 GPS pet trackers available today. Here are the best picks for cats and dogs:
|Fi Smart Dog Collar
|Overall Best GPS Pet Tracker
|Real-time tracking, activity monitoring, up to 3 month battery, unlimited range, geofencing
|Whistle GO Explore
|Best Health Tracker & Alerts
|Real-time GPS, tracks health and behaviors, 20 day battery
|Tractive GPS Pet Tracker
|Best Budget Tracker
|Live location tracking, 5-7 day battery, geofencing
|Best No-Subscription Tracker
|No fees, 1 mile range, crowdsourcing expands range
|Jiobit Smart Tag
|Best Small Pet Tracker
|Compact and lightweight, water resistant, up to 30 day battery life
|Pawscout Smart Tag
|Best Crowdsourced Tracker
|Low cost, iOS/Android app, virtual fences
|Garmin Astro 430/T 5
|Best Rugged Tracker for Outdoors
|Durable design, 10 mile range, preloaded US/Canada maps
Now let’s look at an in-depth review of each tracker.
Fi Smart Dog Collar
Best For: Pet owners wanting an all-in-one GPS, health, and activity tracking collar.
The Fi Smart Dog Collar is our choice as the best GPS pet tracker overall because it combines real-time tracking with detailed activity and fitness monitoring.
- Uses LTE-M cellular data for unlimited range tracking with no dead zones.
- Up to 3 month battery life from one 2 hour charge. Quick-charging capabilities.
- Creates geofences and tracks your pet’s routes and daily activities.
- Measures distance traveled, calories burned, and sleep patterns.
- Rugged, waterproof construction.
- Sleek collar comes in multiple sizes and colors.
- App provides real-time location info and activity metrics.
We also love how lightweight and durable this tracker is. It attaches solidly to your pet’s collar without adding much bulk. The long-lasting battery means you can set it and forget it for months at a time.
The Fi collar earns top marks from pet parents as well. With over 1,700 reviews on Amazon, it maintains a 4.5/5 star rating. Owners praise its tracking accuracy, reliability, and durability.
Extra features like sleep monitoring provide added value. The mobile app provides detailed stats while being user-friendly. Overall, the Fi Smart Dog Collar hits the sweet spot as the best overall GPS pet tracker available today.
Cost: $149 for collar. $99 per year for LTE-M data plan.Shop Fi Smart Dog Collar on Amazon
Whistle GO Explore
Best For: Pet owners wanting health alerts about their pet throughout the day.
The Whistle GO Explore is another top GPS pet tracker thanks to its combination of real-time location tracking and advanced health monitoring capabilities.
- Uses both GPS and cellular data for precise location info.
- Sends health alerts based on changes in your pet’s daily patterns and behaviors.
- Tracks essential data like sleep, exercise, scratching, itchiness, and licking.
- Monitors major health indicators to notify you of potential issues.
- 20 day battery life with quick charging capabilities.
- Rugged and waterproof construction.
- Weighs less than 1 ounce for pets 5lb and up.
- Lost pet mode with location updates every 15 seconds.
Whistle GO stands out with its health tracking metrics and alerts. The app sends notifications if your pet’s data shows deviations in normal behavior patterns. This allows you to stay on top of potential health issues and consult your vet at the first sign of trouble.
It’s also packed with features in a compact size. For real-time GPS location tracking combined with advanced health insights, Whistle GO Explore is a top choice.
Cost: $129 for the tracker. $9.95 per month for cellular data plan.Shop Whistle GO Explore on Amazon
Tractive GPS Pet Tracker
Best For: Pet owners seeking an affordable real-time GPS tracker.Tractive GPS Pet TrackerTractive GPS pet trackers provide live location tracking at highly affordable price points. It’s a great budget-friendly option.
- Uses both GPS and cellular data for live location tracking.
- Updates your pet’s location every 2-3 seconds when in Track mode.
- 7 day battery life on one 2 hour charge.
- Allows creating virtual fences and tracking routes.
- Fully waterproof and works worldwide.
- Weighs just 1.2 ounces and designed for pets 5lbs and up.
- Lost pet mode with tracking every 2-3 seconds.
The real-time tracking sets Tractive apart from competitors. With location updates every few seconds, you’ll know your pet’s whereabouts the moment they leave a safe zone. No lag time like some slower updating trackers.
It also outperforms in water resistance. The Tractive survived submersion in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes in our tests.
While packed with premium features, Tractive maintains a very reasonable price point. For accurate, live GPS tracking on a budget, Tractive hits the mark.
