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Best pet trackers: Keep an eye on your furry friend’s activity

Cat wearing one of the best pet trackers
(Image credit: Getty)

If your pet enjoys wandering away from home, the best pet trackers will ensure their safety and give you peace of mind. What’s more, pet trackers monitor your furry pal’s activity levels, and can tell you how fit and healthy they are. In particular, if you have an overweight furbaby, trackers can show how many calories they’ve burned and how many steps they’ve walked in a day. This makes it easier to monitor their health and any concerns you may have to address with your vet. 

In addition, if you really wanted to find out what your pet is up to, the best pet cameras are another great option. So you can see if your pet is ready to make a grand escape and intervene! 

In any case, these are nowhere as effective as tracker devices that are connected to your phone via an app. This works better in pinpointing their exact location so you don’t have to worry when they suddenly go missing. 

With so many different types of trackers on the market, there are some considerations to make before you buy. Firstly, how big is the tracker? You don’t want anything too bulky and uncomfortable that will weigh down your pet. It’s worthwhile looking for lightweight or compacts ones depending on the size and build of your furry pal. 

Next up, what material is it made from? You want it to last long, so buy one that won’t easily destroy from a biter or clawer who may want to chew off the tracker. It also needs to be waterproof and durable if thrown around or dropped in mud or concrete. 

Other useful things to consider are the battery life, ease of use and if there are any monthly subscriptions to be aware of. Most pet tracker apps require monthly subscription fees to access certain features, however, these are usually inexpensive. 

In the meantime, we’ve selected the best pet trackers for your feline friend or canine companion to help to keep happy and safe. 

PetsRadar's pick of the best pet trackers

  • Best pet tracker overall: Jiobit Location Monitor
  • Best pet tracker for dogs: Pawfit 2
  • Best GPS pet tracker: Tractive GPS Tracker for Dogs
  • Best activity tracker for dogs: PitPat
  • Best GPS only pet tracker: PetFon Pet GPS Tracker
  • Best pet tracker for cats: Weenect Cats 2
  • Best location tracker for cats: Loc8tor Tabcat
  • Best long coverage GPS tracker for dogs: Weenect Dogs 2 

Jiobit Location MonitorBest buy award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Jiobit Location Monitor

Best overall pet tracker

GPS tracking: Yes | Activity tracking: No | Waterproof: Yes | Battery life: Up to 20 days

Impressive battery life
Unmatched level of security and encryption
Extremely lightweight
Expensive

Bound to be the go-to pet tracker for 2021, this new offering from Jiobit offers unmatched security and encryption - making it a great choice not just for your pet but also for any small humans or seniors who might use it. 

Tiny and long-lasting with an impressive battery life of up to 20 days, the lightweight Jiobit weighs in at a tiny 0.8 ounces, so your pet won’t even know they’re wearing it.

It has real-time GPS tracking and smart alerts, a next-gen low-power 5G-compatible network, and progressive beaconing technology that combines WiFi, cellular, GPS, and Bluetooth to track your furkid wherever they are. 

Waterproof and durable, this nifty device features government-level encryption for maximum privacy and security and it comes with several different attachments, allowing it to be worn in multiple different ways, so you can find one that suits your pet. 

You’ll need to purchase a monthly subscription for this little beauty, which will set you back anywhere between $8.99 and $14.99, but when it comes to tracking, the award-winning Jiobit is the best product on the market right now, which makes it well worth it in our books. 

Pawfit pet trackerPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Pawfit)

Pawfit 2

Best pet trackers for dogs

GPS tracking: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | Waterproofing: IP68 | Battery life: 4-5 days

Great waterproofing
Plenty of features and statistics
Decent battery
A little bulky

Pawfit takes the idea of a GPS pet tracker and adds some neat touches of its own. The unit itself, which is IP68 waterproofed for submersion up to three metres, click-fits into a collar mount, so it's reasonably straightforward to remove for charging without needing to take the whole collar off, and just drops onto a custom charging dock to juice up. The unit itself is marginally more cumbersome than Tractive's tracker below. This is particularly noticeable if you're using it to track a larger cat, something Pawfit suggests: it's light enough, but probably a little large.

