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Taking Care of Your Pets Remotely When on Assignment

Posted on: December 31, 2019

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Staying in Touch With Your Pets

Working long shifts can make it hard to keep up with your pets. One of the things the Internet-of-Things can do is let you see and interact with your pets from afar.

There are various pet-watching devices available. Some use regular home security camera technology to see what the pets are doing and others let you interact with your buddy. Some do both plus let you give them snacks.

What are some of the differences between the various options and how do you know which one is right for you?

What Should You Get?

There are some things you will have to think about before determining which device is your best bet:

  • Will your internet be fast enough? Video requires a lot of bandwidth that may not always be available, especially if you take assignments in rural areas.
  • What kind of time do you have? Travel nurses travel, so you will have to invest time in setting your system up and tearing it down again.
  • How much space is available in your vehicle? You can probably find a small, empty area somewhere for a camera. It may be more of a challenge to squeeze in a camera/snack dispenser combination.
  • What do you want or need in a system? If all you want to do is keep track of what your pet is doing at random intervals, you may only need a camera. If the critter (or you) is more high-maintenance, a feeding and/or two-way communication system may fit better.

Camera Considerations

Almost all of the cameras available connect via Wi-Fi. What they are connected to is another thing you have to think about. Do you want only you to be able access your pet via an iPhone or Android-compatible app? Some, despite the additional costs, may view constant back up to the cloud important so they can review things at their leisure. Those who have dog walkers come into the house may want to monitor the interactions.

The viewing angle is a variable. Usually you can adjust the camera coverage with a certain viewing zone via the app or a product-specific home page. Having this ability can be important as you move around to differently configured housing.

Not every home has an electrical outlet where you need it. There are two main sources of power, a battery or AC. The former has the advantage of more options for placement, but battery life can be a concern. Ask about how long you can go between charging.

Best Price/Value Depends on Your Needs

The cheapest option is usually a plain security camera. It has the advantages of being small and relatively easy to set up. Many have mountings that won’t require you to put holes in the wall.

On the minus side, there are wide variations in picture quality. Some have a very high definition picture while others may not. There are differences in how well the camera works in the dark, which can be a concern when working nights.

Talking With Your Pet

The next step up is a security camera with two-way communications. They have many of the same advantages and disadvantages of their less expensive counterparts. This level does let you communicate directly with your pet.

You have a wide variety of choices if this is what you need. There are some cameras marketed specifically to pet owners including Furbo and Tooge. Some are set-up for two-way video and audio communication so that you can see your animal and they can see you. This can be helpful when encountering separation anxiety issues.

Standard home security systems such as Ring, Nest, and others provide most of the same features and are easily found stores such as Lowes, Target, and Best Buy among others. Although it will vary by manufacturer, some have the ability to interface with home assistants such as the Amazon Alexa device.

Remote Treats

For the more hard-core pet owner, the next step up is what I call the “snack cam”. Small treats can be used to reward your pet remotely for proper behavior or just to give them a snack.

Similarly, there are many different brands with many varied features and specifications. While they can remotely dispense treats, there may be differences in the size and texture that each can handle. Among the major brands in this area are the Petzi Treatcam and PetCube. These may be harder to find but most pet stores can help you; Amazon is also a possibility.

Below we have included links to a few places that talk about pet cams and discuss some of the pros and cons. These are just the ones I found looking around and can’t vouch for any of them.

Kurt Ullman, RN, BSPA, MHA
About Kurt Ullman, RN, BSPA, MHA

Kurt Ullman is a long-time RN and medical writer. He holds an associate degree in nursing from Purdue University as well as a bachelor's degree in public affairs-mass communications media and a master's in health administration, both from Indiana University.

He has 10 years of experience as an RN, mostly in psychiatry. He has also worked for six years as a staff writer and editor in radio, television, magazines, and newspapers. Since beginning as a freelance medical writer in 1985, he has had well over 1000 articles published in numerous magazines and other publications for both professional and consumer audiences.

He has earned the APEX Award for excellence in news-writing twice and received a Bronze Award and three Merit Awards from the Health Information Resource Center’s National Health Information Awards program. He also has won the Media Orthopaedic Reporting Excellence Award from The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.