Cost: $49.99 for tracker. $6.99 monthly for LTE-M data plan.Shop Tractive GPS Pet Tracker on Amazon
Findster Duo+ Pet Tracker
Best For: Pet owners wanting no monthly fees and crowdsourced community tracking.
The Findster Duo+ Pet tracker stands out for providing GPS-based tracking with no ongoing subscription fees required. It’s a nice value.
- Leverages patented radio frequencies instead of cellular data for tracking. No data fees!
- 1 mile range, expands to unlimited with crowdsourced community tracking.
- iOS/Android app maps your pet’s location and tracks movement.
- Creates virtual fences and monitors activity.
- 3-5 day battery life. Recharges in 2 hours.
- IP67 water resistant rating.
- Small and lightweight for pets over 10 pounds.
With no monthly fees, the Findster Duo+ delivers solid GPS tracking capabilities. The 1 mile range covers most common needs, and expands virtually everywhere with crowdsourced help from other users.
We like Findster for avoiding subscriptions while providing accurate, real-time directional insights. It’s a smart pick if you walk your pet on leash and want insurance if they ever slip away.
Cost: $149.99 for tracker and receiver. No monthly fees required.Shop Findster Duo+ Pet Tracker on Amazon
Jiobit Smart Tag
Best For: Pet owners needing a lightweight, compact tracker for small pets.
The Jiobit Smart Tag stands out as the smallest and lightest GPS pet tracker available. It’s perfect for cats, small dogs, and other pets.
- Extremely compact at just over 1 inch in diameter.
- Lightweight at only 0.63oz for comfort on small pets.
- Attaches securely to collars and harnesses with no dangling.
- Waterproof and rugged enough for daily wear.
- Uses Bluetooth, WiFi, and cellular for tracking.
- Up to 30 day battery life on one charge.
- Creates geofences and tracks location history.
- App shows real-time location on an easy-to-use map.
Jiobit shines in its tiny, lightweight design. Small pets won’t even notice wearing it. The 30 day battery life also means you can set it and forget it for an entire month without charging.
Despite its diminutive size, Jiobit doesn’t compromise on features. The advanced tracking technologies ensure you can monitor your pet’s location both at home and when out exploring.
For cat owners and small dog breeds, Jiobit Smart Tag is the top pick for a barely-there tracker.
Cost: $129 for 1 tracker. $99 per year for data plan.Shop Jiobit Smart Tag on Amazon
Pawscout Smart Tag
Best For: Urban pet owners wanting a low-cost crowdsourced tracker.
The Pawscout Smart Tag provides an affordable Bluetooth-based tracking option. It leverages crowdsourcing to extend range.
- Leverages Bluetooth connectivity and crowdsourcing. No GPS.
- iOS/Android app syncs with Pawscout community.
- Creates virtual fences for alerts when your pet wanders.
- Rugged, waterproof silicone tag attaches to collars.
- LED lights help locate your pet when nearby.
- Tap remote tag button to trigger audio on phone.
- Replaceable battery rated for up to 6 months.
- No cellular plan required.
While lacking advanced GPS capabilities, Pawscout provides basic tracking via Bluetooth and crowdsourcing. When connected to the Pawscout community through the app, you can receive location updates when your pet comes within 300 feet of another user.
For urban areas or highly populated locales, it offers a budget way to get basic tracking. The tap-to-trigger sounds also help find a nearby roaming pet.
Just be aware of its limitations compared to full GPS trackers. But if you primarily need basic insights into a lost-and-found pet’s location, it does the job.
Cost: $15 for 1 tag. $12.99 monthly membership optional.Shop Pawscout Smart Tag on Amazon
Garmin Astro 430/T 5
Best For: Hiking, camping, hunting, and outdoor adventurers.
The Garmin Astro 430 combined with a TT 15 GPS dog tracker comprises a rugged pet tracking setup ready for outdoor adventures.
- Uses advanced GPS/GLONASS satellite tracking; no cell service required.
- Handheld Astro 430 receiver shows locations of multiple dogs from up to 10 miles away.
- Preloaded with detailed US/Canada topographical maps.
- Waterproof and built to withstand harsh outdoor elements.
- Bundle includes Astro handheld and one TT 15 GPS dog collar.
- Add up to 20 dogs with additional TT 15 collars (sold separately).
- Built-in bark detection sensor alerts you when dogs are on the chase.
The Garmin Astro 430 combo is purpose built for hunting dogs and outdoor excursions. The GPS tracking provides precision insights into your dog’s location even when cell service is nonexistent.
And the preloaded TOPO maps with satellite imagery give you pinpoint accuracy. Tracking your dogs in remote wilderness locations is no problem for this rugged unit.
