How do pet trackers work? Can you use an air tag instead?

An adventurous pet that travels further afield, such as a rural cat, may not be very well served by a Bluetooth tracker, as their effective range is usually limited to about 200 feet. These trackers are easy to pair with an app, but as always with Bluetooth, the limited distance between paired devices limits compatibility.

Other pet trackers use satellites in combination with cell signals. The GPS device beams your pet’s location via satellite and to your smart device, revealing the location of your furry companion. Such trackers using satellite technology (and possibly Wi-Fi as well) have a much greater range. The problem is that the results are only available through standard coverage: in January 2023, Statista. reported that T-Mobile’s 54% US 5G share was the largest in the country, indicating the fact that consistent GPS signals can be difficult to come by. If your connection is also spotty, you won’t get accurate results. With trackers like this, precision is important.

Some pet trackers also use radio frequency. In these cases a different pair of devices is paired: a small label and a remote tracker. By holding the latter, the user is directed to their pet by readings, which will be reinforced when pointing to the pet’s label. In busy neighborhoods and the like, though, signal will be limited, and the lack of a handy map app to show your pet’s location is a huge disadvantage.

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