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The best pet trackers you can buy: Expert tested

ZDNET's pet parents went hands-on with some of the top pet trackers to track your furry friend's location, activity levels, and more.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer
Petcube GPS Tracker | Best pet tracker overall
Petcube GPS Tracker
Petcube GPS Tracker
Best pet tracker overall
View now View at Amazon
Apple AirTag | Best pet tracker for Apple users
Apple-AirTag
Apple AirTag
Best pet tracker for Apple users
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Ring Pet Tag | Best budget pet tracker
ring-pet-tag
Ring Pet Tag
Best budget pet tracker
View now View at Amazon
Halo Collar 3 | Best pet tracker for training
Yellow dog collar
Halo Collar 3
Best pet tracker for training
View now View at Best Buy
Minitailz Health and GPS tracker | Best pet tracker for health
Invoxia Minitailz on Dog Collar
Minitailz Health and GPS tracker
Best pet tracker for health
View now View at Amazon
Tractive Cat Tracker | Best pet tracker for cats
Black cat GPS tracker
Tractive Cat Tracker
Best pet tracker for cats
View now View at Amazon
Show more (1 item)

If you're a proud parent of a dog or cat, your furry friend going missing is probably one of your biggest fears. And while it's a good idea to get your dog or cat microchipped at the vet, a pet tracker can be an excellent way to keep tabs on them if they ever go astray. 

Pet trackers you can buy today use GPS or location-finding services to locate your cat or dog; some even have special features like health and activity tracking.

Also: Everything you need for a smart pet setup

What is the best pet tracker right now? 

ZDNET pet owners put some of the best pet trackers to the test with our furry friends. Our top pick for the best pet tracker is the Petcube, thanks to its GPS tracking, activity monitoring, and seamless fit into most collars. As a cat owner of an orange tabby named Norbert, I also included other pet trackers from brands like Apple, Ring, Halo, and more for all types of pet parents. 

Also: The best Bluetooth trackers you can buy

The best pet trackers of 2024

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • GPS tracking
  • Activity tracking
  • Accompanying app is easy to use
Cons
  • Not suited for cats or smaller dogs
  • Need a subscription for the best tracking features
More Details

The Petcube GPS tracker is a location device that lets users keep tabs on their dog's location. The tracker fits into a silicon case that goes on a dog's collar, and the device -- which has an LED light and a beeper that can be controlled in the Petcube app -- is also waterproof. 

Along with location data, the Petcube offers activity monitoring to track your pet's burned calories, activity time, and distance walked and compare it to previous data. You can even create "safe zones" in the app and get notified when your pet steps outside these areas.

Also, The Petcube is the most advanced GPS dog tracker I've tested. 

When ZDNET's Maria Diaz tested the Petcube tracker on her furry friend, she said she loved how innovative it was. "I like the fact I can always see precisely where my dog is and that I have peace of mind from tracking his steps with 'Lost Pet Mode,' which is a high-sensitivity tracking mode you can activate when you think you've lost your dog," Diaz wrote in her review. 

Remember that the tracker can be too heavy for small and extra small dogs -- a common complaint in verified customer reviews -- and requires a subscription to use the tracking capabilities. The subscription will cost you $5 a month. 

Petcube features: Real-time GPS tracking | $5/mo subscription | Up to 30 days of battery life

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Find My network provides super accurate tracking
  • Small in size
Cons
  • Find My doesn't work in remote locations
  • Device will beep after six hours of separation
More Details

For Apple users, the AirTag is an obvious way to track their pets. It uses the Find My network, which utilizes nearly one billion Apple devices. The network tells you the direction you need to go to find your AirTag and exactly how far away it is.

An AirTag is a good option if you are a work-from-home pet parent or just want to keep tabs on your curious cat. ZDNET editor Sabrina Ortiz used the AirTag with her Yorkie, Jimmy, and said she appreciated how it isn't bulky on his collar and how Find My provides super-accurate location tracking.

One Reddit user noted an AirTag helped them find their indoor cat who loves to hide in new places around the house, bringing them more peace of mind.

Also: 7 ways AirTags can simplify your life (beyond tracking keys)

However, the AirTag does come with a few caveats, such as the risk of not being found in remote locations if no iPhones are nearby (like if you go hiking or camping and lose your pet) and the device beeping after six hours of separation from its "host" iPhone. And, if your pet is anything like mine, that constant beeping noise may not go over well. 

