Tech-savvy pet parent? You might’ve heard news of the upcoming Google AirTag alternative – and how it’s built for finding missing items like your keys, bike, or even a bag of luggage. (Similar to Tile tags, AirTags, or even the Samsung SmartTag.)

But what about pets? You might’ve come across other dog or cat parents discussing how AirTags aren’t the best options – or how they’re built for items, not animals.

(And the smart option they’re all going for: a dedicated pet GPS tracker.)

So with the upcoming Google AirTag alternative, you might wonder:

And here’s our take, as pros in the pet tracking industry: the new Google tracker tag might not be the best choice for tracking your pets and keeping them safe.

When it comes to ensuring their safety, you’re always best off with a dedicated pet GPS tracker. One that’s built for pets, pet parents, and for your peace of mind.

And here’s why.

How the upcoming Google “AirTag” might work

Much like Tile, AirTags, and Samsung SmartTags, the Google smart tag is in development to work across a distributed tracking network. (Recently launched as the the Find My Device Network.)

Here’s how this Google AirTag alternative might end up working:

  • Say you’ve attached a Google tracker tag to your keys – and then you drop them somewhere, out of sight.
  • When a fellow Android user passes by your fallen keys, your Google tracking app will pick up its last known location via Bluetooth.
  • It’ll then notify you of a rough location where your keys might be, so you can go and pick them up.
  • Once you’re close enough to your lost keys, you can trigger a beep or a tone from your device to locate them by sound.
  • Besides this, the Google smart tag – via the Find My Device Network – can notify other Android users in the vicinity that you’ve lost an item. So they can keep an eye out for it as well.
A closeup of a mobile screen showing a map with two people checking it

If you’ve used a Tile or an AirTag, you’ll have experienced how the Tile Network notifies you when a fellow Tile user passes by your lost item (with the Tile tag attached.) Similarly for AirTags or Samsung SmartTags. All three of these are Bluetooth trackers which operate on a range of around 30-400 feet (9-120 meters).

⚠️ On average, most lost pets wander anywhere between 2-5 miles1 before they’re reported missing.2 Just to give you a heads up on why a GPS tracker with unlimited range is such a lifesaver.

Is the Google smart tag going to be a GPS tracker?

Nope. Like we’ve mentioned, the upcoming Google “AirTag” is planned to be built on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). (Along with some ultra wideband, or UWB, technology thrown in for good measure.) 

  • It’ll also come with a built-in speaker to help you locate your missing tag (attached to your lost items) audibly.
  • It’s also going to rely on the Find My Device Network to notify other Android users about your lost item – so they can keep an eye out for it too.

Which, like we cover a bit further below, might be better for personal items. Aka, if you’re thinking of attaching it to an item like your backpack, bike, or keys.

⚠️ But not the best choice if you’re considering using it for your pet. (Hint: pet thieves who might pick up on your lost pet from the Find My Device Network.)

A man standing next to a dog in a city, holding the lash

Will the Google smart tag track in real-time?

It might – but we’re not 100% sure. And if so, only under 700 feet (or 200 meters) – pretty standard for UWB devices. And even then, UWB technology works best only over super short distances. (Usually between 3-164 feet/1-50 meters.) So a decent option for locating objects within a limited range.

⚠️ AirTags likewise use a combination of Bluetooth and UWB for tracking. And nope, they can’t track in real-time either.

Which is why the upcoming Google tracker tag might not be the best option if the “object” you’re searching for is a missing, constantly moving pet.

Tracking your pet in real-time over an unlimited range can make all the difference when it comes to finding them safe. Like, for example, if they’re stolen by pet thieves – or have run off into the woods or wilderness.

A puppy lost in the woods

Take the story of Kathy the Beagle, who was hard at work at her hunting dog training – with her dad nearby, tracking her position in real-time with Tractive’s LIVE Mode.

  • Suddenly, he noticed her speed sharply picking up – indicating she’d been dognapped and was now in a car, being driven away by pet thieves.
  • Tracking her position with LIVE Mode, he immediately called the police – and after a two-hour car chase, she was back in his arms, safe and sound.

