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8 best pet cameras that dispense treats, send alerts and protect your furry friend

·8-min read
Choose from food dispensers, interactive gadgets and two-way audio systems  (iStock/The Independent)
Choose from food dispensers, interactive gadgets and two-way audio systems (iStock/The Independent)

What’s your pet up to right now? Maybe you’re at home with them, in which case you’ll be able to answer the question.

But if you’re out, and you know you won’t be home for an hour or two, a pet camera can be a useful way of putting your mind at rest that they’re alright.

Read more: 10 best dog coats to keep your pet warm and dry

Pet cameras are similar to regular security cameras but with pet-friendly extras, such as treat dispensers.

A speaker means you can tell a pet to get off the sofa – though bear in mind that initially, at least, this can cause confusion as the pet looks around, excited to think that you’re home.

For many people, a regular home camera is good enough, but you’ll have to forgo the treat dispenser feature. But two-way audio, seamless views of your home and even alerts when barking is heard can more than make up for this.

The camera doesn’t need to be as advanced as those on security cameras as, frankly, facial recognition is less important. Anyway, it doesn’t work on pets.

Much more important are the things we tested for, such as build quality, ease of use, simplicity of set-up and things like how readily you can share footage or photos with other people – several cameras now include this feature in the companion app so that anyone in the family can see what Tibbles and Fido are up to.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

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Furbo

Pet: Dogs

Treat dispenser: Yes

Two-way speaker: Yes

Motion detection: Yes

Night vision: Yes

Audio alerts: Yes

The Furbo is a neatly built machine with good design. Its bamboo lid and gloss-white finish look good and the lid, where you add dog treats, is secure enough to prevent canine interference but easy enough to be removed by humans. The treats you buy have to be small enough to fit into and shoot out of the dispenser system.

Some dogs may find this alarming at first, but they quickly get used to it when they realise treats are being ejected. An effective 1080p HD camera and good two-way audio means you can see and hear clearly, even in darkened rooms, though night vision is monochrome only.

Buy now £189.00, Furbo.com

Skymee owl robot

Pet: Dogs

Treat dispenser: Yes

Two-way speaker: Yes

Motion detection: Yes

Night vision: Yes

Audio alerts: No

Suppose your pet has access to several rooms, but you only want one camera to keep an eye on them? The Skymee Owl Robot has wheels and you can control it remotely to steer it to roll through your home, though, obviously, it’s not great on stairs and it works better on hard floors than carpets. The camera is in the left of the owl’s two eyes and it offers a dog’s eye view.

The fact that it moves means it can also function as a toy for your pet to play with (it’s reasonably robust though if your pet is a puppy who enjoys chewing, this is not a good choice). It responds to movements and automatically wakes up when it spots any, recording video automatically to a memory card which is sold separately. You can talk to your pet and dispense treats using the app.

Buy now £169.99, Amazon.co.uk

Pawbo interactive pet camera

Pet: Any

Treat dispenser: Yes

Two-way speaker: Yes

Motion detection: Yes

Night vision: No

Audio alerts: Yes

While dogs are the favoured animal when it comes to most pet cameras, this one has a light pointer game which you can control from the smartphone app and which is designed to appeal to cats as well. The treats are ejected downwards, so Pawbo Plus is better sitting on the floor or the edge of a table so they reach the pet properly.

It’s small and has a 130-degree field of vision, but it doesn’t match the Furbo. The app can be used by up to eight people at the same time. Pawbo also makes other products, including ones designed to entertain your pet in your absence, but they don’t have cameras attached.

Buy now £139.99, Romypets.com

Petcube interactive wi-fi pet camera

Pet: Any

Treat dispenser: No

Two-way speaker: Yes

Motion detection: No

Night vision: Yes

Audio alerts: Yes

The brushed-aluminium Petcube looks smart and blends into human decor more easily than the Pawbo, for instance. Like the Pawbo, there’s a laser pointer built in, which you control from the Petcube smartphone app by dragging your finger around the screen. Like several other pet cameras, you can take photos and videos within the smartphone app to share with friends. And you can also share the webcam stream and laser toy capabilities with others, too.

Buy now £199.99, Romypets.com

Petzi treat cam

Pet: Dog

Treat dispenser: Yes

Two-way speaker: No

Motion detection: No

Night vision: Yes

Audio alerts: No

This was one of the first pet cameras and although others have now overtaken it, the simple system is still good, and it’s not as pricey as it was when it first launched. Like other models, the Petzi is controlled by a smartphone app. The treat dispenser is good, though, as with others, you will be limited in how big the treats can be. Audio is only one way, so although your pet can hear you when you talk to the app, you can’t hear your dog. Camera quality is good but, again, beaten by cameras on the Furbo and others here.

Buy now £120.00, Amazon.co.uk

Skymee dog camera

Pet: Any

Treat dispenser: Yes

Two-way speaker: Yes

Motion detection: Yes

Night vision: Yes

Audio alerts: Yes

Unlike the other Skymee model above, this one is more conventional in that it stays in one place. But it has some clever extras. For instance, the camera sits on a rotating base so you can pan round the room across 180 degrees, which is handy. The treat dispenser can be activated by a manual press on the top or through the smartphone app, and you can even adjust the angle at which the treats are ejected.

Motion detection can alert you the second your pet jumps on the sofa, say, and there’s a memory card slot so you can save footage locally. There’s also a surprise extra: it can wirelessly charge compatible devices if you place them on top of the gadget.

Buy now £159.99, Amazon.co.uk

Kamtron security camera

Pet: Any

Treat dispenser: No

Two-way speaker: Yes

Motion detection: Yes

Night vision: Yes

Audio alerts: Yes

There’s no treat dispenser here, but the Kamtron is very good value for what it does. The HD camera can move upwards, downwards and from side to side, so there’s no place, high or low, for your pet to hide. There are adjustable motion sensitivity controls so you don’t get alerted every time a tail wags into shot. The performance is pretty basic but it’s simple to set up and use. It also includes night vision and two-way audio. Video is stored in the cloud but you can also opt for a memory card to save it locally, too.

Buy now £42.99, Amazon.co.uk

Google nest nam iq indoor

Pet: Any

Treat dispenser: No

Two-way speaker: Yes

Motion detection: Yes

Night vision: Yes

Audio alerts: Yes

This is one of the best home security cameras currently available, and while it doesn’t have pet-specific functions, as it’s more looking out for people, it has one clever wrinkle which works well for pets. The image sensor in the camera is 4K quality. It streams in HD resolution, so it can zoom in on a part of the picture, such as that sofa the dog loves, while still having decent quality. Then there’s Nest Aware, an optional subscription service which has just gone down in price.

It offers audio alerts, and can specifically listen out for a barking dog. That subscription means you also get facial recognition included with this camera, though this is only smart enough to work with humans. You can control which parts of what the camera sees will alert you when movement is spotted.

Buy now £282.00, Currys.co.uk

The verdict: Pet cameras

Furbo is the cutting-edge pet camera, with strong design and efficient performance, though for sheer wacky interactivity, the Skymee owl robot is great fun. For an all-round camera that can listen out for dog barking, the Google nest cam iq indoor is excellent.

Discover everything you need to keep your pet happy in our guide

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