How to Use AirTag Trackers to Monitor Your Dogs or Cats

Apple AirTags can be a convenient way to keep track of your pets, but they do come with some important limitations to be aware of. Here is a comprehensive guide on using AirTags with dogs and cats.

What Are AirTags and How Do They Work?

AirTags are small Bluetooth trackers developed by Apple. They work by connecting to the Find My network, comprised of hundreds of millions of Apple devices. When your AirTag comes within Bluetooth range of a device in this network, its location is anonymously updated. You can then view your AirTag’s last known location in the Find My app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

The Find My network allows AirTags to be tracked even when they are far away from you, as long as they come near another Apple device. However, tracking relies entirely on chance encounters with strangers’ devices, so it is not as reliable as GPS for pets.

Pros of Using AirTags for Pets

Inexpensive upfront cost

  • AirTags only cost $29 each, much less than most GPS pet trackers

Long battery life

  • AirTags last over a year on a user-replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery

Small and lightweight

  • Weighing only 11 grams, AirTags won’t add much weight to collars

Good for indoor tracking

  • AirTags utilize Bluetooth and UWB technology for precise indoor tracking

Can track globally

  • Thanks to Apple’s Find My network spanning the globe

Cons of Using AirTags for Pets

Not designed for pets

  • Apple does not recommend or support using AirTags to track pets

Limited outdoor tracking

  • Relies entirely on chance encounters with stranger’s devices, unreliable in rural areas

No real-time location

  • Only updates location when in Bluetooth range of an Apple device

No activity tracking features

  • Does not track things like distance traveled or resting patterns

Pet may swallow AirTag

  • Coin cell battery poses risk if chewed open or swallowed

Can fall off collar

  • AirTags lack secure attachment methods designed for active pets

Steps to Set Up an AirTag for Your Pet

  1. Purchase AirTag(s) and accessories
    • Collar attachments, pouches, or rugged cases help secure AirTags to pet collars
  2. Update your iPhone to iOS 14.5 or later
  3. Turn on Find My, Bluetooth, and Precise Location Services on your iPhone
  4. Remove tab to activate AirTag battery and hold near iPhone to pair
  5. Name AirTag and register to your Apple ID in the Find My app
  6. Attach AirTag to your pet’s collar using a secure accessory
  7. Check Find My app to view your pet’s last known location

Tips for Using AirTags With Pets Effectively

  • Use a secure collar, pouch, or case to encase AirTag, reducing chewing/swallowing risk
  • Consider adding ID tag with your contact info in case AirTag falls off collar
  • Share your pet’s AirTag with family/friends so they can also view location
  • Occasionally check Find My app when pet is home to confirm AirTag tracking
  • Monitor battery status in Find My app and promptly replace when low
  • Keep your software updated for latest AirTag firmware and features
  • Have realistic expectations about outdoor reliability and tracking frequency
  • Do not solely rely on AirTag to locate pet in an emergency situation


When used properly, AirTags can be a useful way to monitor indoor pets and get notified if your pet slips out. However, serious pet trackers should invest in a dedicated GPS tracker for more reliable outdoor tracking. Used in combination with precautions like ID tags and microchipping, AirTags can provide additional peace of mind at a very affordable price point. Just be sure to use a secure accessory collar and check the Find My app regularly to confirm your AirTag is still tracking your pet properly.

About the Author

I have used AirTags with my own dogs for over a year. I am an avid hiker and enjoy bringing my dogs along on adventures. While AirTags have helped reassure me my dogs are still on trail, I have learned they cannot be relied on in remote areas. I now use AirTags in combination with GPS collars to ensure I can monitor my dogs on all our hikes. I hope this article helps other pet owners determine if AirTags could be useful for their pets.