Home automation makes your life easier, your home more secure, and your time more manageable. For those of us who’ve long wished we could be in two places at once, home automation is the magic formula we were waiting for—and now it can even make life better for your pets. No matter what animal friends you adore, home automation helps you take care of them and keep them living the lifestyle they deserve.
If you haven’t thought of how to use home automation beyond brewing a fresh cup of joe every morning, here’s everything you need to know to make your smart home devices create a pet-friendly utopia. And best of all—you won’t have to do much more than lift a finger.
Keeping your home at the optimal temperature for your pet can be tricky, especially if you have a feathered or finned friend with specific needs. You never have to worry about things getting too chilly or too hot with a smart thermostat. Whether you’re at the office or on vacation, smart thermostats give you instant control of your home’s ambient temperature. Most come with an app that you can manage from your smartphone or other mobile device, and some even learn your habits and adapt settings to your routines and preferences.
We like the Nest Learning Thermostat for its combination of sensors and manual programming options. Built-in sensors monitor when you or your pets are in a room and automatically adjust the temperature to your usual preference. This means you can keep your furry friends comfortable as they move from room to room throughout the day. Even if you have pets that stay put in a cage or aquarium, you can remotely check on the temperature and manually adjust it on your mobile device to keep them safe and comfortable all day long. The Nest Learning Thermostat sells for around $250.
A more affordable pick is the ecobee3 lite, which starts at about $170. One of the best things about this smart thermostat is how compatible it is with other smart devices. If you’re looking to integrate your home automation, this thermostat will work with almost every major smart hub. The ecobee3 also monitors local weather and makes auto adjustments to keep your pet comfortable if clouds unexpectedly roll in.
When you can’t be home with your pet, keeping an eye on them remotely is the next best thing. Most home automation and security systems can incorporate cameras, which are the perfect way to make sure Fido stays out of trouble when you’re not there. In addition to checking in, some pet-oriented cameras allow for interaction so you can talk to your pet and let them know you love them when you have to stay late at the office.
The Furbo Dog Camera not only lets you chat with your pooch, but also rewards their attention with a yummy treat. This camera includes bark notifications and night vision, which make it easy to check in after the sun goes down. Furbo sells for around $200 and requires a solid Wi-Fi signal. One thing we don’t love is that sometimes your pet may end up with a mouthful of treats instead of just one.
We also love the Petcube camera, priced at about $150. In addition to taking a peek at what your pet is up to, you can make sure they don’t put on extra pounds by engaging them with the ingenious laser toy. All you have to do is swipe your finger across your mobile device, and the laser responds at home to give your furry friend some much-needed exercise. The app also allows you to add friends and family so everyone can take a turn playing with your pet throughout the day.
Automated lighting is one of the easiest ways to dip your toe into the home automation pool, and it’s a nice way to enhance your pet’s quality of life. Lights that can be programmed or remotely controlled via a wireless device make sure you don’t keep your furry friends in the dark when you’re away. It also helps you cut down on energy costs because you no longer have to leave a light on all day. If you combine motion sensors and smart lighting, your pet can have illumination everywhere they wander in your home.
Philips is a smart lighting leader, and its Hue Starter Kit is an affordable and easy way to upgrade your home’s lighting. For around $70, the kit includes two smart LED lightbulbs and a bridge that provides central control for your smart lighting setup. The bridge lets you access and control your lights through the free Philips Hue app, which can be used on any mobile device. If your pet is afraid of the dark, Hue will make sure they’re never nervous after sundown again.
Another option—which doesn’t require a hub or bridge—is C by GE lighting. All you need to control these lightbulbs is Bluetooth access. You can program them to follow the natural patterns of the sun. They’ll bathe your pets in warm, comforting light before bed and provide more vibrant, bright light to get them moving in the morning. You can get two bulbs for about $40, and they’re rated to last up to twenty years.
Nothing is more important than your pet’s safety, and motion sensors help make sure your pets don’t wander into trouble. Whether you’re asleep, in another room, or at the office, motion sensors alert you when your pet goes out of bounds. In addition to keeping your home and loved ones safe from intrusion, you can set motion sensors to monitor pets in individual rooms or when they’re playing in the yard. You can even add pressure sensors to furniture you don’t want Fluffy lounging on. And if you have a kitty, consider adding a motion sensor near the litter box that triggers a room deodorizer when activated.
If you want to keep your pets off certain furniture, the PetSafe Scat Mat is around $50 and the perfect training tool. This mat uses sensors to detect when your pet treads in a forbidden area, and notifies you of the intrusion even if you’re not at home. The mat emits a mild electric pulse to deter your pet from coming back. You have control of the strength of the pulse and can discontinue use as soon as your daily reports let you know your animal is staying away.
You won’t have to worry about your pet setting off false security alarms with the Bosch TriTech Motion Detector. This affordable motion sensor is under $35 and can be programmed to ignore your pets as they roam throughout the house. While installation is pretty simple, this sensor does need to connect to a central security control panel.
Smart Home Hubs
This is where all your home automation technology comes together. A hub lets you control all the smart devices in your home from one central location. What this means for your pet is that you can keep them in the ideal environment whether you’re in the next room or across town. A smart hub allows you to turn up the lights when the sun sets, lower the shades to block glaring afternoon sun, control the temperature, and turn on some smooth jazz or doggy TV to keep your pet company when you’re out for the night.
When purchasing a smart home hub, look for one that includes compatibility with smart devices you already own, a user-friendly app or other remote interface, and the ability to grow and customize as you expand your home’s smart gadgets.
If you have only a few smart devices, like a thermostat and smartbulb, then you can start with the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. These hubs act as digital assistants, use voice control, and are great starter hubs for those just getting into home automation. The Echo, which can cover a larger area, will set you back about $180, or you can start smaller with the Echo Dot for just $50.
For those with a lot of smart devices, the Samsung SmartThings hub is one of the most versatile, affordable options. We’ve already reviewed this product, which can connect wirelessly to a wide variety of smart gadgets. It is budget friendly, too, at around $80. This hub is a great way to give your smart home a central brain that can keep you—and your pets—comfortable, safe, and pampered.
Taking care of your pet is a top priority. Thanks to home automation, you no longer have to do it alone. Check out the pet-friendly smart home solutions we’ve recommended, and learn more about how home automation can make your life—and your pet’s—better than ever.
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more