There are a number of safety features too, such as alerts when the tracker is removed from the collar, geofencing to tell if your dog strays beyond a certain boundary, and a temperature sensor to make sure they're not getting too cold. It'll also play an audio alert if someone finds your dog, with all the information they need to get your pet returned to you.

You'll find plenty of activity monitoring smarts in here too, with an app to help make sense of them. If you're looking to increase your dog's fitness, this is perfect. Pawfit's second-generation tracker does require a subscription to get running, mainly to pay for the costs of running its cellular-connected live tracking hardware. It's not too expensive, and there's a discount if you pay for a whole year at a time, compared to pay-monthly costs.

Tractive pet tracker

(Image credit: Tractive)

Tractive GPS Tracker for Dogs

Best GPS Tracker

GPS tracking: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | Waterproofing: IP67 | Battery life: 2-5 days

Compact design
Great looking app
Clever pet-proof construction
Expensive to run

No matter what you’re looking to get insight on – from location tracking to fitness and activity monitoring – Tractive’s newly revised tracker seems to cover it, all in a handsome-enough dark-colored case that sits on the collar. 

Tracktive's recent revision of its tracking hardware, which shaves a few grams and a fair amount of size off of the previous model, makes for a much more discrete tracker; it's still chunky enough to look a bit awkward on smaller dogs, certainly, but larger canines will barely notice that it's there. 

As for what it can do, you've got full activity monitoring, with statistics like calorie burning fed into the app, perfect for those tricky diets; there's a geofence facility, so you can see in an instant if your dog has absconded from the garden; live location tracking, so you're able to work out exactly where they've gotten to if that does happen; and a location history function, which is potentially a little more useful in the cat version but nice to have here too.

The Tractive GPS Tracker for Dogs is IP67 waterproof-rated and appears pretty tough with it, and its activation button is cleverly positioned so as to make it paw-proof. All you really need to do is charge it once every two to five days, and keep up with the subscription plan. About that,: this isn't super-cheap to keep running even on its most basic plan, though again the cost per month is different depending on how long you sign up for. Just bear in mind that the one-off purchase price is only part of the puzzle.

This specific model isn't available in the US, but the Tractive GPS DOG LTE is the same product with the right wireless systems to suit the US.

Pitpat pet tracker

(Image credit: Pitpat)

PitPat

Best activity tracker for dogs

GPS tracking: No | Activity tracking: Yes | Waterproofing: IP67 | Battery life: 1 year

Super-small
Super-light
Lasts for an age
No location tracking

Want to find your dog when it's run off? This isn't the product for you. The PitPat is something completely different: it's a dedicated activity tracker, the collar-hanging equivalent of a canine Fitbit, designed to track just how much exercise your dog has been getting, with an app that helps you track everything that goes along with it – including, if it's a concern, manual tracking of your dog's weight.

The unit itself is a very well-designed, tiny 16g module which attaches securely to your dog's collar with parachute-grade velcro, and at 16g it's light enough to be suitable for puppies as well as larger dogs. The whole thing is waterproof, so even if your hound is the kind that can't resist a muddy dip in their favorite spot, the PitPat should survive unscathed.

All of the PitPat's features are available to you without a subscription; the only additional payments are for app features that add a little motivation to keep your dog well-walked, or offer pertinent pup fitness advice if you want to get your dog to the ideal weight for its breed. 

Perhaps the coolest feature is the battery life: the internals are so simple that it'll easily track your dog's movements for a whole year on a single CR2032 coin battery.

PetFon GPS Tracker

(Image credit: PetFon)

PetFon Pet GPS Tracker

Best GPS only Tracker

GPS Tracking: Yes | Activity Tracking: No | Waterproofing: Rainproof | Battery Life: 8-16 hours

Great for dog walkers
Prerecord commands
Flashing lights
No activity tracking
Not as effective in built-up areas

The PetFon GPS Tracker is a small and durable device that can be worn on your dog’s collar, allowing you to track their whereabouts and pinpoint their exact location should they run off. The PetFon tracker used GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth with long-distance wireless technology that can give you the precise location of your dog when they’re wearing the device.

One of the great things about this pet tracker is that the app is totally free without subscription, and allows you to track within a range of 3.5 miles within an open environment. When in a dense area however, you may find the tracking range to vary and it can be affected by your surroundings, so really this device is designed for when you take your dog on long walks in the open.

