Pet cameras are increasingly a must-have smart home gadget for any enthusiastic (or concerned) pet owners. Combining the technology of a home security camera with a host of pet-specific features, they are great to have in your house while you’re away — whether it’s to check in on your dog or cat during a short run to the grocery store, a day in the office or for a longer vacation away.
We spoke to three pet experts for their advice on what cameras to buy and how best to use them.
Our top picks
How we picked the best cameras
When shopping for pet cameras, we considered the following key specifications:
- Visibility. Unless you can see the feed in decent detail, a camera isn’t that useful. We narrowed our list down to models with a minimum 1080p Full HD resolution — that’s the usual resolution of a computer monitor — and included options that had night vision to ensure visibility in dark environments.
- Interactive features. Unlike more standard home security cameras, many pet cameras have interactive features like remote-controlled cameras on wheels or treat dispensers you can control via an app, to feed them while you’re away.
The best pet cameras in 2023
To narrow down the list of pet cameras on the market, we chose models that are in-line with our experts’ advice. Every camera on this list is based on expert recommendations, the Select editorial team’s experience and the writer’s personal experience trying out smart home and camera devices.
The Petcube Bites 2 Lite is a Wi-Fi-enabled pet camera that doubles as a treat dispenser. This model is a favorite of the team at NBC Select, and won a Select Best for Your Pet Award for best camera, thanks to its impressive 160-degree wide-angle view, night-vision features, and easy setup.
Design: Static camera | Dimensions: 5.7 x 3 x 10.6 inches | Resolution: 1080p Full HD | Treat dispenser: Yes | Two-way communication: Yes | Noise alerts: Yes | Motion alerts: Yes
This iOS- and Android-compatible dog camera can store up to 100 treats that you can throw via your smartphone.
It gets its “360” name from the rotating base that lets you scan the room for your pet and take photos or videos. Two-way communication also lets you speak through the speaker, and listen back with an embedded microphone. In-color night vision and an auto-tracking feature also makes it very easy to keep an eye on your pet, too.
Design: Rotating camera | Dimensions: 3.1 x 3.1 x 4.9 inches | Resolution: 1080p Full HD | Treat dispenser: Yes | Two-way communication: Yes | Noise alerts: Yes | Motion alerts: Yes
Nooie offers a range of rotating cameras, and this 1080p model gives you a 360-degree view of the room it’s in, with pan/tilt options to look up and down too. In my experience, it lets you get an expansive look around your home, and even comes with a local storage option to safely store video recordings outside of the cloud. (You’ll need to buy your own microSD card, however, to do so.)
Design: Rotating camera | Dimensions: 6.77 x 3.66 x 3.62 inches | Resolution: 1080p Full HD | Treat dispenser: No | Two-way communication: Yes | Motion and sound alerts: Yes
This camera comes recommended by Dr. Jennifer Bruns, DVM, MPVM, of PetSmart Veterinary Services, thanks to its weatherproof build for indoor or outdoor use, in-color night vision and two-way audio. “The Wyze Cam v3 Pet Camera delivers great value at its price point and is an excellent option for those looking to have a two-way communication system with their pets,” she says.
With Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, you can hook this up with existing smart home gadgets. Those who don’t want to pay for extra cloud storage can use a microSD card for local storage too.
Design: Static | Dimensions: 2.51 x 2.24 x 3.92 inches | Resolution: 1080p Full HD | Treat dispenser: No | Two-way communication: Yes | Motion and sound alerts: Yes
If you’re keen on buying a handful of cameras to place around your home, consider the Kami Mini — whose parent company, Yi Home, comes recommended by professional dog trainer and former chair of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Mark Forrest Patrick. While the Mini lacks some of the more advanced features seen in this list, its compact design and sub-$30 cost makes it a great choice if you’re looking to purchase more than one or two for your home. You’ll still get Full HD resolution alongside Alexa/Google Assistant voice control, motion detection and two-way audio too.
Design: Static | Dimensions: 3 x 3 x 5 inches | Resolution: 1080p Full HD | Treat dispenser: No | Two-way communication: Yes | Motion and sound alerts: Yes
How to shop for the best pet cameras
Wondering where to start when buying the best pet cameras? Here are three key things to keep in mind while shopping, based on recommendations from our featured experts.
