Whether it's staying plugged in via mobile devices or tracking activity with wearable electronics, consumers are always chasing the latest way to stay connected.
And while humans have plenty of social networks, apps and gadgets, a growing number of entrepreneurs are betting that the same sorts of technology will be big business in the pet market, which is expected to reach $62 billion this year.
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"Pet technology is still well below the radar screen, but it has huge upside potential," said Scott Miller, CEO of Dragon Innovations, a consulting firm that works with start-ups and entrepreneurs to get their products made. "The pet industry is totally old school. ... It's ripe for disruption. It's still pretty early in the trend, but ... there will be a big uptick in the next year."
One area gaining traction in the pet industry: wearable activity trackers.
"Think of it as a Nike FuelBand for your dog," said Arie Abecassis, a data scientist at FitBark, a New York-based start-up that makes an activity tracker for dogs. "People are getting into the wearable trend ... and we think it's only a matter of time on the pet side as well."
The FitBark device attaches to a collar and collects data on the dog's activity levels throughout the day. The data syncs to the FitBark application, so owners can check in whenever they want.
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FitBark launched on Kickstarter at the end of July and reached its goal in just 27 hours. The product has had strong international response, with people drawn to it partly because it gives them a sense of always being connected to their companion animal, according to FitBark co-founder Michael Chiang.
But monitoring devices like FitBark can also serve as a form of preventive health care.