Apple AirTag features: One-year battery life | U1 ultra wideband chip for precision tracking | Works with all Apple devices

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Fits on any collar
  • Affordable
  • Customizable pet profile
Cons
  • No GPS tracking
More Details

For just $10, you can get the Ring Pet Tag to track your pet. The Pet Tag looks like any regular pet tag, except it has a QR code on the back. When someone finds your pet, they scan the QR code, and you will be notified that your lost pet's tag has been scanned. 

Although it doesn't use GPS, by scanning the QR code, the pet finder will have access to a pet profile that displays information such as health conditions or behavior, allowing the pet to receive any care it might need. 

Pet owners can also opt into the "Contact Me" on the pet profile, which allows the pet finder to engage in two-way communication, making it easier to return the pet to its family. 

"While we have our beagle chipped, I always worry someone won't go to the trouble of taking him somewhere for it to be read and reported," a verified customer reviewed on Amazon. "This makes it easy for anyone with a smartphone, and the screen it pops up with has their photo and all pertinent info."

Ring Pet Tag features: Real-time alerts | Anonymous communication | No subscription, battery, or fees

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • GPS tracking and boundary setting
  • Feedback for training
  • Monitor your dog's activity
Cons
  • Subscription costs $10 per month
  • Battery life is only 24 hours
More Details

This high-tech collar has features like real-time GPS tracking, activity tracking, safety alerts, and an accompanying app. There's also prevention and encouragement feedback using vibrations, sounds, or static to train your dog for good behavior or to warn them if they are acting out.

The Halo Collar 3 also allows you to create virtual fences in the Halo app that make the collar beep or vibrate if your dog crosses the boundaries -- an alternative to an invisible fence system.

Plus, the built-in activity tracker shows you daily activity charts and how long your dog spent on walks, resting, and more. It's waterproof, too (IP67), so if your pup likes getting into the water, the collar will still work. 

Overall, 91% of Chewy pet parents would recommend the Halo Collar 3 to others, giving it an overall rating of 4.6 out of 5.

Halo Collar 3 features: 24-hour battery life | Real-time GPS | Comes in two sizes and four color options

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Great battery life
  • Helpful health insights
Cons
  • Expensive subscription costs
  • Activity notifications aren't always super accurate
More Details

Leveraging AI and other advanced tech, the Minitaliz Health and GPS tracker tracks your dog's location, activity, and biometrics, such as walking, playing, running, sleeping, eating times, and heart and respiratory resting rates. It's perfect for pet parents with a pet who has a medical condition or disease so that you can monitor and track their health. 

The device can slip onto any collar, and the battery is super impressive, lasting two weeks before needing a charge. A helpful activity notification feature alerts you when your pup is going for a walk or having playtime.  This feature would be handy if you leave your pet at a doggy daycare or with a sitter to ensure everything is going according to schedule. 

Review: Is a pet health tracker worth it? I was skeptical, but now I'm obsessed.

Ortiz also went hands-on with the Minitailz tracker on her dog and said she was especially impressed by the daily reports feature. "As a crazy dog mom, this feature alone is worth the investment because it helps bridge the communication gap with my four-legged friend," she wrote in her review. "It shows me things Jimmy can't express, such as whether he had enough playtime, walks, exercise, and a good night's sleep."

To get the most out of your Minitailz, you need to let it gather as much information about your dog as possible, so it should be kept on your dog all day and night and might take a few weeks to adjust to your pet's routine. Also, remember you'll have to pay for a subscription, and you can only purchase a one-year subscription for $130 or two years for $230. 

Minitailz Health and GPS tracker features a Two-week battery life | AI technology for activity tracking | LTE-M network for GPS

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Unlimited location range
  • Activity and wellness tracking
  • Two subscription plans to choose from
Cons
  • Customers complain that battery life is shorter than advertised
More Details

For cat owners who may have an indoor or outdoor cat that likes to explore, the Tractive Cat Tracker is a great way to keep tabs on your tabby, thanks to its unlimited location range and support.

Made specifically for cats who are 6.5 pounds and over, this tracker updates your cat's location every 60 seconds and allows you to set up virtual fences so you get alerted if your cat strays too far away. You can even see your cat's history and territory to finally know where they head off to every night or figure out their favorite hiding spots when you can't find them. 

