Are you old enough to remember when the smartest device in the typical home was a mechanical light timer that plugged into the wall? How times have changed. Today’s smart home manufacturers are coming up with all sorts of high-tech devices we never thought about when I was a kid. Take the pet video camera. Yes, it is a real thing.
Not convinced? Then check out this post from Vivint Smart Home. As a nationwide leader in home security and smart home technology, Vivint knows a thing or two about video cameras. They offer consumers a full-length guide to choosing the right camera to keep an eye on their pets.
The reality is that a lot of pet owners treat their animals like members of the family. They go to great lengths to protect everyone else in the house, so why not take care of the pets too? That’s the thinking, anyway.
What Makes a Camera Pet-Specific
At this point you might be thinking that a pet-specific camera is just a regular camera packaged in a box covered with pictures of cats and dogs. If so, think again. Security cameras designed specifically for pets have certain pet-friendly features built in to them.
Here are just four of those features, compliments of Vivint:
1. Two-Way Audio
A two-way audio system includes both a microphone and speaker. The system allows pet owners to both hear and talk to their animals in real time. All they need is a strong wi-fi or cell signal and a companion mobile app they can put on their phones.
As strange as it might sound, tons of pet owners want the ability to communicate with their pets whenever the animals are left alone. They say that it reduces anxiety and helps keep the animals more comfortable until their owners return.
2. Built-In Toys
Many pet-specific cameras come with small toys built right in. A good example is a laser pointer. A pet owner can use the laser pointer to play with the cat or dog just by moving the light around the room. It is all done remotely, of course.
3. Treat Dispensers
If built-in toys are not enough for pet owners, manufacturers are also equipping their pet-specific cameras with treat dispensers. Imagine that. You are talking to Fido during your coffee break. Just before your time is up, you push a button, and the camera dispenses a biscuit forthwith. You go back to work while Fido munches away.
Dispense enough camera-based treats and Fido may actually look forward to you leaving the house. No sooner are you in the car and gone than he is sitting in front of the camera waiting for a biscuit to pop out.
4. Virtual Vet Checks
Rounding out the list are virtual vet checks. Yes, you read that correctly. A small number of camera manufacturers have partnered with vets willing to provide virtual checkups online. The checkups are no different than telemedicine for human beings. By engaging with a pet via its owner’s video camera, a vet can give a general assessment about the animal’s well-being.
It should be noted that the Vivint pet camera guide also mentions a wide-angle lens. It is not included on this list because it’s not a feature specific to pet cameras. A wide-angle lens come standard on a lot of entry-level surveillance cameras as well as most mid-range and high-end models.
Motion Detection Can Be a Problem
Installing cameras to keep an eye on your pets is not a bad idea. But do not expect things to go smoothly right from the start. Pet cameras take a lot of fine-tuning to create the optimal experience. One of the biggest challenges is motion sensitivity.
It is generally accepted that you don’t want your video cameras running 24/7. That would require too much data for recording videos. When cameras are wireless, running them around the clock eat the batteries in a hurry. Motion detection solves both problems.
A motion-sensitive camera only activates when something passes in front of it. After a certain amount of time, it turns off. The problem is adjusting the sensitivity so that the camera isn’t activated too frequently or not frequently enough.
Getting it right often involves a lot of trial and error. But with patience and practice, it can be accomplished. Any change in a pet’s behavior may require adjusting motion sensitivity again.
Watching Fido on a Budget
The big downside to pet-specific cameras is the price. A camera with all the extra bells and whistles is going to cost more than a standard security camera. So if you want to watch Fido but you need to maintain a lower budget, you may want to skip the pet-specific camera and just go with standard security cameras.
Standard cameras are pretty cheap these days. You can buy them online, at your local home security store, and even at DIY and department stores. You can also buy both wired and wireless models.
Security cameras can be effective crime prevention tools on their own. But when combined with other components to create a comprehensive security system, they can make your home much more secure. But then again, we are back to budget issues. The more security devices you add to your system, the higher the bill gets.
Your Pets Don’t Have to Be Alone
This entire discussion on pets and cameras takes us back to the main point: your pets do not have to be alone when you leave the house. You can maintain visual and audio contact with video cameras that offer two-way audio. Check in on your pets throughout the day. See how they are doing; talk to them if you are so inclined.
If you can afford the bells and whistles, you have options. Everything from built-in toys to treat dispensers and virtual vet care is on the table. Whatever makes you and your pet happy is good. After all, Fido and Fifi are equally important members of the family.