Pet Health Monitoring in a Digital World
With wearable technology becoming more common in human healthcare, it’s no surprise that it’s also emerging in veterinary care. Popular pet products include collars and collar accessories like Whistle, Fi, FitBark, Link, and Petpuls. Connecting via a smartphone app, they have an array of functions, from GPS tracking to monitoring activity, sleep, health-related behaviors and even emotional states. As they evolve, these products become lighter and include more features.
Wearable technology for pets started trending during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Kirsten Oliver, VN, ADVN, CVT, CCRP, CVPP, VTS, because that’s when we started to “using digital technology to connect us with the rest of the world”. Now that things are back to normal, “people want to know what their pets are doing at home,” she said. dvm360® in an interview.
“Let’s face it, whether it’s on an app or…on our phone, we want it,” Oliver said, explaining that wearable technology lets pet owners know when their fur babies need to go to the vet. and helps clinicians assess the animal. If a client says their dog has been pacing for the past 5 nights, for example, “that is an indication of pain. What can we do? And what kind of diagnostics can we run?… It takes the guesswork out a bit. It’s good information to start with,” she said.
Fear Free founder Marty Becker, DVM, said dvm360® that wearable technology helps veterinarians make a diagnosis. “You can tell why an animal is wet at a certain time or detect if an animal is lame,” he said.
Oliver also said it was great to see innovative products designed to benefit animals. They’re great monitoring tools for cats and dogs with chronic conditions, she noted, and come in handy when owners
are away because they can log in to keep an eye on their pets. There are also clinical devices like MeasureON! and PainTrace. MeasureON! measures temperature, cardiac electrical signals, heart and respiratory rates and activity levels, and PainTrace measures chronic and acute pain levels and is particularly useful in veterinary rehabilitation, Oliver said. Becker pointed out that these tools are transforming veterinary care. They are extremely accurate and can check an animal’s vital signs while they sleep. This is important because, according to Becker, “when you sleep, you heal faster.”
While wearable technology has many benefits, it’s expensive and can lead to “helicopter-based pet farming,” Oliver said. “You do not want [clients] check… vital signs every 5 minutes and think, ‘Has his heart rate changed by 2 beats? Should I take him to the vet? »
She suggested doctors tell pet owners what’s normal and abnormal so they know when a trip to the vet is needed. For his part, Becker noted that wearable technology often indicates whether a concern is legitimate.
What do these devices have in store? According to Oliver, the sky is the limit. Today’s digital kids will become tomorrow’s digital adults and will want this kind of gear. On the veterinary side, Becker expressed hope that current students will learn to use wearable technology the same way he learned to use a stethoscope and his eyes, ears and sense of smell to diagnose disease. Such knowledge will not only help them when they come into practice, but will also enable them to advance pet care.