Health Technology for Your Pet

Health Technology for Pets
Health Technology for Pets. meshaphoto / Getty Images

Pets have an important place in our lives. There are about 70 million dogs in the United States, and more than one in three households own at least one dog or cat. Pet ownership brings us a number of emotional, physical and social benefits, but it also creates responsibility. Responsible pet owners often worry for their animal’s health general and well-being.

Health conscious pet owners have been able to apply the principles of health technology to their pets for some time now.

There are numerous fitness trackers and health-monitoring devices on the market that are developed specifically for animals, especially dogs. If your furry friend is overweight, suffers from a heart condition, or you just worry how he or she is managing while you are away, chances are there is health technology already available that can help you manage your concerns. The emergence of animal-orientated digital health products is also paving the way for new, exciting startups. Innovations and science from other industries are being applied to the pet-care sector for the benefit of our furry friends.

Smart Bow Ties and Collars

Obesity is not just a global human problem. It appears that animals living with humans suffer from the consequences of modern lifestyle, too. It has been estimated that over 50 percent of dogs in the United States are either obese or overweight, which presents a serious risk factor for many chronic animal diseases (diseases that decrease the life span of our pets).

Boosting your pet’s activity level is often the first step toward improving their health and increasing their life expectancy. Moreover, a growing body of research shows that individuals who engage in dog walking naturally increase their daily physical activity. Additional reported benefits are better relaxation and social interactions.

There are several activity monitors available on the market today to help your pet stay active. Wonderwoof is one example. The device comes in the form of a stylish bow tie that monitors activity in real time and provides the animal’s caregiver feedback. Updates from the device are sent to a free mobile application, which allows the user to monitor the animal’s activity and find out if he or she is sleeping, walking, running or playing.

Equipped with this knowledge, users can establish if their dogs are getting sufficient exercise based on their size, age, and breed. Similar to human activity trackers, Wonderwoof creates individual fitness goals and encourages activity on lazy days or gives praise when activity levels are within the desired range. Fitbark is a similar product to Wonderwoof and also acts as a pet activity monitor and sleep tracker.

Voyce band goes a step further. This wearable device not only tracks your pet’s activity, but it also includes sensors for resting heart rate and respiratory rate. It also monitors the quality of your pet’s sleep, which can be an important indicator of health and well-being. In addition, it tracks your animal’s activity, distance traveled, and expended calories, so that you can actively work toward your pet’s health goals.

Voyce fits like a collar. The device is lightweight and waterproof, so your animal can wear it like any other collar. The pet’s owner creates an online profile for his or her animal, and the band will collect data and send it to the user’s profile. The accompanying application calculates the dog’s trends and gives the owner (and their veterinarian) insights into the dog’s general condition. Voyce is designed to help identify some common health conditions, such as heart disease and respiratory problems. Your pet’s data summary can be printed out or accessed remotely, which eases communication with your veterinarian.

Colorful Insights into Cat Health

Innovations are also being launched in the area of feline health. Pretty Litter is an interesting product, designed to monitor cat health by focusing on their litter tray. This new litter formula reacts with the cat’s waste, changing the color of sand. Different colors can indicate the presence of different health issues, such as urinary tract infections and liver disease, and alert the owner if there is a problem before the symptoms even appear. The designers of Pretty Litter suggest that if your cat’s litter is any other color than golden yellow or olive green, you might need to bring your animal in to see the veterinarian. Blue, for example, could indicate kidney problems, and orange is suggestive of liver issues or pancreatitis.

Chatting With Your Pet While Away

Through the use of technology, you can now interact with your pets throughout the day. Whether you miss them or just want to check if they are doing okay in your absence, Skype-like options are being developed for animal lovers that go beyond simple voice and image exchange.

PetChatz, for instance, allows you to see and talk to your animal, as well as remotely dispense tasty snacks and scents that are familiar to your dog. The device needs to be connected to your home’s Wi-Fi, after which you can log in to the company’s website or use an app on your mobile device to communicate with your animal. There is also a new accessory that gives you the option of your pet calling you. According to the designers, the paw-shaped light on the call button blinks, which makes it possible for your furry friend to initiate the call.  

Innovations in Vet-Owner Communication

Mobile online technology is now used in many places to deal with pet health issues and its use is increasing sharply. Many clinics now send out digital reminders to pet owners about pet vaccinations and appointment reminders, as well as provide instructions regarding diets and medication regimen. This type of real-time communication comes with its perks that benefit pet owners, their pets and veterinarians alike. Also, it usually increases client loyalty, which in turn helps veterinarians with their business.

Telemedicine for veterinarian visits now exists, too. VetOnDemand is an example of a telehealth application that can be used for video consultations with a licensed veterinarian. The severity of your pet’s symptoms can sometimes be assessed with the help of mobile technology without the need of going into a veterinarian clinic.

A report on innovation in pet care compiled by the Health for Animals and Oxford Analytica also noted that many clinics and research facilities in the United States now share their data. Uploading health information on animals to a central data bank allows for better cooperation between different veterinarian hospitals (for instance, helps establish the prevalence of certain diseases). It has been recognized that in some instances, the use of health information systems is more advanced in animal care than in human medicine.   

Promoting Human Health Through Animal Health Technology

Household pets are not the only animal users of smart technology and sensors; equipment can be adapted to fit different farm animals as well. Non-invasive smart sensors can be attached to livestock to track different health parameters, including their physiology, stress levels, and general welfare. Furthermore, these new and novel methods provide information on the origins of the animals and help with food safety. Ingestible transmitters have also been used with cattle and pigs to continuously measure their body temperature.

In many ways, the health of the animals that surround us influences our own health. Experts suggest that there should be more collaboration between human and animal health professionals. The development of the vaccine for cervical cancer in humans, which built on previous studies of the DNA of the papilloma virus in cattle and horses, is a good example of such collaboration. Several alliances have been forged recently between human and animal medicine. For instance, the World Veterinary Association now works more closely with the World Medical Organization. As digital health progresses, these collaborations will undoubtedly benefit and increase.


American Pet Products Association. 2015-2016 APPA National Pet Owners Survey. Greenwich, CT: American Pet Products Association; 2015./p>

Busse M, Schwerdtner W, Bokelmann W, et al. Analysis of animal monitoring technologies in Germany from an innovation system perspective. Agricultural Systems. September 1, 2015;138:55-65./p>

Christian H, Bauman A, Epping JN, et al. Encouraging dog walking for health promotion and disease prevention. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016; 1-11. doi: 10.1177/1559827616643686

Eigenberg R, Brown-Brandl T, Nienaber J. Sensors for dynamic physiological measurements. Computers And Electronics in Agriculture [serial online]. January 1, 2008;62 (Precision Livestock Farming (PLF):41-47.

World Veterinary Organization. Innovation in animal health. Published January 2016. 

Continue Reading