It's no secret people love their pets, but what often isn't talked about is just how much pet parents are willing to spend on their fur babies.
The pet industry surpassed $66 billion last year, according to data from the American Pet Products Assn., and a growing chunk of that market came from emerging pet technology. "What started out as simple gadgets like light up collars have now evolved to high-quality GPS collars and wearable health-monitoring devices," said Tierra Bonaldi, an APPA spokeswoman.
"We have seen more and more traditional human companies get involved in pet products because they see to what lengths pet owners will go to pamper and care for their pets."
The chief executive of Petcube, a company that makes interactive pet cameras, is betting that in five years' time, half of the country's pet population will be Internet connected to their owners via cameras, smart collars or other wearable tech.
"People love their pets like they love their kids," Yaroslav Azhnyuk said. "Our research shows that people who have pets want to be very connected with them, because they love them unconditionally."
Azhnyuk expects the pet tech market to grow in three main categories: cameras, trackers and feeders.
Here's just a few of the fun tech gadgets you can get for your pet:
Working late and can't get home to feed the dog or car? Petnet's dispenser doles out just the right amount with a couple of clicks in an app. $149. Petnet.io
Who needs a treat?
If not being able to give your pet treats while you're at work breaks your heart, the Petcube Bites is the gadget for you. You can interact using the camera, like Skype or FaceTime, and even fling treats, Angry Birds-style. $249. Petcube.com
Another entry from the folks at Petcube: Play lets you watch with a camera and use a laser to drive your cat crazy while you're away. $199.
This is for all those obsessed with getting the perfect picture of their pet for Instagram. Flexy Paw catches the attention of your pet with an arm that holds a treat — and extends above your smartphone — giving you plenty of time to snap a picture that isn't just a blur. $19.99. Pawchamps.com
Go fetch yourself
GoBone is perfect for super active pups and their less active owners. This bone can play all day, and you can control it all through an app. $199. Mygobone.com
‘Your cat is on Line 2’
This isn't just a camera. PetChatz HD gives you two-way video chat, the ability to hand out treats and doses of aromatherapy. There's even a button that allows your pet to initiate the call. (Training for button-use not included.) $379.99. Petchatz.com
For people who hate bending over to clean the litter box, the Scoop Free Original Self-Cleaning Litter Box is the perfect tech item. A mechanical rake and disposable trays do all the work. $139. store.petsafe.net
A fetch machine!
If your dog's love of fetch gives you a sore throwing arm, this fetch machine from GoDogGo is the perfect fix. Starting at $139.99. Godoggoinc.com
A four-legged fitness tracker
The FitBark Dog Activity and Sleep monitor goes on the dog's collar so you can keep tabs on their activity levels. $69.95. www.fitbark.com
Kittie says what?!?
Do you think communicating with your cat in plain English is futile? Well, there's an app for that. From maker Electric French Fries comes the Human-to-Cat Translator app. It's mostly for entertainment and doesn't claim to render perfect translations. But giving it a shot anyway won't hurt. The app is free on the Apple and Google Play stores.
Let’s go for a walk
The Wag! app gives you on-demand access to dog walkers near you. The app is free on the Apple and Google Play stores but comes with in-app purchases for walks.
A closer look
Tailio is a health tracker that looks at your cat's waste. By monitoring trends in the litter box, Tailio says it can help detect changes that might reveal early signs of common health issues in your cat. It looks like a scale that goes under the litter box. $199. www.tailio.com