Is your dog a tad chubby and short on exercise? Want to find out if your pup is itchier than usual or seems dehydrated? New, activity-tracking pet technology, similar to gadgets made for humans, is giving pet owners a deep dive into the health and well-being of their furry family members.
These wearable devices can track a dog's location, even if Rover jumps in the lake, and can help you pinpoint Fluffy's calorie count or track her steps, just like the Fitbits and other activity trackers many pet owners use for themselves.
Ken Irwin, 63, became a believer after his German shepherd, Rearden, escaped the yard while in hot pursuit of a deer. Irwin and his wife searched around their 16-acre property outside Atlanta by car and eventually found Rearden, but Irwin wanted to ensure his pet would never go missing again. “You really get religion when that happens,” he says.
Soon after, an ad for Whistle, a location tracker for pets, flashed across his computer screen. Five years and several upgraded versions later, Irwin has become an ardent evangelist of pet-tracking technology.
Good for dogs and owners
Canine-friendly wearable technologies can do more than just locate. They monitor activity in dogs, including exercise, but also things like licking, scratching and how much water they drink. These data points are often presented through a smartphone app with a user-friendly dashboard that in some cases lets owners compare achievements, canine versus canine, to see which pup achieves the most daily steps.
And they're not just good for dogs. A study by the University of Haifa found that dog activity trackers have a positive impact not only on the animal's physical and mental health, but on their humans, too. Researchers found these devices increase owners’ motivation to boost their own physical activity with their canines while reinforcing the human-dog bond and gaining a better awareness of pets’ needs.