Track Your Pet In Real-Time

The potential pros & perks of a Google AirTag alternative

Now we don’t mean to downplay the perks of Bluetooth-powered trackers either. They do come with their pros – and the Google AirTag alternative might just include these:

  • Lightweight design. Much like other Bluetooth trackers, the upcoming Google smart tag is likely to be sleek, compact, and durable in design. Making it easy to attach to a keychain, bag strap, or other easy to lose personal items.
  • Good battery life. Bluetooth trackers in general tend to sacrifice range and real-time tracking capabilities in favor of low-energy device compatibility. The new Google smart tag is rumored to include a battery life that can last for months up to a year.
Bluetooth tracker key finder
  • Accurate tracking. The new tracker is likely to include UWB functionalities that can help it track stationary objects at very close distances. So again, sacrificing range for pinpoint accuracy.
  • Device compatibility. The new Google AirTag alternative is expected to integrate with the Google ecosystem, including the Google Find My Device network.
  • Water resistance. Most Bluetooth devices come with some degree of water resistance and can be submerged up to a point. (And for a limited duration.) Besides, the new Google AirTag alternative is also rumored to be dust-resistant to better withstand the outdoors.

Other possible features of the upcoming Google smart tag

Along with these basic features, it’s rumored that the new tracker might include built-in augmented reality features.

💡Aka, similar to AR features offered by the Tractive GPS. (Where you can use your smartphone to visualize the location of your missing pets in the real world environment.)

So you can find your lost dog or cat, for example, with a pin as an overlay pointing you to them.

Pictured here is Tractive’s built-in AR mode, available when you’re tracking your pets in LIVE:

Tractive's Augmented Reality features

It’s also expected that the Google AirTag alternative will enable users to customize their tracking range. So users can adjust the distance at which it alerts them when they move too far away from a missing item…

…much like Tractive’s Virtual Fence feature – where you can customize the size and shape of your “safe zone.” (And get an immediate notification once your dog or cat has stepped out of it.)

Tractive GPS Virtual fence shapes

💡 Besides real-time tracking over an unlimited range, Tractive GPS trackers are also 100% waterproof. So you can go for a swim or a walk in the rain with your pet – stress-free.

How a dedicated pet GPS tracker means 100% peace of mind

GPS trackers are a giant in the pet tracking industry. With all the reasons why dogs run away or cats wander away from home, a dedicated pet tracker like Tractive can help you ensure their safety…

Wherever your pets roam – and in real-time

Easily our biggest perk, your Tractive GPS enables you to track your pets in real-time – and over an unlimited range. All you need is a device with cell coverage. (So that your pet’s tracker picks up GPS signals from satellites around the world to help you track them in real-time.)

A cat wearing the Tractive GPS tracker wandering outdoors

⚠️ On the other hand, most Bluetooth trackers come with highly limited range and aren’t able to track in real-time. The upcoming Google AirTag alternative’s UWB tech only means real-time tracking if your pet doesn’t tend to stray past your bedroom door.

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Track your pets even while on vacation

With its built-in SIM card, your Tractive device connects to mobile networks across 175 countries. Which means GPS satellites around the world end up helping you keep an eye on your pet – no matter where you are (or where they are.)

Which, yes, also means a monthly fee for your subscription. (That’s priced lower than your monthly Netflix account.)

A Border Collie wearing a Tractive GPS tracker sitting by a mountainside

Do GPS trackers without SIM cards or subscriptions exist? They do. Known as GPS loggers, these typically record simple location data or coordinates to give you a rough picture of where your pets might be roaming. (You’ll have to be something of an expert in reading maps and geographic coordinates for most of them too.)

⚠️ Do these kinds of GPS trackers help you track your pet in real-time and across an unlimited range? They don’t.

Which, in an emergency (like if your dog or cat has been kidnapped) can make all the difference between finding your pet safe and sound – or never seeing them again.

