“Fitbits for dogs and cats”
At the start of the New Year, many people pay more attention to personal fitness, and “Fitbit” type watches that monitor activity are now popular.
In the animal world, activity monitors are new on the market, as collar devices worn around the neck. They are water resistant, with long lasting, rechargeable batteries, syncing automatically with smartphones via wifi or Bluetooth
These innovative products are used for more than just record-keeping of distances covered. There are six main aspects to their use.
- They monitor physical activity, letting you know how much exercise is being carried out, including walking, running, playing and sleeping.
- Some products measure physiological parameters, including heart rate and body temperature. These can be useful for monitoring specific issues in pets, such as seizures, pregnancy (predicting the timing of whelping), pain relief after operations or in pets with arthritis, skin disease (measuring how often a pet itches themselves) and others.
- You can set activity goals.
- Automatic notifications can be set up on your smart phone, with reminders for medication, fluid intake, meal times and more.
- Some monitors use GPS location tracking, making it easier to measure distances, and keeping a record of the location of the animal. In a world where people worry about losing pets (or having them stolen), this can be very useful.
- Finally, if you know other people with similar devices for their pets, you can benchmark yourself with a friend.
There are many different activity monitors now available and it can be difficult to choose which is best. If you’re considering getting one, it’s worth taking time to read online reviews of the various features of each product. There isn’t yet a clear market leader: each has strengths and weaknesses.
Here are five of the popular ones.
1. Fitbark – €70 – no monthly fee
This gives you an individualised activity/time breakdown for your pet. It allows you to see your dog’s progress compared to other dogs of the same breed, lets you share your dog’s activity report with your vet, and you can compare your personal activity level with that of your dog by linking your fitness tracker to FitBark. It’s waterproof and can be recharged without removing it from the collar.
2. Pitpat – €50 – no monthly fee
This device has similar functionality to the Fitbark, but instead of being rechargeable, the battery lasts for over a year.
3. Petpace – €150 plus €10 per month
This is a comprehensive health monitor, tracking vital parameters such as temperature, pulse, respiration, activity, calories and posture, notifying you of any abnormalities. The data can also be accessed by your vet to keep your animal in fine health. The woven colour fabric looks similar to traditional pet collars.
4. KippyVita – €170 plus €30 per year after year one.
As well as monitoring activity including location, this device tells you where your pet is at any time, via an inbuilt GPS/ SIM card. You can set a virtual geo fence so that if your pet moves out of a predetermined area (eg your garden) you get sent an alert.
The app allows you to see where your pet is, on an iPad or smartphone. You can either do this in “real time”, or you can select a history to see where your pet has been for the past hour, day, week or month.
5. Pawtrack – from €50 to over €100
This is a location tracker for cats, which allows you to see the precise location of your pet at any time of day. As technology advances, these products are getting smaller and more efficient: perhaps one day they’ll be reduced to the size of an implantable microchip. The various versions are available at different prices, from €50 to over €100, with extra monthly costs for subscriptions or SIM cards, depending on the product.
Activity monitors for pets are definitely here to stay: if you are interested in any of the above, simply Google the name of the product and you’ll easily find the product website along with an online store.
Questions from listeners
- My Labrador has a yeast infection. What should I do?
- My 12 year old Labrador has a nasty red rash & is losing hair , we been to the vet, bloods done and all clear but it’s there 3 months now – what could it be? John
- Do dogs have nightmares?! My six year old bitch scratched to be let out at 2am over Christmas. When she hadnt come in after half an hour I went out and called her repeatedly. I went out with a torch and she was curled up under a tree. I couldn’t get near to her. She would not respond to my calls. I went back out three times but no luck. She eventually came in at 8 and appeared fine. This never happened before nor since. Any clues? As a pup she once chewed a lamp flex and fled out of the house down the garden and wouldnt come in for hours and clearly got a shock but in this recent case she was in bed sleeping.
- Is cushings disease serious and how can it be treated in a dog ?
- My dog is forever barking. He chases birds in the garden and barks constantly. Is there anything I can do, or any device I can buy to stop him barking?” Carmel in Galway
Pet first aid course on Sunday 8th January
To find out more about this exciting course, taking place in Bray, follow the link below.
Facebook Live video
This week, I did a Facebook Live video in the Newstalk studio after the show to answer some other questions that we didn’t have time to answer on the show: you can watch it at the link below.