You can set the device with a ‘safe zone’ which will notify you immediately should your pet go beyond this point, and you can also set the tracker to activate coloured lights on the device which can make your dog easier to locate in poor weather conditions or at night.

In addition to this, you can prerecord commands onto the device, so that should they leave your sight, you can activate these commands remotely to communicate with your pooch. This is ideal for anyone with an excitable pup who likes to run off miles ahead of you.

The battery life lasts anywhere between 8-16 hours, which suggests that this device is only meant to be worn during walks, and not all day. The device is also rainproof, but not waterproof, so it’s unlikely to hold up if your dog decides to go for a swim. The device does come with a handy portable charging station which is ideal for taking on long trips away.

This isn’t an activity tracker but great for long dog walks, trails and hikes to keep your dog within reach at all times.

weenect pet tracker

(Image credit: Weenect)

Weenect Cats 2

Best pet tracker for cats

GPS tracking: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | Waterproofing: IP67 | Battery life: 3 days

Very compact
Environment-proofing
Great location-tracking features
Reasonably short battery

Smaller in all dimensions than the equivalent GPS tracker from Tractive, and 5g lighter, there's some merit to Weenect's claims that this is the smallest GPS tracker available for cats. It may be the smallest, but it's still relatively bulky in comparison to the tiny puck of the Tabcat.

Of course, being a GPS tracker means you get GPS tracker features; there's no distance limit (provided the SIM card inside can get a fix on a mobile tower), and there's plenty of data available to feed back to your phone, including a neat heat map function that tells you the areas your cat specifically likes to frequent, overlaid on a local map. 

There's really nothing missing. You can ring and vibrate the tracker at will, whether helping to aurally locate your cat when you get within its GPS range or simply alerting your cat that it's time to come home for dinner; you can track multiple cats within the same app; you can pinpoint your cat's location on a map, follow a compass, or use an augmented reality radar function to find it in the foliage. 

The real downsides here are the battery life – which Weenect pegs at 72 hours, and we'd charitably suggest may be a lot lower than that if you're watching your cat exploring next door's garden via the live tracking function – and the appearance, which doesn't quite have the class of some competing brands.

A final note: due to its reliance on cellular connectivity, this one's Europe-only, and Weenect doesn't currently have a US version available. You'll also need to pay a subscription fee, which is around the typical average for these kinds of devices.

Tabcat pet tracker

(Image credit: Loc8tor tabcat)

Loc8tor Tabcat

Best location tracker for cats

GPS tracking: No | Activity tracking: No | Waterproofing: Splashproof | Battery life: 1 year

Tiny and light
No subscription
Fantastic range (in theory)
Requires shoe leather

The technology in use here isn't GPS or Bluetooth, it's good old-fashioned radio. That gives the Tabcat a whole host of advantages over its more bulky competition, not least of which is a vastly increased range. 

The actual cat portion of the tracker is a tiny 6g module that barely weighs more than any other collar tag, which is perfect for cats that aren't going to tolerate the likes of the chunky Tractive GPS tracker dangling from their necks. There's no subscription required, because it's a self-contained service that doesn't need to talk to any systems online. Its battery also lasts a whole lot longer than those of power-hungry GPS trackers, so you won't need to remove and juice up the tracker nearly as often. It might also, in certain circumstances, end up being more accurate than GPS.

But let's talk about that. The Loc8tor Tabcat doesn't give you a phone interface or any valuable activity data. It's all about finding where your cat is right now, which means putting on your shoes and going for a hunt. If you're in range of your cat, its RF remote shows a series of lights that help you manually pinpoint the direction and distance of up to four different trackers; for skittish and frequently absent cats, that could be just the thing you need. 

The collar tag also lightly beeps when a connection is made, helping you to find them; Loc8tor suggests that this can sometimes encourage your cat to come home by itself. While this may be effective in urban areas, where cats' territory tends to be a little smaller, we'd suggest that this might not be the best option for rural cats with wider roaming ranges.