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Monitor your pets’ movements – indoors & outdoors

Think a GPS tracker like Tractive only uses…well, GPS? Think again. Your Tractive GPS actually includes Bluetooth features like Radar Mode and even Augmented Reality to help you track your pet at close range. (Like if they’re indoors or in areas with poor cell coverage.)

orange cat with green eyes looking upwards close up on face, grass in background

And if they try to escape outdoors, you can always set up a Virtual Fenceor a “safe zone” which alerts you immediately when your dog or cat is trying to sneak past it.

Aka, a smart, humane, affordable alternative to setting up a physical fence or using aversive training techniques like invisible fences or e-collars that rely on static shocks.

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Set Up A Virtual Fence

Track your pet on the brightest days & darkest nights

Fan of evening runs or jogs? It can be a ton of fun bringing your dog along with you – especially if they’re an active, high-energy breed. Or given how active cats tend to be around twilight and dawn, it’s more likely you’ll find them itching to explore around these times. (When it’s dark outdoors.)

So with Tractive’s Light feature, you can easily locate your pet by triggering a small LED light on their tracker. Helping you find them visually. (Especially useful for dark-furred pets – or the winter months when everything’s pitch black by 4 pm.)

A cat wearing a Tractive GPS tracker walking through a forest

Or if you’re out together on a sunny day, you can also locate your pet by sound instead. Tractive’s Sound feature triggers a high-pitched melody that can help you locate your pet audibly.

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Take an active role in your pet’s health 

The Tractive GPS goes beyond just being a pet location “tracker”. Rather, it’s our goal to help pet parents holistically manage their pet’s safety. Which also means tracking their health and wellbeing.

And that’s why your Tractive device also includes:

Dog running with tennis ball in mouth in the grass, Tractive GPS app in foreground
  • Health alerts. From your pet’s long-term activity and sleep data, your Tractive device builds a clear picture of what’s “normal” for them. So if there’s a sudden, sharp change in your dog’s active minutes or your cat’s sleep quality, your tracker sends you an alert. Meaning you can get your pet to a vet for a preventative checkup much in advance. (And avoid an expensive and thoroughly avoidable medical emergency down the line.)
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(Which, when you think about it, includes literally every single feature you’ll find on a Bluetooth tracker – and even more.)

More importantly, a dedicated pet GPS tracker is actually built for pets – and for your peace of mind. It’s why pet parents around the world are relying on Tractive’s lifesaving technology to track their pets, keep them healthy – and live a longer, happier life together.

Pretty big shoes to fill, if you ask us. Which is why, again, the new Google AirTag alternative might not be the best choice when it comes to ensuring max safety for your dog or cat.

Read more: Tractive reviews on Trustpilot

Why the Google tracker tag might not be the best choice for pets

A Bluetooth-powered Google smart tag is a great choice for locating your missing keys on a busy morning. For your pets? Not so much. And here are a couple of reasons why.

You’re stuck to a network of devices

Remember how your Google smart tag (attached to your keys) might only sound off once another Android user passes by? Great. Now imagine losing your dog or cat when out on a run in the woods or hiking in the mountains.

In these situations, your chances of running into another Android user might be limited. Making a tracking device that’s limited to a “finder network” pretty useless in these cases. (And probably wishing you’d decided on a staycation instead rather than yelling yourself hoarse trying to call back your missing dog or cat.)

Read more: Why A Find My Device Network Isn’t Built For Pets

A lost dog poster on a streetlamp by a forest

⚠️ Besides, relying on a network of fellow device users always opens up the risk that a potential pet thief might run across your dog or cat.

Which doesn’t seem worth the risk, considering up to 2 million pets in the US alone get kidnapped every year.1

On the other hand, a GPS tracker that connects to satellites and your device doesn’t need any network of devices to update your tracker’s position.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Ivelin-150x150.png

Much like the AirTag, your Tractive GPS tracker can use a short range radio to help determine your pet’s location. But unlike the AirTag, Tractive also uses mobile connectivity and GPS.

