Pet owners can’t always account for indoor cats skedaddling outdoors or dogs hightailing it away from the dog walker. A GPS tracker attached to your pet’s collar can reunite you if they do escape into the unknown. The Whistle Go Explore is the one GPS tracker we’d trust because it’s the most accurate pet tracker we tested, the app is easy to use, and the device is small enough to affix to any collar.
But a good GPS tracker can cost over $100 and requires a $100-a-year subscription—which may tempt you to try more-affordable Bluetooth trackers, like Tile and Apple tags. These cost just $25 to $30, and if they’re good enough to find a lost wallet, why not a lost pet? But their limited range, lower accuracy, and restricted ecosystems mean they’re useful only in very specific situations.
Although a GPS pet tracker doesn’t guarantee you’ll find your lost cat or dog, the Whistle Go Explore does give you the best chance of doing so. It’s easy to use, as accurate as any GPS tracker can be, and light and small enough that most pets, even toy dogs, won’t be weighed down by it. The Whistle Go is also durable enough to survive your pup’s roughhousing at the dog park. But like most collars we tested, this device’s GPS accuracy can be finicky when service is spotty, relaying locations that are more general than precise. It also costs around $100 a year, and the battery lasts only about three days in “lost pet mode,” so you’d need to find your escaped pet quickly.
Who this is for
A GPS pet tracker, like most emergency gear, is something you hope you never have to use. The device uses an embedded GPS transponder as well as cellular data signals to communicate your pet’s location to you. If your pet escapes, you’ll receive a notification via an app, have the ability to track their location in real time, and hopefully be safely reunited. You might also like a pet tracker if you have an outdoor pet (a cat, most likely) and you’d prefer to keep tabs on their adventures throughout the day.
Because these trackers use GPS, they are much more accurate than Bluetooth trackers. The latter communicate their location only if they’re within Bluetooth range of your phone or within range of someone else using the same app.
Some of these trackers also monitor your pet’s activity, much like a fitness tracker a person might wear. That’s a fine feature to have, and it’s something you may find useful, but we focused our testing solely on location tracking.