AirTag For Dog Tracking: What You Need To Know

30 May 2023

Considering using an Apple AirTag to track your dog? Find out how effective the Apple’s item finder is at tracking and finding lost dogs in this post.

Nobody wants to lose their furry best friend. Yet dogs run away all the time for different reasons. That’s why pet parents around the world are using GPS dog collars to track their canine friends. With the release of Apple’s latest item finder, AirTag, many want to know – how effective is the Apple AirTag for dog tracking? Can an AirTag help you find your lost dog?

While AirTag has some advantages over traditional GPS trackers – like it’s low price tag and long battery life – it’s not recommended for tracking dogs.

Discover everything you need to know about using AirTags for dogs in this post.

The rise of GPS trackers for dogs

Many dog parents think that a microchip or ID tag are enough to help them find their lost dog. While both of these are valuable in their own way – they don’t actively help you find a missing pet.

Instead, you need to wait until someone finds your dog, and in the case of a microchip, scans it, and contacts you regarding your lost pet. That’s a lot of waiting time when you’re worried about your four-legged friend.

Thankfully there’s another option: GPS trackers for dogs. The benefit of a dog tracker is that you can see your dog’s location updated on an app on your phone in real-time. Not to mention, most work globally (thanks to the G in GPS) wherever there is cell coverage.

So not only do GPS dog trackers help you find a lost dog immediately – but they can actually prevent lost dogs in the first place. A win-win for pet parents looking for peace of mind.

Tractive is a popular manufacturer of GPS trackers for dogs and cats. Note: AirTag is not a GPS dog tracker.

packaging of the Tractive GPS DOG tracker

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So what are Apple AirTags, and can they work as a GPS for dogs?

What is an Apple AirTag?

Apple’s AirTag is a tiny item-tracking device which was made to help users locate easy-to-lose personal items such as keys, bags or wallets. It was released by Apple in 2021.

The small, round tag contains a replaceable battery, built-in speaker, and Bluetooth, as well as Apple’s U1 chip. It’s compatible with iOS devices and allows you to keep track of items in the Find My app.

The AirTag has a diameter of 1.26 inches and a height of 8 millimeters. It weighs 11 grams. A single AirTag is available on Apple’s website for $29, or you can purchase them in a 4 pack for $99.

Apple AirTag is the ideal solution for finding your lost keys, for example, in a busy downtown coffee shop. Or finding your jacket when you’re leaving a house party full of people with iPhones.

airtag and accessories on a wooden table

How do AirTags work for dogs?

Many dog parents and Apple users consider using AirTags on their dog’s collar in hopes that it will help them find their beloved pet, should they ever they go missing. Here’s a look at how AirTags work in general, and how they could be used to track dogs.

How AirTags work

  1. AirTags send out a Bluetooth signal.
  2. The signal gets picked up by compatible Apple devices within range.
  3. Those devices then send their location data along with the AirTag’s identifying data to Apple servers.
  4. The AirTag owner can log into the Find My app to view the AirTag’s approximate location.

Using AirTag for dogs

To use AirTag to track dogs, connect the AirTag to your Apple device and attach it to your dog’s collar or harness. When you need to locate your dog, open the Find My app to view your dog’s location. If necessary, you can “Ping” the AirTag – it will make a sound that helps you find it.

If your dog runs too far away, they won’t be in your range anymore. In that case you can activate “Lost Mode” to get notified if your dog is near another Apple user. Other people can tap the AirTag to see your contact information and get in touch with you.

woman sitting on yellow chair with a dog and iphone

Apple AirTag Range: How far can an AirTag track a dog?

Unfortunately, Apple hasn’t released any information on the official tracking range of AirTags

AirTags use Bluetooth and Ultra Wideband technology, which have an effective range of about 10-25 meters1. Apple devices within that range of your AirTag should be able to pick up and report its location.

However, keep in mind that the actual tracking range of AirTag depends on how many Apple devices are nearby.

If you lose your dog in a crowded area full of other iPhone users, range probably won’t be an issue. However if your dog escapes in a more rural area – you’re more likely to have trouble tracking your dog with an AirTag. In some areas, AirTag might be completely unreachable.

The bottom line: AirTags have a limited range, unlike popular GPS trackers for dogs which use GPS and mobile data to help you locate your dog over any distance. 

Why doesn’t Apple market AirTag for dogs?

Apple does not recommend using AirTag for tracking dogs. In fact, the tech giant has repeatedly stated that AirTag is meant for tracking items, not pets or people. So for now, tracking your dog with an AirTag is considered off-label use.

There are a few theories as to why Apple does not support AirTag’s use for tracking dogs. Most likely, Apple does not want to be held responsible or liable to people who have trouble finding their dog with AirTags. And it makes sense: they didn’t create the product for the purpose of tracking dogs, so they don’t want people to rely on it for that end.

So if you decide to track your dog with AirTag, keep in mind that it might not work as expected.

Benefits of using AirTags for dog tracking

If you’re already an Apple user and a dog parent, you might love the idea of using AirTag to keep tabs on your furry friend. After all, it’s a convenient, affordable, and easy way to have a second pair of eyes on your dog at all times.

