The Best Pet Cameras of 2020

Monitor your pets throughout the day using your phone with these tried and tested security cameras.

By
&
Aliza VigdermanGabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Jul 21, 2020

Best Pet Camera for Night Vision

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Best Pet Camera for Video Quality

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Security cameras do more than just alert you of intruders inside your home — they can also help you to keep an eye on your pets even when you’re not home. Thanks to artificial intelligence, otherwise known as AI, some cameras can detect pets based on their weights, heights, and heat signatures, differentiating them from people and other moving objects. So, which ones are the best for pets? After testing out dozens of cameras, we’ve decided on four that are a cut above the rest when it comes to our furry friends. Let’s get right to it!

The Chosen Ones

  • Wyze Cam — Most Affordable Camera
  • Nest Cam IQ Outdoor — Best Pet Camera for Night Vision
  • Arlo Pro 3 — Best Pet Camera for Video Quality
  • Ring Stick Up Cam Battery — Best Pet Camera for Alexa

The Finest of Them All

Arlo Pro 3

With a video quality of 2560p HD and 2K HDR, the Arlo Pro 3 earned high marks for displaying live footage that was, pun intended, a sight to behold. As an indoor and outdoor camera, the Arlo Pro 3 picked up minute details such as our neighbor’s vibrant Disneyland pin on her sweater when she dropped by our apartment for a visit. We didn’t see any shadows or glare caused by passing vehicles or the sun shining through our living room windows. The Arlo Pro 3 also won our hearts with its multitude of AI features including people, pets, packages, and vehicle detection. Accessible through Arlo’s monthly subscription, Arlo Smart Home, the AI filtered our notifications by alerting us of events based on the aforementioned detections.

Arlo Pro 3
Arlo Pro 3

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

Although pricier than the other cameras on this list at $399, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is chock-full of powerful features and upgrades from the Nest Cam Outdoor such as Supersight, which zooms in once a person has been detected, 4K sensors with HDR, and a temperature range of -40 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor’s infrared night vision has 850 nm LEDs, so even if a trespasser snuck up our front door, they wouldn’t notice the camera filming them. The two-way audio with noise and echo suppression let us speak and listen to visitors through the mobile app. We once asked our friends to sing a Hamilton song for us before going in our apartment and we ended up singing along with them — as loud and clear as Broadway stars.

To put things into perspective, we live in an apartment in Brooklyn, New York, where all sorts of daily activities occur in the neighborhood — joggers circling the block, Ubers picking people up, etc. In fact, Brooklyn was reported to have more than 1,500 burglaries in 2019,1 so it goes without saying that we routinely tighten the security in our home. For testing, we set up the Arlo Pro 3 and Ring Stick Up Cam Battery inside and outside the apartment at different times. As the only indoor camera on this list, the Wyze Cam was stuck in our living room while we mounted the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor by our front door (we could also use this inside if we wanted, but we already had the Nest Cam IQ Indoor installed in our kitchen). Now that housekeeping is out of the way, let’s see how these cameras stack up against each other.

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

Side-by-Side Comparison of the Best Cameras for Pets of 2020

Wyze CamNest Cam IQ OutdoorArlo Pro 3Ring Stick Up Cam Battery
Security.org ReviewWyze Cam ReviewNest Cam IQ Outdoor ReviewArlo Pro 3 ReviewRing Stick Up Cam Battery Review
Cost$20$399$199.99 for add-on camera$100
Indoor/OutdoorIndoorOutdoorBothBoth
Video Quality1080p1080p HD with 4k HDR2560p HD with 2k HDR1080p HD
Field of View110°130°130°110°
Night VisionInfraredInfraredColor and infraredInfrared
Two-Way AudioYesYesYesYes
Smart Platform IntegrationAlexa, Google Assistant, IFTTTAlexa, Google Assistant, Philips HueAlexa, Google Assistant, Apple WatchAlexa, Google Assistant
Artificial Intelligence FeaturesSmart sound recognition for smoke/CO2 alarmsPerson detection included, familiar face alerts with Nest AwarePerson, packages, vehicles, animal detection with Arlo Smart HomeNone
Additional FeaturesCreate time-lapse videos and screenshotsNest Aware: motion detection, sound detection, dog barking alerts, person speaking alerts, familiar face alerts, activity zones, up to 30-day video cloud storageSpotlight, siren, activity zones, safety buttonsCreate privacy zones to focus on important areas, disable motion recording, alerts, and audio
Local StorageYesNoneYes, can connect USB to Arlo base station but cannot be used on its own w/o cloud recordingYes, with Ring subscription
Cloud StorageYes, 14 days free3 hours or 5, 10, or 30 days through Nest Aware subscriptionPaid options of 30 or 60 daysRing Protect subscriptions
Battery LifeN/AN/A3-6 months6-12 months, takes 5-10 hours to recharge

