There’s a many different reasons to buy a pet camera, maybe you have anxiety about leaving your pet home, maybe you just get bored at work and want to check on your fur baby, or maybe, like me you’re just a pet loving tech nerd and think they’re super cool. Whatever the reason there’s a pet monitor out there for everyone. There’s literally hundreds of choices and most of them are great products but you have to know what your needs are to choose the one that’s right for you.
I’ve put together this pet camera buying guide to help you identify what features are available, how they work, and why they should be considered in the buying process. If you have any questions or if I miss something, let me know in the comments below. I plan on making a lot of edits to this article to make sure it’s up to date and helps people through the buying process.
I also reviewed over 50 pet cameras and choose my favorite. Best Pet Cameras of 2017.
If you really want a high quality picture or if you plan on sharing pictures from your camera with family and friends you want to make sure you’re looking at cameras with 1080p and furthermore you should read into the reviews as you’ll be able to hear more about peoples thoughts on the picture quality and normally even see some pictures that owners have taken.
Inversely if you have a poor internet connection or if you have to place your camera a long way from your WiFi router you may want to look for cameras in the lower 720p resolution. This will put much less strain on your internet and it’s still a good picture. In fact most cable programming is still broadcast in 720p.
If neither of these really sound like an issue for you then I wouldn’t pay too much attention to what resolution a pet monitor is and instead pay attention to features that matter to you. Almost every camera on the market is in HD anyways, so it’s hard to miss here.
Night Vision Capabilities
Night vision is an important camera feature for people who work night shifts as well as people who travel a lot. It allows you to monitor the house and your cat or dog at night, regardless of the diminished lighting. While the video and picture quality may not be stunning (most cameras offer black and white videos), it provides the all-important ability to monitor your pet at night. It’s also worth noting that even in the daytime if your room is poorly lit having a night vision camera will be the difference between seeing what your fur-baby is doing and looking at a dark screen.
Camera Viewing Area
Pet Cameras and most home security cameras will either be static, with a fisheye lens that gives a wide viewing angle or will have a standard viewing angle with the ability to pan and tilt (move) the camera around. Some premium cameras may have both, but if you’re trying not to over spend think about where you plan on putting the camera and decide what’s best for you and go with one or the other.
Fish eye lens can cause some minor distortion and may not be great for people who want to share video or pictures from their pet camera but if you’re just using it to monitor your pet’s, a wide angle lens is great because you can place the camera in the corner of a room and every time you open your app, you’ll be able to see the whole room and locate your pet quickly. Inversely you don’t plan on placing the camera in a corner, have an odd shaped room, or if picture quality is really important, you may want to go with a standard lens that pans and tilts.
Just like with any feature it’s a good idea to refer to reviews for people’s experience. In the case of viewing area you may be able to find pictures from people already using the product so you can gauge how good the picture is and how much you’ll be able to see.
Keeping an eye on your pet and making sure they’re safe and sound may be all some pet owners need but the ability to talk to your pet while you’re away is essential for some pet owners. It’s great for pets who tend to be destructive when they get anxious, most times a familiar voice can be enough to calm down your dog or cat. It’s also great if you don’t like your pets getting up on your furniture. With two way audio, you can tell them to get off that new white couch of yours and keep your pet happy and your furniture clean.
Some pet cameras now even come with two way video, so that your pet can also see you. This is a great feature for someone who really wants to be interacting with an anxious pet as much as possible.
This is a feature that not all pet monitors have so you need to decide if it’s important to you before buying a pet camera.
Sound & Motion Detection
For some, the main use of the pet cam is to monitor feeding habits. For others is to monitor everything. Either way, it is highly impractical to keep monitoring the pet the whole time you’re away.
Motion detection is a great feature to know what your dog or cat is up to during the day and it’s also essential if your pet camera is doubling as a home security camera. Some less obvious use cases might be, keeping tabs on your pets drinking and eating habits, keeping them out of certain rooms, or maybe you just want to check in on your pet when their active so you can treat them. Whatever your reason, motion detection can send an alert right to you phone.
Another great feature for pet cameras is sound detection. Getting an alert to your phone when your dog is barking is great if you want to talk to them or treat them to keep them calm. It can also double to let you know if there’s something around your house scaring your pet or that the mail just came.
Saving and Sharing Video & Pictures
If you want to be able to look back at what your pets been up to or want the ability to share videos of your pet on social media then this is something you’re going to have to look through camera specifications to see what camera is best for you.
The main thing you need to look for is first off, does the camera even support saving video or does it only live stream the next is how does it store video. Cameras that save video do it one of two ways, they either store it on the device or in the cloud.
In the event they store it on the device, check and see how much space it has or if you need to buy an SD card. If it stores in the cloud, look out for subscription services. Storage isn’t free and most cloud storage services come with a price, that’s not always a deal breaker and a lot of times the subscription will come with a ton of cool features, but you don’t want to get your pet camera and be surprised that now there’s a monthly fee to use it.
Treat Tossing Cameras and Feeder Cams
There’s a lot of pet cameras coming to market with the ability to treat or feed your pet while you’re away. Being able to treat your pet while you’re away is a great feature to some and useless to others, so just decide what your use case is. You should also look up what kind of treats they take, most cameras will dispense small training treats but you should look up what size, shape, and consistency treats your camera wants or you may just end up with a headache trying to figure out why treats are getting stuck.
Another relatively new feature are feeders with cameras. This may sound silly to some pet owners but for pets with special diets or that cause harm to themselves by overeating this feature can really increase the quality of life for your pet and you.
Laser Pointers and Other Games
Sometimes monitoring your pet just isn’t enough and that’s okay! There’s plenty of interactive pet cameras out there that let you interact with you pet in whatever way you choose. The most popular game is laser pointers. A pet cameras with a laser pointer in it will let you literally drive your cat or dog up a wall.
Lastly, read reviews! Everyone with a pet camera or any product is trying to sell you on why you need. They’ll tell you all the cool stuff it does which is great for narrowing down which camera you want to get but once you have it narrowed down you should look into how well the pet cameras you’re looking at actually perform what they advertise.
On that note I’ve reviewed over 50 pet cameras so if you want to start with a narrow list check out some of my pet camera recommendations.