Where’s My Pet? Ask Technology

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Technology for pets isn’t new. Embedded computer chips have been used for years to help identify missing pets and, more recently, trackers that monitor a pet’s location have become available.

The latest innovations in technology for pets are in the area of high-tech wearables that track health and fitness. They provide owners with important data about their pets as well as peace of mind, which means they soon could become a universally accepted part of pet ownership. Keep reading for an overview of some of the top emerging pet wearables.

FitBark 2
Like a Fitbit for humans, the FitBark measures various types of physical activity, including exercise time, calories burned and sleep. It’s designed specifically for canines and consists of a waterproof monitor housed in a compact bone-shaped clip that attaches to any dog collar. The monitor’s battery life is up to six months. An associated free app, available on smartphones and over the Internet, lets you set activity goals and watch your pet’s progress. You can make your dog your fitness buddy by linking a Fitbit, Apple Watch or other tracking device to the FitBark and monitoring your dog’s activity compared to your own. The app produces reports that help you review long-term trends in your pet’s health, watch specific health conditions, such as recovery from surgery, and update your pet’s veterinarian. In addition, you can compare your dog’s health picture with other dogs of the same breed. Since the FitBark has no GPS capability, no additional subscription is required for GPS connectivity. This makes the FitBark one of the most economical pet wearables and one of the easiest to use.

Whistle 3
The small, rectangular Whistle device that clips to your pet’s collar combines a GPS tracker with an activity monitor. It’s marketed for both dogs and cats. Through the Whistle mobile app, you can set up one or more GPS safe places, such as your home, vacation home or pet sitter’s home, and sign up to get an email or a text message if your pet wanders away. The mobile app also lets you monitor your pet’s daily activity and rest and keep track of food and medications. You can set custom activity goals and get notified about changes to activity or sleep. If you wonder where your pet has been in the past 24 hours, the app will give you a map of steps taken, up to 3,000 miles away. Nationwide location tracking is provided via advanced GPS and cellular technology rather than Bluetooth, which means a subscription plan for cellular connectivity is required.

Link AKC
The Link AKC Smart Dog Collar consists of a leather dog collar with a detachable tracking unit. If preferred, the tracking unit can be removed and attached to any standard dog collar. The unit includes an LED light that helps make your dog visible at night and a sound alert to help with training; each of these unique features can be controlled with the free Link AKC app. Besides monitoring activity, the collar provides GPS tracking and supports three GPS safe zones for your dog’s location. It tracks the air temperature in your dog’s environment and lets you know when it’s too hot or cold. The app also lets you store vet records, set appointment reminders and create virtual scrapbooks of adventures you have with your pet using GPS data and your photos. Like a smartphone, the Link AKC device requires its own service plan for connectivity. It comes with a base station for recharging the tracking unit.

The PetPace health monitoring system is one of the most health-centric devices for dogs and cats. The monitoring device, which is attached to a special collar that comes in three sizes, tracks a pet’s temperature, pulse, respiration and heart rate as well as activities and calories burned. Besides the collar and tracking device, the PetPace System comes with a data collection base station that communicates with the collar throughout the day and will notify you and your vet if a health problem arises. This notification feature makes the PetPace a good choice for elderly pets and pets with serious health conditions; animals with stress and anxiety-related conditions will also benefit. A variety of annual subscription plans are available, priced according to the level of monitoring desired. The associated app provides a dashboard display of your pet’s data, allowing you to track health trends and daily progress.

These products represent first and second generation wearables for pets. Given the rapid advances in wearables for people, pet owners can expect new and more advanced devices for pets to be introduced in the near future. The winners are our dogs and cats, since tracking their health and fitness will help us make healthier choices on their behalf. ■

Sources: caninejournal.com, dogsaholic.com, petpace.com, wareable.com and amazon.com.