There is also activity tracking to monitor activity and sleep levels and alert you when one of those metrics is off, which could mean your cat is sick or hurt. Plus, it's waterproof and built to sustain cats climbing through trees, shrubs, or whatever else they might get into. One Reddit user said it helped them find their cats every time they climbed something they couldn't escape.

There are two subscription tiers and three payment methods: monthly, yearly, or every two years. While the premium plan gives you features like family sharing and GPS data export, you can get away with the basic plan for cheaper and with the most important features like location and activity tracking.

Tractive Cat Tracker features: Basic and Premium plans | Battery life up to 7 days | Comes in two sizes

What is the best pet tracker?

Our pick for the best pet tracker for most pet parents is the Petcube, since it provides both GPS and activity tracking. Here is a more detailed comparison of our top picks. 

Pet tracker

Price

Tracking type

Pet type

Petcube

$40 (plus subscription)

Location and acitivty

Dogs

Apple AirTag

$25

Find My network

Cats and dogs

Ring Pet Tag

$10

QR code

Cats and dogs

Halo Collar 3

$699 (plus subscription)

Location and acitivty

Dogs

Minitailz Health and GPS tracker

$99 (plus subscription)

Location, activity, and health metrics

Dogs

Tractive Cat Tracker

$50 (plus subscription)

Location and activity

Cats

Which pet tracker is right for you?

It really depends on what kind of pet you have and how they behave, what you need the tracker for, and what features are most important to you.

Choose this pet tracker...

If you want...

Petcube

The best overall option for most pet parents. It has a lot of value for its reasonable price thanks to GPS and activity tracking.

Apple AirTag

A pet tracker for Apple users. The Find My network is incredibly accurate at location tracking both inside and outside. 

Ring Pet Tag

A budget-friendly pet tracker. It uses a QR code so if your pet is ever lost and someone finds it, they have important information in how to contact you.

Halo Collar 3

A pet tracker to reinforce training behaviors. You can also set location boundaries by creating virtual fences in the app. 

Minitailz Health and GPS tracker

A pet tracker that's a detailed wearable for your dog. It provides helpful health metrics like activity, heart and respiratory resting rates, sleep, and more.

Tractive Cat Tracker

A pet tracker for your curious cat. It has unlimited location range to give you a better idea of where your cat is hiding.

Factors to consider when choosing a pet tracker

Before buying a pet tracker for your furry friend, consider the following main criteria. 

  • Location tracking: Pet trackers use various ways to track your pet, whether it be Bluetooth, GPS, or cellular data. Consider which type of location tracking you prefer.
  • Activity tracking: Pet trackers can provide great insights into how active your pet is during the day so you can be sure they are getting the proper amount of playtime in. 
  • Compatibility: Be sure that whatever pet tracker you get is compatible with your smartphone. Also consider pet trackers that have an accompanying app. 
  • Pet type: Not all pet trackers are made for all pets. The bigger, bulkier ones are best for dogs, while the smaller tags are better for cats. 
  • Price: Pet trackers range in price from $10 to $600. You must also factor in a monthly or yearly subscription price before making your purchase. 

How did we test these pet trackers?

At ZDNET, we love our pets, so when choosing the best pet trackers, who only recommend products we would use with our own fur babies. For products we have tested, we pay attention to if our pet(s) liked the device, if it lived up to its claims, and if it provided accurate tracking information. 

For products we have not gone hands-on with, we look at customer reviews (both good and bad) as well as competitor analysis to make our final picks. 

Do you need a subscription for a pet tracker?

Most pet trackers require a subscription cost (either monthly or yearly) due to the nature of the cost of GPS tracking and using satellites to do so. The two options on our list that don't require a subscription is the AirTag and the Ring Pet Tag. 

How far do pet trackers track?

Bluetooth pet collars will have a much shorter range than GPS trackers, often limited to about 100 feet (Apple's AirTag is only about 33 feet). On the other hand, GPS trackers use signals from satellites to track your pet, meaning no matter how far away they go, you'll have their location. 

Are there alternative pet trackers worth considering?

There are plenty of other pet trackers on the market aside from our top picks. Here are a few other options we think are worth considering. 

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