Tractive pet tracker

(Image credit: Tractive)

Tractive GPS Tracker for Cats

Best GPS tracker for cats

GPS tracking: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | Waterproofing: IPX7 | Battery life: 2-5 days

Small enough for cats (just)
Fantastic app
Cat-proof shell
Expensive to run

We've looked at the Tractive GPS Tracker for Dogs above, and this cat version doesn't deviate far in terms of technology. In fact, as far as we can tell, its white shell packs precisely the same hardware as its dog counterpart, the same size and weight, and we can tell why Tractive recommends it for cats 4kg and up: the relative scale tends to be a little different here. The Tractive GPS Tracker for Cats is big, and while we've certainly heard stories of cats treating it with their usual nonchalance and completely ignoring it, we've also heard others of cats struggling to eat with it attached to the included collar. It’s not for those cats that never really left the kitten stage, we'd say.

Of course, being attached to a cat rather than a dog means that many of those neat Tractive features come in a lot more handy. As a society we tend to have a lot more trust in our cats to go and do their own thing; the live tracking will help you to see exactly where your outdoor cat is currently languishing. Activity monitoring over time is a great way to see the extent of their territory. You might also be able to suss out if they're getting dinner elsewhere, and use the light and sound functions to both spook your own cat a little and alert whoever's dishing up the illicit food that you're onto them.

It's big, relatively heavy and, like the dog version, the subscription fee might sting a little, but the Tractive GPS Tracker for Cats is a good option for keeping close tabs on your tabby.

Note that network restrictions mean this is a Europe-only product; in the US, there's no specific cat version, but you may be able to use the similar Tractive GPS DOG LTE on your cat if it's burly enough.

Weenect Dogs 2Pets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Weenect)

Weenect Dogs 2

Best long coverage GPS tracker for dogs

GPS tracking: Yes | Activity tracking: No | Waterproof: Yes | Battery life: Up to three days

 Real-time GPS and unlimited coverage 
 No distance limit between tracker and your phone 
 Reasonable price 
 Small and discreet size 
 Doesn’t fit every collar 
 You need a subscription 
 Battery lift is not as long as others 

If you want a small yet effective GPS tracker for dogs, this is the ideal choice. And while it happens to be the ‘world’s smallest’ GPS tracker, it comes with some big features. 

These include real time tracking with three tracking modes – map, compass or radar. Also, there is no distance limit between the tracker and your device, unlike Bluetooth trackers which can get stop working from a further coverage. 

In addition, it features a training function which can ring or vibrate the tracker to call your dog remotely to return home for mealtimes. And to ensure there are no great escapes, it has an anti-escape alert where you can set up safe zones to be notified whenever your pooch ventures outside of those.

You’ll need a subscription for all of these great features, and the included SIM card can be used in most European countries. Best of all, it covers 99% of the coverage, so you can track your pooch practically everywhere, even in a forest!

Some customers have mentioned the tracker doesn’t fit every collar so you’ll need to bear this in mind.  What’s more, the battery life lasts up to three days, compared to others on the market. But this will depend on time spent using it and the signal strength. Overall, the Weenect Dogs 2 offers so much more at an affordable price.  

How to choose a pet tracker

The breed and species of your pet will be a big driver to choose a particular tracker over another; larger breeds can easily accommodate larger trackers – and they're often the breeds you'll want to use them on anyway – whereas smaller dogs or cats might look a little silly with a large tracking module around their necks.

A good pet-safe collar is a must, so your pet will need to be used to wearing a collar at all times if you want constant tracking. There's not much that can be done about this. People sometimes think a pet tracker can be injected or embedded, in the same manner as a traditional microchip ID. That's just not the case; they need complex electronics and batteries. 

Bear in mind that attaching these to a safe collar – one that will break should your pet's neck get snagged, means the possibility of losing the tracker. Luckily GPS trackers do, by their nature, have tracking built in, so they're relatively easy to find again if they get dropped.

One final point: the pet tracker market is, shall we say, a little volatile. More than one tracker has come along and rather abruptly disappeared, meaning it's well worth considering the likely longevity of not only the tracking hardware but the software backing connected models up. If the manufacturer pulls the plug, which is always a risk, that nifty collar accessory could turn into nothing more than a plastic pendant. Tractive is a strong choice for us because it's been around for a while, for example.

You’ll also need to keep up with the subscription fees on connected trackers; they’re typically not super-high, but tracking a household full of pets could make GPS trackers rather expensive to run.

Alex Cox

Alex is a freelance writer, editor and sub editor specialising in entertainment and technology; he is a father of two, and owned by three increasingly grumpy cats. Somehow he has been doing this for 24 years, and it's still fun.