So even if your tracker is nowhere near another mobile device, it’ll still be able to send data to the Tractive servers. So you can quickly and easily see your pet’s location in the app.

– Ivelin Nenkov, Embedded Systems Engineer at Tractive since 2016

⚠️ Your personal items aren’t about to run off any time soon. Your pets, on the other hand…

Which is why it just makes more sense to attach the Google “Air Tag” to your suitcase or backpack instead. These items aren’t likely to:

For dogs and cats who tend to run or wander off for all sorts of reasons, your best bet is attaching a GPS tracker to their collar. And then sitting back and letting it do the work for you – tracking them in real-time and helping you keep them safe.

Read more:

You’re limited to a range the size of a neighborhood block

A missing pair of keys or luggage isn’t likely to make a trip around the block. You’re just more likely to find them where you remember seeing them last. (Or at a Lost and Found office.)

Which, unfortunately, doesn’t quite apply to pets – and just how far they’re capable of wandering when the mood strikes them.

For example:

  • Cats wander around 2-4 miles (3-6 km) away before someone notices they’re missing.
  • Even small dogs can run off up to a half mile (~1 km) – simply because they’re bored. 
  • Bigger dogs can cover even longer distances – up to 5 miles/8 km! This is even more so the case if you’ve got a dog breed that’s just built for running.
A cat running in the snow

Still think a UWB range of 700 feet (200 meters) is enough for a dog or cat? Rather, you’ll have to sit around waiting and hoping they enter within this range again – so that the Google tracker tag can pick up on their location.

⚠️ The average cat can run anywhere between 20-25 miles (32-40 km) per hour. Dogs at 15-20 miles (24-32 km) per hour. Usain Bolt clocks in at 27 miles (43 km) per hour on a good day. In case you were wondering whether chasing down a running dog or cat is a good idea.

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A Google tracker tag likely isn’t going to be built with pets in mind

Now if we’re going by other, similar Bluetooth trackers, our guess is that the Google “AirTag” is going to be built to dangle off a keychain or bag strap. (Where it’s unlikely to fall off.)

Which, again, doesn’t make it a great choice for a pet collar. 

Because, unfortunately,

Which is why it’s always a better idea to use:

  • Safety clips to secure a tracker to your pet’s collar.
  • A breakaway safety collar that adjusts to your pet’s movements.
  • A soft pouch you can fit your tracker into and attach to your pet’s collar.
A cat wearing a Tractive GPS collar sitting outdoors

💡 All three of which are available with Tractive devices.

In fact, the Tractive CAT MINI comes accompanied with a weight-adjustable Rogz safety collar – for cats of all shapes and sizes.

While, on the other hand, the Tractive DOG XL Adventure edition comes with bite-proof fiberglass reinforced casing for even the most rough and tumble adventures.

Tractive pet monitoring GPS tracker

Always know where your pets are

Follow every step in real-time with unlimited range. Get alerts if they wander too far. Keep them happy & healthy with Wellness Monitoring. And let others – like walkers or sitters – keep an eye on your pet too.

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Can the Google Find My Device app work as a pet tracker?

In a nutshell: no, this is another roundabout way of staying on top of your pet’s safety when other, simpler solutions exist. (Like a dedicated pet GPS tracker.) But here’s how this might hypothetically work.

You might’ve used the Google tracking app “Find My Device” to keep track of your phone or tablet. So you might’ve considered – why not connect your Tile or SmartTag to the Find My Device network…and track your pets with it? That brings in some GPS benefits, doesn’t it?

A mobile phone on a table showcasing the Google Suite apps

Which, well, yes, could theoretically work. When you enable your Location Accuracy settings, your Google Find My Device app uses GPS, WiFi, and mobile networks to help you locate an object more accurately.

  • When you link a phone (or item tracker) to the Google Find My Device app, you can just search for them by going to the Google search bar and typing “Find my device.”
  • This will take you to the Find My Device page, which lists the devices you’ve paired. (Like, say, a Tile tag.) It’ll also show you how much battery the device has remaining.
  • Using Google Maps, you can then find your device based on its last known location.
  • If you’ve paired a Bluetooth device with the Google Find My Device app, you can tap on it via its specific app to trigger a beep or a tone. (So you can locate it audibly.)