- Communication features. Pet cameras can vary in the kind of communication features they offer. Look for two-way audio that lets you speak and listen through the camera or look for video feeds so your pet can see your face when you’re not home.
- Viewing angle. One camera will rarely cover your entire home, or even the entirety of the room it’s placed in. Consider the viewing angle of your camera and whether you’re getting a sufficient viewpoint for what you need; you’ll also want to consider whether multiple cameras or a rotating model is necessary to remove any blind spots from your home.
- Specific animal needs. Many pet cameras are sufficient for dogs and cats alike, though your specific pet may have different needs from a camera’s intended audience. For example, your terrier may love when you dispense treats into the air, but a kitten may feel differently, so keep in mind whether your camera actually serves the needs of your particular pet.
What is a pet camera for?
If you are prone to worrying when away from your pet, a camera might be a great option. It’ll give you easy access to watch over your animals from afar, and while those with an existing home security camera system may already have part of their home under surveillance, it may not be the same part where your pets are. For example, many people have security cameras in the entryway of their home and not in major living room spaces, and therefore you’re not going to see your dog’s interactions and activity on camera all the time, says Patrick.
Are pet cameras worth it?
Pet cameras are as much for the owner as they are for the pet — they can reduce our own fears and satisfy our curiosity, according to Cathy Madson, a canine behavior consultant and professional dog trainer with Preventive Vet. “I think some people are just curious as to what their dogs do when they’re home alone…especially for dogs who might exhibit some signs of anxiety, who recently got adopted, or rehomed — [many want to make] sure that they’re settling in well,” she says.
Bruns agrees and says that cameras can assist in measuring how long pets can handle being alone. Some also allow pet parents to interact with their animals, which can help ease symptoms of separation anxiety. For example, if you check in on your pet and find them showing destructive behavior or signs of stress, cameras that let you speak to your pets in real time can help alleviate the behavior.
Pet camera features to look for
Pet cameras come in various shapes and sizes — some are static while others rotate, or even whizz along the floor chasing your pet. When using these special features, there are a few key things to keep in mind for the health and safety of your pets, according to our experts.
Firstly, don’t overuse the two-way communication features as it can increase stress for animals with separation issues or confidence issues. “For some dogs, that actually increases anxiety because they hear you, but they can’t find you,” says Madson.
You’ll also want to use it sparingly in the case that your animals learn to ignore your verbal cues. “If you call their name [for example] and they don’t stop barking, you can’t follow through — and you don’t want a dog to learn to ignore any verbal cues,” says Madson.
She adds that rotating cameras can be good for following your pet around your space, and reducing the need for multiple cameras, but that it can also interrupt some of their normal behavior when they notice the movement.
Pet welfare: Is a pet camera enough?
Multiple experts warn against using a pet camera as a substitute for human affection and care.
“Automated functions on pet cameras are a great way to interact with your pet while you’re away, however they should not be looked at as a substitute for the attention and care only you as the pet parent can give,” says Bruns.
Pets may also need time to acclimate to the new gadget in your home: “For pets with heightened anxiety around new things, pet parents should take the time to use the camera’s functions while at home with the pet to gauge their interest and reaction to it,” she says. “Depending on their response, some pet parents may need to work on establishing a positive association through training.”
It’s also crucial to remember that pets need regular human attention that a camera can’t provide. Young puppies “are not going to be able to go six to eight hours without having to go potty somewhere,” says Patrick. Older pets, meanwhile, will need some attention and need to eat too, he says.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Cathy Madson, MA, FDM CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, is a canine behavior consultant and dog trainer at Preventive Vet.
- Dr. Jennifer Bruns, DVM, MPVM, is the vice president of business development and quality at PetSmart Veterinary Services.
- Mark Forrest Patrick is the former chair of the Association Professional Dog Trainers and a current professional dog trainer in Rochester, New York, who oversees a dog daycare, boarding and training facility.
Why trust Select?
Henry St. Leger has spent years reviewing consumer gadgets including smart TVs and projectors to smart speakers and noise-canceling headphones. They were previously a home technology writer at TechRadar and have bylines at T3, Tech Advisor, and Trusted Reviews — specializing in guiding shoppers towards the devices that pack the biggest punch for the price.