Fitness trackers have become quite popular over the past decade. Fitbits, smart phones, and smart watch trackers allow us to monitor our daily health data: the number of steps taken, the calories burned, and the total distance we’ve traveled. Some track our sleep patterns and will even remind us to stand up when we’ve been sitting for too long!
As wearable tech evolves for people, it is also evolving for pets! Collar systems and attachable sensors allow us to track our pets’ activity, location, and even health parameters such as heart rate, respiration rate, and temperature!
Not all wearable tech for pets is built the same way. Some activity trackers operate using simple 2 or 3-axis accelerometers (think step counters), while others combine more complex accelerometers with GPS, increasing the accuracy of movements and providing a pinpoint location, especially helpful if your pet becomes separated from you. Others have biosensors allowing you and your veterinarian to identify and monitor health conditions!
When it comes to choosing a fitness tracker for your pet, you really need to consider what your objectives are. Are you curious about how much exercise your pet is really getting? Are you concerned about changes in your pet’s health as he ages? Do you want to increase your pet’s activity, knowing his weight has become a problem?
Your veterinarian can you help you determine which fitness tracker might benefit the health of your pet. The following are just a few of the fitness trackers available.
FitBark. FitBark is a sensor that attaches to your pet’s collar and uses an accelerometer to track your pet’s activity. The sensor can track rest, active, and play times; distance traveled; and calories burned. Because each pet is unique, and exercise needs vary between breeds and age, FitBark provides you with data on dogs of similar age, weight, and breeds around the globe. This allows you to compare your dog’s activity to that of dogs similar to yours to ensure an activity level goal that makes sense for your dog. You can track your dog’s progress by viewing historical data. Fitbark identifies how long a dog spends resting, moving about, or changing positions at night. Changes in sleep habits can indicate illness or pain alerting you that your pet may need veterinary care – early diagnosis and treatment is important for many conditions, including injuries and arthritis.
Whistle 3. Whistle 3 is a sensor that attaches to your pet’s collar and uses an accelerometer and satellite systems (GPS and GLONASS) to track your pet’s activity and location. Whistle 3 will even send you alerts if your pet escapes from his “safe place” – a “geo-fenced” area that you can set-up to keep track of you pet wherever your pet may be (at your home, cottage, doggie daycare, or while visiting family). Whistle 3 also tracks your pet’s rest and will send you alerts if his sleep or activity patterns change.
PetPace. PetPace is a collar system that not only tracks your pet’s activity, but also tracks pulse, temperature, heart rate variations, respiration rate, and calories consumed and burned. PetPace has an integrated health monitoring service that analyzes data collected from the collar and sends alerts to both you and your veterinarian if problems are detected. Three levels of monitoring are available to you, depending on your pet’s needs.
Vetrax. Vetrax is a sensor that attaches to your pet’s collar and is only available through your veterinarian. Vetrax uses an accelerometer with sophisticated algorithms to detect specific behaviors such as shaking, scratching, walking, running, resting, and sleeping. Your veterinarian can use this information to detect changes in your pet’s behavior that are related to certain conditions, such as skin problems, injuries, and arthritis. It also allows your veterinarian to better supervise a weight management program in overweight or obese pets.
While we can’t be with our furry friends all the time or ask them how they slept, new wearable technology allows us to “check-in” and monitor their health-related behaviors. With this technology, subtle changes in behavior can be detected early on and treatment started much sooner than would normally be the case.
Note: Not all pet trackers are available in all regions, as some use specific data coverage plans, have monthly or yearly subscription plans, and are only available in certain countries.