Safe & Sound: Products to protect your pets and keep them comfortable

Consumer Reports’ testers weigh in what works best for cats and dogs

We want to help you keep your pets safe and sound. We want to help you protect them from danger, but we also want to give you expert advice to help keep them comfy and cozy at home. (Provided by Consumer Reports)

We want to help you keep your pets safe and sound. We want to help you protect them from danger, but we also want to give you expert advice to help keep them comfy and cozy at home. That’s where Consumer Reports comes in.

Find your pets when they go missing

Having a pet run off can be nerve-wracking.

“The longer he was gone the more worried I got,” said cat owner Jacob Markert.

When the Markerts’ family cat, Gromit, dashed out the door one night, they didn’t think much of it since Gromit is an inside and outside cat.

“He ended up being gone for three weeks!” said Katie Markert.

Now, Gromit is sporting an electronic tracking device. It keeps a 24/7 running tab on his whereabouts using a combination of GPS and cellular signals.

GPS-equipped pet trackers come with claims that they can quickly reunite you with a frisky friend. So, Consumer Reports put them to the test to see how easy they are to use, set up, and, of course, how well they track your precious pet.

“You create a safe zone, on a map, on your smartphone app and every time the dog leaves that zone, it alerts you on your smartphone,” said Consumer Reports Editor Scott Medintz.

And for some real-life testing, Medintz spent several weeks using the devices to track his dog, Luna.

GPS-equipped pet trackers come with claims that they can quickly reunite you with a frisky friend. So, Consumer Reports put them to the test to see how easy they are to use, set up, and, of course, how well they track your precious pet.

“So far she’s never run away for a long period of time, but if she did, I know that I’d be able to figure out where she is,” he said.

NEW PET OWNERS: Essentials to buy

Consumer Reports says it’s best to choose a device that uses both GPS and cellular service. This means you’ll be paying for the cost of the device plus a subscription plan. But that extra cost is worth it for the extra tracking range it allows.

And many trackers also offer a “lost mode” or “live mode” feature -- updating the location more frequently if your pet happens to wander out of the safe zone.

The top-scoring Tractive GPS Dog LTE offers the best pricing out of all the devices Consumer Reports tested.

It’s also light enough to use on your cat. The cost for the first year is $134 ($50 for the device and $84 per year for service).

Consumer Reports says that no matter which tracker you choose, get comfortable with the device and practice tracking your pet before there’s an emergency. You don’t want to be figuring out how to use an app while also frantically searching for your pet.

Make your pets comfortable & happy

Whether you’re a dog or cat lover, your pet is a part of your family, which means you want them to be as happy and comfortable as possible.

When Angela Lashbrook, a Consumer Reports reporter, adopted her dog Gordo, she got him a simple thin, flat dog bed and thought that’d be enough. But she says Gordo just wasn’t having it.

“Gordo basically refused to sleep on the bed we got him,” said Lashbrook. “He preferred my reading chair or the couch or our bed. It wasn’t until a friend admonished us for his cheap bed, that we finally invested and got him something a little nicer.”

RELATED: Should you buy pet insurance?

The investment was well worth it because Gordo loves his new bed and is now a much happier pup.

If you have an older dog, beds made of egg crate foam or memory foam can really help ease those achy joints. (Provided by Consumer Reports)

And Consumer Reports experts say, just like us, our pets need a comfortable place to sleep -- especially since they spend an average of 50% of their day sleeping and another 30% just loafing around.

“A high-quality dog bed is a great option to give your dog a place to sleep and chill out, especially if you have a dog who is older and maybe has joint issues,” Lashbrook said.

DOG BEDS: How to find the best

If you have an older dog, beds made of egg crate foam or memory foam can really help ease those achy joints.

If you have a new puppy in the house, a dog bed that’s chew-proof and waterproof may be your best bet.

We love cats, too

Now attention cat owners: Consumer Reports has some advice for you, too.

We want to help you make sure your pets feel right at home. Consumer Investigator Lauren Verno shows us some must-haves to make your dog or cat comfortable and happy.

“Cat trees are a great way to check off a lot of boxes for your cat’s needs. It provides a comfy sleeping area for them, a scratching post, and cats love being elevated, so it gives them a nice perch,” said Laura Murphy with Consumer Reports.

CAT TREES: How to pick the right one

Cats have their own personal preferences, just like we do, so choose the cat tree that fits your cat best.


About the Authors:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.