The Google Find My Device app is compatible with Tile trackers – and, with a bit of tinkering, Samsung SmartTags as well. (Though much more limited than Samsung’s SmartThings Find network.) But it’s not an option if you’re a fan of AirTags, since the two aren’t compatible.

Now if you ask us, this whole process might work as an emergency locator. (Might.) But it’s still a tedious, multistep process that might just take you more time, effort, and energy than if you invested in a dedicated pet GPS tracker instead.

Because, at the end of the day…

Your pets need a pet tracker – not an item-finder

With a dedicated pet GPS tracker, there’s no need to connect a billion devices or engage in any elaborate, roundabout solution to find them.

Just set up your tracker, connect it to your device – and let the thousands of satellites around our planet help keep your buddy safe when they’re off wandering.

Simple, straightforward, and specifically built for your peace of mind as a pet parent.

Here’s a super quick distinction between the upcoming Google “AirTag” and a dedicated pet tracker like the Tractive GPS.

Google AirTag alternativeTractive GPS
Powered byBluetooth, UWBGPS, Wifi, Mobile networks
RangeLikely 700 feet/200 metersUnlimited
CostUnknown$49.99 + a monthly fee lower than your Netflix subscription
Water durabilityWater resistant100% Waterproof (IPX7-standard)
Device compatibilityAndroidAndroid, Samsung, iOS
Last known coordinatesLikelygreen check mark
Real-time trackingLimited to 164 feet (50 m)green check mark
Worldwide coveragered xgreen check mark
Escape alertsred xgreen check mark
Health alertsred xgreen check mark
Activity trackingred xgreen check mark
Sleep trackingred xgreen check mark
Virtual fencered xgreen check mark
Location Historyred xgreen check mark
Cattery owner and trainer, Clair Chesterman

“Tractive is the #1 cat GPS tracker in the industry. And it’s the highest quality cat tracker you can find. I was able to set the safe zone as my house area and once my cat gets outside I get an alert right away.

In fact, it probably saved my cat’s life that time she chased a bird and got lost. She was scared and I was able to find her with the help of the GPS tracker. Tractive’s chip frequently calculates your cat’s location and is updated on the map every 2-3 seconds. Furthermore, the LED will help you guard your furry friend at night..”

– Clair Chesterman, Owner of CFA and CCA-registered cattery and fostering company, FluffyMeowPaws

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Wrapping up: Pick a solution that’s built for pets & pet parents first

While the Google AirTag alternative isn’t even out yet, it’s always a smart idea to stay informed. So you know what to expect once you see it popping up on your Amazon feed.

Because while it might seem like the new shiny object on the market – it likely isn’t the best choice for tracking down your missing dog or cat.

And here’s why:

  • Limited range. The Google smart tag is planned to run on Bluetooth/UWB technology. Which means you can only track in real-time up till around 700 feet (200 meters.) Aka, way too limited a range for the average runaway dog or cat.
  • Risky crowdfinding. You’ll also be limited to a network of devices, or the Finder Network. Which can be pretty useless if you lose your pet while out on a hike. Or if you’re in a city, there’s always the risk a pet thief might kidnap your dog or cat.
  • Complexity. You theoretically can connect a Bluetooth tracker like a Tile or Samsung SmartTag to the Google Find My Device app to track it. But this is a pretty roundabout solution and might only be best as a last resort. (Plus it’s not an option for AirTags.)

💡Rather, a dedicated pet GPS tracker means 100% peace of mind for you as a pet parent. And even more so, if you invest in one that’s saved the lives of pets around the world.

A woman cuddling with a cat indoors

Track Your Pets With Tractive

Curious how the Tractive GPS works? Here’s everything you need to know about our life saving piece of tech – in under 2 minutes.

Know a fellow tech-savvy dog or cat parent? Share this post with them – and let’s help build a safer, kinder world for our furry friends together.