It’s All in the Details

  • 1. Wyze Cam — Most Affordable Camera

    Editor's Rating
    8.3
    /10
    What We Like:
    • Smart platform integrations
    • No monthly subscription
    • Local and cloud storage included
    • Inexpensive equipment
    What We Didn’t Like:
    • No 24/7 professional monitoring
    • No cellular backup
    • No wireless option
    • Only 14 days of storage

    Sound Alerts

    Receiving notifications about motion-triggered events was one thing, but the $20 Wyze Cam’s sound alerts were another method of letting us know if and when our smoke and CO2 alarms went off in the apartment. The Wyze Cam recognized the unique sound patterns of our smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors. Fortunately, there was never an instance when our smoke or CO2 alarms went off naturally. At one point, we did trigger the smoke alarm purposely by burning some bacon. The Wyze Cam registered the alarm and notified us on our phones right away. The smoke alarm is a useful feature for pet owners; when we thought about our grandparents’ Frenchie who’s unable to alert authorities about a fire, the smoke alarm would step in and save the day (and him).

    Wyze Cam and Box
    Wyze Cam and Box

    Time Lapse

    The Wyze Cam not only signifies an inexpensive price tag but also a time-lapse feature, which we haven’t seen in many other security cameras. When we tried out this feature, we decided to clean up the guest room, which had turned into an unofficial storage space, to make space for a pet crate. We moved the Wyze Cam to the guest room from the living room and set up the time duration from 10 AM to noon on the app. After we cleaned up most of the objects and furniture in the room, we whipped out our phones and checked the footage. Sure enough, the Wyze Cam had captured a clear video of us picking up items, moving furniture around, and setting up the pet crate during those two hours.

    Tip: You can schedule when the Wyze Cam turns on the time-lapse feature. This can either be later in the day, next week, or even next month.

    Complete Motion Capture

    While there aren’t any required monthly subscriptions for the Wyze Cam, Wyze does offer a paid add-on service called Complete Motion Capture. Instead of the 12-second recording restriction, the upgrade allowed the Wyze Cam to continuously record the motion-activated event. Because we had already saved so much money with the Wyze Cam, we figured that paying $1.49 per month for one camera wasn’t a bad deal at all. We recorded clips of our grandparents’ Frenchie sneezing, snoring loudly during naps, and patrolling the apartment. We shared those clips with our grandparents who enjoyed them quite a bit. The recordings were saved to the cloud for 14 days and we accessed them via the Wyze app.

  • 2. Nest Cam IQ Outdoor — Best Pet Camera for Night Vision

    Editor's Rating
    9.2
    /10
    What We Like:
    • 1080p HD with 4K HDR
    • Temperature range of -40 to 113 degrees
    • Excellent night vision
    • Person detection included
    What We Didn’t Like:
    • Expensive price tag
    • Moderately difficult installation
    • Need subscription for additional AI features
    • No local storage and or free cloud storage

    Supersight

    The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor packed a punch when it came to Supersight, an advanced feature that boasted 1080p HD quality with 4K sensors, HDR, and intelligent imaging. Not only were we able to zoom in and enhance the video 12 times on the Nest app, but we also tracked visitors and passersby thanks to the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor zeroing in and following people and their actions whenever they were in its line of sight. The camera really did feel like our third eye with Supersight, a superpower that we wish we had.

    Nest Cam IQ Outdoor
    Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

    Night Vision

    Speaking of superpowers, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor’s night vision was also a force to be reckoned with. With 850 nm infrared LED sensors, the camera illuminated even the darkest of nights without alerting intruders that they were being filmed. Although the footage was in black and white, we noticed every slight movement. Instead of keeping an eye on just our front porch, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor’s “eyesight” reached up to 50 feet away at night. We saw activities from across the street, which was super helpful in identifying suspicious cars that overstayed their welcome or strangers loitering when they shouldn’t. Nothing got past the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor!

    Nest Cam IQ Outdoor Night Vision
    Nest Cam IQ Outdoor Night Vision

    Complements Nest Ecosystem

    Like Ring, Nest has a security alarm ecosystem with several components to strengthen home protection. We’re already proud owners of several Nest products, so incorporating the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor was like a warm welcome to the Nest family, including our Nest Cam Indoor and the Nest Hello Video Doorbell. As we said, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is on the pricier side but it’s a powerful addition that unifies the Nest ecosystem. While the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor was our first line of defense, if we didn’t receive the person notification in time, the Nest Detect contact sensors would’ve gone off had someone opened a door or window, keeping our pets safe from intruders.