While expensive, it’s worth it for outdoor pros who regularly adventure in the sticks with their pup. For backcountry treks, the Garmin Astro 430 bundle is money well spent.
Cost: $599.99 for the Astro 430 + TT 15 bundle.Shop Garmin Astro 430/T 5 on Amazon
Choosing the Right GPS Tracker for Your Pet
With so many options on the market, choosing the right GPS tracker for your cat or dog depends on weighing your specific needs.Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is most important – location tracking, activity monitoring, or a balance of both?
- What is my budget for an upfront purchase price and ongoing subscription costs?
- How large is my pet? Do weight and size limits matter?
- Does my pet need rugged, waterproof construction?
- Do I want health alerts about abnormal behaviors?
- Will I use my tracker primarily in cities or remote wilderness?
- How tech savvy am I? Can I manage charging and a smartphone app?
Once you’ve assessed your unique situation, match it against the best GPS pet tracker that fits your priorities.
The products reviewed above represent your best options currently available. Choose wisely and enjoy having greater peace of mind wherever your furry friend roams free.
FAQs About GPS Pet Trackers
How accurate are GPS pet trackers?
The most accurate GPS pet trackers leverage cellular data and satellites to pinpoint your pet’s location within several feet. This degree of accuracy is critical to finding exactly where a lost pet is. Avoid any tracker that can’t provide reliable street-level accuracy.
Are there any free GPS pet trackers?
Unfortunately, there are no free, full-featured GPS pet trackers currently on the market. Completely free options like Tile or Apple AirTag have very limited Bluetooth-only range.
To get advanced location tracking and monitoring with unlimited range, a service fee is required. However, you can find very affordable options like the Tractive GPS tracker starting at $6.99 per month.
How long does the battery last on GPS pet trackers?
Battery life varies widely, from just a few days to up to 3 months on a single charge. The longest-lasting batteries are found in dedicated GPS pet collars like the Fi Smart Dog Collar. Smaller clip-on trackers typically last 4-14 days before needing a recharge.
Can GPS trackers work without cell service?
Full-fledged GPS pet trackers require cellular data service to transmit location information from the tracker to your phone. However, some GPS-only models like the Garmin Astro 430 bundle work offline by directly communicating between the handheld and GPS collar. But these are niche products best suited for backcountry use.
Are GPS dog collars safe for dogs?
Reputable GPS collars with proper government approvals are entirely safe for dogs when used as directed. Models certified by the FCC limit emitted energy to safe levels. Avoid cheap, unregulated devices and ensure your pet tolerates wearing the tracker. Never attach around the neck too tightly.
Can cats wear GPS trackers too?
Absolutely! GPS pet trackers work equally well for cats and small pets. Just be sure to choose a small, lightweight model like the Jiobit Smart Tag that won’t bother your feline. Never attach any collar too tightly around a cat’s neck. Safety breakaway collars are recommended.
When should I activate Lost Pet mode?
Lost Pet mode uses more battery but provides more frequent location updates, often as fast as every 2-3 seconds. Activate it immediately once you notice your pet missing. The faster tracking allows you to see their movement in real-time and track them down quicker.
Can I see my pet’s location history?
The best GPS pet trackers record and store location history, allowing you to look back at the routes your pet traveled and places they visited. History can be viewed by day, month, or total timeframe. This helps identify favorite spots and ensure your pet is getting enough activity.
- Real-time GPS pet trackers use cellular data and satellites to pinpoint and monitor your pet’s whereabouts.
- Benefits include finding lost pets quickly, monitoring activity & health, creating safe zones, and getting low battery alerts.
- Important features are tracking accuracy, battery life, water resistance, range, geofencing capabilities, and size.
- Top recommendations include Whistle, Tractive, Fi Smart Collar, and Garmin for rugged use.
- Consider your specific priorities and needs when picking the right GPS tracker for your pet.
- Setup, charging, maintaining, and using the smartphone app of your tracker is essential.
- While expensive, GPS pet trackers provide peace of mind and are well worth the investment for pets who spend time outdoors.
The Final Word
We hope this guide has helped you understand the life-saving potential of using a GPS tracker for your beloved pets. The fear of losing your furry friend is real, but technology now exists to quickly locate them even when lost far from home.
While no tracker is 100% foolproof, the latest devices provide precise, real-time tracking and monitoring to offer peace of mind when your pets are roaming and exploring.
Take the time to educate yourself and pick the ideal model for your needs. We wish you and your pets happy trails and safe adventures ahead! Let us know if you have any other questions.