Our furry friends are important members of the family, and leaving them at home while we go out to do people things can be hard. However, pet cameras—specifically designed to keep watch over dogs and cats—can make the human’s absence from the home less stressful for both parties. If you’ve considered getting a pet camera, there’s no better time than now.
Updated January 2023: We’ve added the Furbo 360 and Wyze Cam Pan V3.
Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-Year Subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.
Security Camera or Pet Camera?
Before getting into details about specific cameras, it’s important to clarify the difference between pet cameras and your run-of-the-mill security camera.
Security cameras let you watch your pet while you’re away from home, but pet cameras often have a few more pet-specific features that can make them more helpful. Some can dispense treats or allow you to interact with your dog or cat using your voice or a type of video chat. They can help address common issues like separation anxiety and boredom, which can lead to destroyed furniture, other kinds of property damage, or undue stress.
That’s not to say that you can’t use a security camera as a pet cam—we actually have a recommendation below that can help. Regardless of what you buy, you should take steps to secure the device. Like any other smart home device that connects to Wi-Fi, there’s a chance it can be hacked and compromise your privacy. Make sure your Wi-Fi password is strong, set up two-factor authentication with your camera’s app, and keep it updated. It’s smart to keep it turned off when you’re home, too.
Best for Dogs
The Furbo 360 Dog Camera spins circles around the competition (9/10 WIRED Recommends). Seriously—the camera turns a full 360 degrees, compared to the static picture you get on most other pet cameras. Like its immobile predecessor, this stylish pet camera also includes basics like two-way communication and bark notifications, and it even lets you toss a treat.
Most pet cameras have a wide field of view to see a large part of your room, but the ability to spin 360 degrees means you can monitor the whereabouts of your pup at any moment. Even better is the fact that it features Auto Dog Tracking, following them from one spot to the next so you don’t have to frantically search every time you open the app. This tracking can be tough if you have two dogs traipsing around, but I typically found that where one dog goes, the other tends to follow. If it’s nighttime or the room doesn’t have a lot of light, you can still see your fur babies in color night vision with the 1080p camera.
If this baseline monitoring and interaction isn’t enough, you have the option to subscribe to Furbo’s Dog Nanny service for $7 a month. It’ll snap selfies of your dog, send safety alerts about smoke or carbon monoxide and fallen objects—even chewing alerts—and can spot intruders too. All of these 15-second video clips are saved to the cloud, so you can review the situation as many times as you need, wherever you are.