Here are a few of the benefits of using AirTags to track your dog:

  • Price – AirTags are cheap at $29 apiece, and they don’t require a monthly subscription.
  • Battery Life – The replaceable battery of an AirTag lasts about a year, so you never need to worry about charging it.
  • Size – AirTags are small and lightweight, so they won’t bother your dog.

Besides that, AirTags can be engraved, and they’re water- and dust-resistant.

Downsides of using AirTags for dog tracking

There are several important downsides of AirTags for dogs to consider.

  • AirTags don’t work everywhere – in a city they might work great, but won’t be helpful in areas with no Apple users.
  • Swallow hazard – AirTags can easily be damaged and even swallowed by your furry friend.
  • AirTags aren’t dog trackers – they were made for tracking objects, not your curious canine.

Let’s take a look at each of these downsides in detail.

AirTags don’t work everywhere

Using AirTag for dogs, despite the advantages, has one major downside we can’t ignore. AirTags rely on a network of other Apple devices nearby in order to work. So if there aren’t any iOS devices within it’s range, your AirTag’s position won’t be reported.

In other words, if your dog could escape somewhere where there are no Apple devices around, AirTag should not be relied on for finding your furry friend.

Swallow hazard: The danger of using AirTags for dog tracking

A recent report in the Wall Street Journal highlights another potential danger of using AirTags on dogs: the risk of being chewed or swallowed.

At only 1.26 inches in diameter, AirTags can easily be swallowed by medium or large dogs. In some cases, a dog may be able to throw up or pass an intact AirTag. But other times, surgery may be required. If the AirTag comes apart, it’s even more serious. The battery inside could cause damage to the dog’s mouth or stomach and could even lead to poisoning.

For this reason, if a dog swallows an Apple AirTag – it needs to come out as quickly as possible2.  Because of this hazard, vets have warned dog parents against using AirTags for dog tracking.

If you do use an Apple AirTag on your dog, secure it to the collar flush so that your dog can’t chew it. Avoid hanging the AirTag from the collar where it could be chewed off by your canine buddy or another dog.

AirTags are not GPS dog trackers

Lastly, AirTags and GPS dog trackers are not created equally. Since AirTag was built for tracking items, not living beings, it’s missing a lot of pet-friendly features that GPS dog trackers have built-in. And it may not be able to stand up to your dog’s rough-housing, since it wasn’t designed for this purpose.

dog running through water outdoors

Reasons to use a GPS dog tracker over AirTag for dogs

When it comes to tracking your dog and keeping them safe, experts agree that it’s better to use a GPS dog tracker than an Apple AirTag. 

Dedicated GPS dog trackers were made for tracking pets, so they comes loaded with tons of pet-friendly features. Not only that, but they use GPS, mobile and other technologies to help ensure you can find your dog nearly anywhere, anytime. And over any distance.

Here are some of the pawsome, peace-of-mind features that you can enjoy with the Tractive GPS Dog Tracker (not available on AirTag):

  • LIVE Mode: Find your furry friend in real-time with location updates every 2-3 seconds.
  • Unlimited Range: Track your dog or cat from anywhere in the world, no matter how far away you are.
  • Virtual Fence: Set a Safe Zone – like your garden – and get an alert if your pet leaves the area. Use No Go Zone to mark areas that aren’t safe for your dog (and get alerted if they go there too).
  • Location History: See where your buddy has been in the last 365 days.
  • Find Mode: Pinpoint your buddy’s location in close range. Great for locating your cat or dog inside the house.
  • Family Sharing: Let friends, family, walkers and pet-sitters track your cat or dog with you.
  • Wellness Monitoring: See how active they are, monitor sleep patterns, spot health issues early and set goals to help keep your four-legged friend in shape.
  • Power Saving Zones: Save on battery life in places where your buddy spends lots of time.

Moreover, GPS trackers are compatible with both Android and iOS devices, making them suitable for nearly every pet parent.

man and woman and dog wearing GPS tracker outside posing

Should I AirTag or microchip my dog?

When it comes to AirTagging vs microchipping your dog, it’s important to keep in mind that an AirTag is not a substitute for a dog microchip. AirTags can fall off, get lost or swallowed, whereas microchips are implanted under the skin. So a microchip is an important permanent solution to keeping your dog safe. Vets recommend microchipping your dog, whereas they generally don’t recommend AirTags for dogs.

Conclusion: Can I use Apple AirTag on my dog?

Technically yes, you can put an Apple AirTag on your dog’s collar. The tiny item tracker from Apple may help you locate your dog in some situations. Because of their small size and price tag, AirTags might seem like the perfect dog tracking option for Apple users.

But using AirTag for dogs has some downsides. They could easily be swallowed and may require surgery. And since AirTags were made for tracking items, not pets, they’re less reliable than GPS dog trackers. They don’t work everywhere and they’re missing many pet-friendly features.

GPS dog trackers were designed for tracking and keeping your furry friend safe. So if you want to be able to find your dog anytime and get peace of mind – invest in a proper GPS tracker for dogs like Tractive GPS.

You can learn more about using AirTags for dogs in the video below.

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