I’m not a morning person. Even worse, I work from home. Left to my own devices, "morning" can turn into "afternoon" with surprising speed. But one chirp from my parrot's covered cage and I'm up. It makes my whole day to see that cute little face looking up at me. Scientific research backs me up here. Studies show pets make us happier, healthier, more productive, and well, just better in every way. So I’m always happy to find ways to return the favor!

For apps that only offer one operating system or another, I have done my best to provide similar alternatives (in both functionality and price) wherever possible.

1. Finding Rover

This unique, free, app-based service does its level best to prevent the unthinkable from occurring. Once you register and upload your dog's photo, the app uses facial recognition technology to match lost dogs in the database with your lost pet. Even if your dog has lost his or her collar, the technology still works. You can register by email or with Facebook.

  • How you save: With other "lost pet" tracker services running around $100, finding a free service with an extensive database can set your budget at ease.

Note: Have a cat instead? Try Pet Recognition's PiP My Pet (free for iOS and Android)—the registry includes both dogs and cats and uses the same facial recognition technology.

2. iKibble

iKibble answers the critical question that can kill, "Can my dog eat this?" With hundreds of foods in the database, you can search by category, by item, or by health rating. iKibble launched as a free app and now costs $0.99—proof that the app is getting positive reviews from dog owners.

3. Map My Dog Walk

Subaru (odd, I know!) has created a helpful app that monitors how much exercise your pet is getting. You can keep a GPS log of past exercise sessions, track calories, map out new routes and more.

4. Weather Puppy

Okay, Weather Puppy is a neat app in its own right—but it gets extra marks for cuteness! You can view the weather report for up to five days and plan your pet walks around that. You can upload up to seven photos of your own pup to create a customized daily weather report, or simply enjoy the database of more than 600 puppies.

  • How you save: Start every day with a forecast of a cute puppy face rather than a grumpy-looking skyline? Priceless!

Note: You can also try Weather Dog—it's free for iOS and Android and gets high marks from users (but it's not quite as cute as Weather Puppy).

5. Doggy Datez

Everyone likes to be wanted. With Doggy Datez, you can keep up with your pet's social life (and your own). The app lets you "mark" a territory (up to a 200 mile radius) and see who else visits. You can also search for other users, set up meet and greets and make new friends.

  • How you save: This app is a real time-saver because you can see and connect with other pet owners who are already doing what you do—no more scrounging for fun play dates for you or your pet.

6. Pet Acoustics

Our standard dachshund is terrified of thunder. He has to wear something called a "thunder shirt" and even then he quakes and quivers—it’s awful to watch. I would totally pay $1.99 (and likely quite a bit more) to give him some peace…especially since we live in Texas, the steamy humid thunderstorm capital of, well, everywhere. Best of all, the app includes special music for dogs, cats, horses, birds and people! And it works to calm pets not just during storms, but during any stressful moments (car rides, vet visits, owner is away, etc.).

  • How you save: You could get the Pet Tunes personal speaker (pre-loaded with soothing music attuned to pet hearing) for $49.95 (plus shipping), or pay $1.99 for the app (you can also preview excerpts for each species online for free).

7. Petminder

Petminder gets rave reviews from users, and the app is flexible enough to keep up with multiple pets. Petminder is like your pet's personal calendar where you can log (and set alerts for) everything from walks to vet visits to play dates to grooming sessions and more. You can also access a wealth of free information to learn more about your pet's health needs.

  • How you save: A number of other apps in this genre are available—most cost between $0.99 – $4.99. This app is—amazingly—free!