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Pets and Wearable Tech

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Wearable tech isn’t just for humans anymore. It’s become a rapidly growing opportunity for our pets too. One report predicts that wearable tech for pets will have a market share of around $2.6 billion by 2019.* What’s behind this growth and are these devices worth your consideration?

A Growing Market

The growth of this market is being driven by a few different factors. One is the accessibility of the technology needed to make it work. Many of these devices are tied into apps that run on our iPhones, Androids, or tablets, which are pretty much always in our reach these days. We are also becoming more aware and accepting of wearable tech for people, such as Fitbit, the Apple Watch, and GoPro cameras.

Another reason is that we are closer to our pets than ever before. They have truly become an integral part of our families. Along with this strong bond comes an interest in finding new ways to connect with our furry friends and give them the best lives possible, which is what many of these devices promise to do.

brindle boxer dog with a red harness and blue leash holding a stick

Pet GPS Trackers

Like wearable tech for people, a large part of this market for pets is focused on tracking location and promoting fitness. For instance, Whistle combines GPS technology with activity monitoring in a special on-collar device. It works with an app, which lets you check your pet’s location and set activity goals. You can also establish a geo-fenced area and get an alert if your pet goes outside of this zone.

While Whistle and their competitors can help you keep tabs on your pet, they should never take the place of a microchip. Microchipping is an important way to help make sure your pet is returned home safely if they ever get lost. Since it is implanted under the skin, it can’t come off or be removed like a device attached to your pet’s collar.

Pet Health Monitors

As a veterinarian, the kinds of wearable tech for pets that I find most interesting are ones that can have a substantial positive impact on a pet’s health. One such device is called PetPace, which has a Smart Bio-Sensing Collar that monitors a pet’s temperature, pulse, respiration, heart rate variability (HRV), activity level, position, and calories burned. This collar works together with a 24/7 Health Monitoring Service and an app that allows you to check on your pet anytime.

The PetPace Health Monitoring System sends notifications and alerts about changes in your pet’s vital signs directly to your smartphone. For instance, it can alert you to changes in temperature or difficulty breathing. This allows you to detect potential problems early, so you can get your pet medical care sooner, which can make a difference in the outcome.

In addition, the PetPace Health Monitoring Service can share and send data alerts to your veterinarian at the first sign of trouble. It can also provide your pet’s doctor with valuable vital signs and activity history to better identify potential health issues.

woman checking health app on smartphone Golden Retriever resting on the floor

Advantages for Pet Parents

Our pets can’t tell us what is going on with them, but PetPace can give you a better understanding of how they are feeling. For instance, it can detect a rapid heart rate, which could indicate pain, stress, or an underlying illness. PetPace can be particularly useful for older pets or those with health conditions that need close monitoring, like a heart arrhythmia or hypothyroidism.

It can also help put a first time pet parent’s mind at ease. For example, if you took your young pup out for a brisk walk on a hot day, you might be worried that the heat and activity were too much for them. You can look for visible signs of a problem, but you might still have concerns. With PetPace, you can check for early symptoms of heatstroke, like an elevated body temperature or heart rate.

Of course, a pet health monitor should never take the place of your veterinarian. However, it can be a useful tool to help you and your pet’s doctor provide your pet with the best care possible.

Benefits for Veterinary Practices

PetPace can help veterinary practices care for their pet patients by continuously monitoring their vital signs. It provides data that can be used to inform treatment plans and alert the medical team to problems that require immediate intervention. It can be useful for pets who are recovering from surgery or receiving care for an injury or illness. It also provides an easy and non-invasive way to take a pet’s temperature and check vitals during a veterinary visit. All the veterinarian has to do is put on the collar.

dog staring at orange and red tennis ball

Onboard Cameras

Unlike health monitors and location trackers, some wearable tech for pets is mostly for fun. One example of this is the GoPro Fetch, which is designed by the company who made the GoPro. GoPro Fetch has a harness and a small camera that can be mounted on your pet’s chest or back to capture different angles. While it might be interesting to see the world from your dog’s perspective, there aren’t any real benefits for your pet—unless perhaps you and your pup are looking to become YouTube celebrities.

If you use a GoPro Fetch or similar product, please keep your dog’s comfort and safety in mind. Never force your dog to wear the harness or a camera if they don’t like the idea. You should also never use the harness to walk your dog since it was not designed for this purpose. Additionally, always supervise your dog when they are wearing it since the harness or camera could slip off and cause an injury.

Whether or not any of these devices is worth the cost is up to you. One thing for sure is that wearable tech for pets is here to stay and will continue to be an interesting market to watch.

* Source: MarketWatch

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