Will monitoring your dog's fitness electronically help lead to healthier pooches, or send owners barking up the wrong tree?
When Steve Pelletier rescued Jack, the lovable labrador retriever was overweight.
That's something Steve, who is in the business of canine food and fitness with two wellness websites for dogs, wanted to work on right away.
He put Jack on a diet and exercise regimen, and even outfitted the pooch with a tracker. It collects data about Jack's daily movement and sends it right to the internet.
"It's helped us not just check out activity levels, but also monitor things like sleeping patterns and scratching patterns," says Pelletier.
This new breed of wearable tech devices lets owners keep track of fido's habits and behavior and alerts them to potential problems.
"Pet owners really want to do right by their pets in terms of their health, they want the best diet, they want the best care. And the wearable technology kind of layers into that mindset," says Kristen Levine.
Pet industry expert Kristen Levine uses an activity tracker on her dog Chilly, and says many pet parents want to take care of their dogs the same way they take care of themselves.
"I think this will appeal to people who like technology themselves, appreciate the functionality it offers," says Levine.
That functionality will go beyond activity tracking in some cases, with products designed to monitor heart and respiratory rates, calories burned, temperature and even control food dispensers.
Veterinarian Steven Budsberg of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says pet wellness technology can provide owners some insight about their pet's health, but not necessarily the full picture.
"You can start to get an idea of where they're moving, for behavioral issues, you know activity levels that may or may not be related to disease process or pain. But they are indirect measures, they don't tell you exactly what's going on," says Dr. Budsberg.
And the professor of animal surgery is not convinced our furry friends need their own wellness trackers.
"I think the risks are simply overwhelming people with information and with data which really is meaningless. People over-diagnosing or overreacting to data about their pet, and vice-versa, under-reacting," says Dr. Budsberg.
As for Steve, he says the tracker has helped improve Jack's health, and he is happy about the wearable tech trend spreading to another species.
"We were able to notice that Jack was scratching a lot more than normal and it turns out he had a food allergy. As technology moves from the human body to the pet body, I think that we all ultimately can benefit," says Pelletier.
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