    Reminder: If you don’t have other Nest products to build a Nest ecosystem, don’t worry. While other security brands require a hub for the cameras to operate, Nest cameras work just fine on their own.

  • 3. Arlo Pro 3 — Best Pet Camera for Video Quality

    Editor's Rating
    9.0
    /10
    What We Like:
    • Wide range of AI detections
    • Color and infrared night vision
    • Indoor and outdoor durability
    • 2560p HD video quality
    What We Didn’t Like:
    • No free person detection
    • Limited temperature range
    • Short battery life
    • Requires the Arlo SmartHub

    Easy Wireless Setup

    Unlike the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, the Arlo Pro 3 requires the Arlo SmartHub in order for it to operate. After connecting the ethernet and power cables to the SmartHub, we downloaded the mobile app and registered the Arlo Pro 3 by following the on-screen steps. With that out of the way, we moved on to the physical aspect of the installation process and plugged the battery into the Arlo Pro 3. Because we placed the camera in and outside our apartment, we had to mount the camera in two different areas. The beauty of wireless cameras is the mounting flexibility. We secured the magnetic mount over a drilled-in screw above our front door and in the corner of our living room. The mount basically sucked in the camera, so we weren’t worried about the camera falling off. In total, it took around 10 minutes to set up.

    Arlo Pro 3
    Arlo Pro 3

    Smart Animal Detection

    The Arlo Pro 3 was rife with AI features when we signed up for their monthly subscription, Arlo Smart Home. Under this subscription, detection included people, animals, packages, and vehicles. While we don’t own any pets currently, we do dog-sit our grandparents’ Frenchie whenever they go on vacation. Their Frenchie is lazy, so the times that we dog-sat him, we rarely received notifications based on his movements in the living room. As for outside use, the Arlo Pro 3 detected animals larger than a rodent, so stray cats and birds were fair game. If we didn’t want to receive these notifications, we simply turned animal detection off.

    Note: The Arlo animal detection detects animals within 50 feet of the camera during the day and within 25 feet at night. However, if trees are obstructing your camera’s view, the camera won’t register animals’ movements.

    160 Degree Field of View

    The wider the field of view, the better. The Arlo Pro 3 exceeded our expectations in this department compared to the other security cameras on this list with a whopping 160-degree field of view. Typically, security cameras’ fields of view range are between 110 to 130 degrees, with 180 degrees being the mathematical limit (in case you were sick that day in geometry). For the Arlo Pro 3, this field of view provided a broader scope beyond our front stoop and living room; the camera not only covered these specific areas but also the areas surrounding them. For example, our kitchen is right by our living room so we knew when someone snuck into the kitchen to grab a snack for cheat day. Our grandparents’ Frenchie also had the same idea whenever we caught him sniffing for treats.

  • 4. Ring Stick Up Cam Battery — Best Pet Camera for Alexa

    Editor's Rating
    9.5
    /10
    What We Like:
    • Affordable monthly subscriptions
    • Indoor and outdoor capabilities
    • Simple setup
    • Wireless design
    What We Didn’t Like:
    • Long battery recharging duration
    • Ceiling mount sold separately
    • No person detection included
    • No cloud and local storage included

    Flexible Placement

    Some security cameras look awkward if they’re not mounted, but with the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery, we didn’t have to worry about ruining the aesthetic of our apartment. We placed the camera in our bedroom at the top of our bookshelf which was across from the door. We also made sure to angle the camera downward. Our bookshelf is white, so the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. For outside use, we mounted the camera above the back patio door. We unscrewed the base of the camera and reattached it to the back before unscrewing the mounting bracket from the base. Finally, we screwed the bracket onto the wall and slid the camera onto it, a process as smooth as butter.

    Ring Stick Up Cam
    Ring Stick Up Cam

    Budget-friendly Plans

    While the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery doesn’t outshine the Wyze Cam for being the most affordable in terms of equipment, it does offer the most budget-friendly monthly plans. Between the Ring Protect Basic and Plus plans, we chose the latter because, one, it’s only $10 per month, and two, 24/7 professional monitoring was included. Did we mention it’s for $10 per month (or $100 per year if you don’t fear commitment like us)? That’s a steal in our book since we also got cellular backup and 60 days of cloud storage. The Basic plan, on the other hand, costs $3 per month or $30 a year and also includes 60 days of cloud storage, which is a tough price to beat. For a breakdown of Ring camera plans and equipment, check out our Ring pricing page.

