The days of pining for your pet and resisting the urge to run home and check on it during the workday or while on vacation are over. With the Petzi Treat Cam, you can quickly check in on your furry family member and, if it's acting especially adorable, dispense a treat.

The Petzi Treat Cam isn't just a great Christmas gift and way to view your fur babies from afar; it's also a social network. You can use it with not only cats and dogs, but all pets. Once you download the companion app to a smartphone, it invites you to set up a profile for your pets. In our tests, we set up profiles for two adorable basset hounds. Filling out the profiles is a straightforward process from either a smartphone or computer. You just enter your pet's name, species and breed, gender, and age, and then upload a photo. It's a bit like signing up for a human social media account.

Once you sign up, you can follow other users to view images of their pet taken and shared with the Petzi. Worry not, though: When others follow you, all they can see are images you've shared; they are not able to view a live feed. After downloading the app and setting up an account, you are ready to plug in the Petzi. It takes about 20 minutes from when you open the box to when it's ready to use and is relatively painless.

There is no power button on this device; you just plug and go. It only turns on when you activate it from a smartphone, so there's no power drain while it's inactive. If you have rather slow internet, though, prepare for a choppy feed and delay. This also causes the occasional distorted photo. We found having the camera setting changed to night vision helped with this, but so would a faster internet connection. The delay seemed to remain no matter what; however, if you're not home with your pet, it's not that big of a deal. Just know that you may praise your dog long after it scarfs down a treat and is asleep, drooling on the couch – or, if you have a cat, long after it's completely disassembled the Petzi, eaten all the treats and taken over the world.

If you have multiple pets, prepare to be entertained. If you have multiple pets who aren't great at sharing, prepare for misadventure. Non-sharing pets may get into arguments about who gets the first treat, if not all the treats. Granted, we tested with basset hounds, which are notorious for following their noses and nothing else. So, when the Petzi dispensed a treat, one would push the other out of the way and sometimes keep their snout on the Petzi, waiting for more. Once they realized it didn't continually dispense treats, they'd go back to napping; however, it took a couple of days for them to learn this.

On average, the Petzi dispenses two treats, but occasionally it dispenses a bonus treat. This is only an issue for animals on a strict diet. We had a treat or two that didn't shoot out, but rather sat in the dispenser, leaving the dogs in drooling agony. And we really mean "shoot out." The first treat shoots out of the dispenser to a couple of feet away. Taking photos of your pet while it excitedly receives a treat is fun, but it would be even more fun if you could take not only photos, but video. Alas, you cannot, but maybe the Petzi will incorporate that feature in its next rendition.

The controls on the app are simple enough. There is a button for speaking to your pet, a camera button to snap a quick photo of it collecting its treat, a settings button and, of course, the treat button. When you open the app, it takes you to the homepage feed, where recent photos of the animals you follow are posted. From there, you just click the camera button and go to the Petzi Treat Cam. You're automatically connected to the Petzi in your home and can see a wide-angle view of the room where it's set up. The Petzi chimes when it first comes on, so eventually you'll notice a Pavlov's dog response. Some may find not being able to hear their pets a downside, but they're not verbally communicative in the first place, so it's not a huge drawback.

While hunting for the perfect gift for the animal lover on your list, keep the Petzi Treat Cam in mind. While it may seem corny to some, this treat camera can provide ease of mind and a way to see your pet when you're away from home, or just make you smile in the middle of the day.

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