    Alexa and Google Assistant Integrations

    As an Amazon-owned company, Ring is, of course, compatible with Alexa. When we integrated Alexa with the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery, we made sure to name the camera “Bedroom.” Every time we issued a command such as “Alexa, show Bedroom” and “Alexa, show me the last activity from the Bedroom,” the video footage popped up on our phones on the Ring— Always Home app or our Echo Show 8. Our grandparents’ Frenchie took up most of the footage space since he loves to nap on our bed. Google Assistant was also compatible with the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery, but the only command we really utilized was “Hey Google, start recording for Bedroom.” We might be playing favorites here, but for good reason.

Our Guidelines for Choosing the Best Security Cameras for Pets

This review covers the best security cameras for pets, but a general question that probably comes to mind is, what exactly is our basis for “the best”? Technical qualities like video, audio, night vision, storage, and smart platform integrations are some starting points when we dive into testing and reviewing cameras.

Here’s a full list of what we expect from security cameras:

  • Affordable equipment and subscription prices
  • 1080p HD video
  • Two-way audio
  • Field of view of at least 120 degrees
  • Optical zoom
  • Infrared night vision
  • DIY installation or free professional installation
  • Free cloud and local storage
  • Alexa and Google Assistant integrations
  • User-friendly mobile apps
  • Person and pet detection
  • Custom motion zones

When we’re talking about pet detection, we’re also talking about AI. Person detection is more common across many security cameras, but pet detection also exists alongside package and vehicle detections. We prefer that these AI features be included with the camera, but we’ve come across a handful that requires a monthly subscription. Like we mentioned earlier, pet detection allows a camera to discern pets from humans based on weight, height, and heat signature. The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is part of the group of cameras that requires a subscription to access AI features. Once pet detection is accessible, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor can ignore pets that weigh under 40 pounds and reduce false alerts for motion-triggered activities.

Power options and IP ratings,2 which determine a camera’s weather-resistance, are other technical elements that we look into during testing. Installation is where wired or wireless options come into play. Having options is a plus in our book, but most times we don’t have a say in the matter. For wireless cameras, battery life is essential. Long-term is always better than short-term, and the shorter the recharging duration the better. We establish a one-year minimum requirement for wireless cameras’ battery life; if it’s shorter than that, the camera is not up to par. As for wired cameras, they’re more reliable and less prone to signal interference from radio, TV, or phone connections. Renters and apartment owners will find that wireless cameras are a better match simply because of the mobility in setting them up. Unlike wired cameras, hardwiring is not necessary.

Apart from all the technicalities, professional monitoring and cellular backup weigh in on our overall impressions of a security camera. We veer on the side of extra security, partly because we’re too busy to self-monitor solely, which is why 24/7 professional monitoring is our go-to when looking at monitoring plans. That means that a team of dispatchers step in if they detect any suspicious activity and give us a call to let us know, or dispatch the appropriate authorities on our behalf. As for cellular backup, this comes in to save the day when our Wi-Fi connection is lost or when the power goes out. This way, our cameras can still monitor activity, notify us, and stream live footage to their respective mobile apps.

For an extensive look at the best smart home security of 2020, check out our best security systems and best security cameras.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does pet detection work?

    Pet detection is an artificial intelligence feature that is either included in the security camera or accessible via a monthly subscription. Activating pet detection allows your camera to pick up animals’ heat signatures and their weight, differentiating them from people and other moving objects like cars.

  • Are cameras for pets worth it?

    Cameras for pets are worth it if you prefer fewer notifications and would like to keep an eye on your pet when you’re away from home. Because pet detection is often bundled with other AI features such as person and vehicle detection, signing up for a subscription is beneficial.

  • What is the best camera for pets?

    The best cameras for pets are the Wyze Cam, Nest Cam IQ Outdoor, Arlo Pro 3, and the Ring Stick Up Cam Battery.

  • Should I talk to my pet through the camera?

    While most cameras have two-way audio (speaker and microphone), it might be best to avoid talking to your pet through the camera. This might induce your pet’s anxiety, as they might try to search for you in the house and get confused.

  • What’s the difference between a camera with and without pet detection?

    The difference between a camera with and without pet detection is the latter can detect or ignore pets based on certain weight thresholds and heat signatures. Rather than picking up on every movement from your pet, a camera can ignore those movements and focus on suspicious activity caused by people, vehicles, or other moving objects.

Citations
  1. City of New York. (2020). CompStat.
    nyc.gov/assets/nypd/downloads/pdf/crime_statistics/cs-en-us-pbbs.pdf

  2. RS Components. (2020). The Comprehensive Guide To IP Ratings.
    uk.rs-online.com/web/generalDisplay.html?id=ideas-and-advice/ip-ratings