Humans are ravenous for activity data. Whether we’re tracking how many steps we’ve taken or how fast our heart is beating, we want to see our metrics and compare them to others. And once we’ve acquired all of the necessary wearable tech devices for ourselves, the only logical next step is to wire up our best friends: our dogs.
Nuno Santos, co-founder of the pet activity monitoring system Otto, says collecting data on your pet is not just fun; it’s about your pet’s overall well-being. “Decreases in activity are the first signs that something may be wrong with your pet,” he says. “Monitors encourage owners to visit their vet for the right reasons. This can really make a difference for your pet to have a longer, healthier and happier life.”
And it’s not just about the metrics. “There’s also a certain level of comfort being able to stay connected to your dog even when you have to be apart,” says Betsy Fore, creator of WonderWoof activity tracker, which attracted crowds of animal-lovers at SXSW Interactive last month.
Here are five promising wearables for your dog, so you can stay in touch with the pups who mean the most to you:
($99, Spring 2015)
This bowtie-shaped activity tracker attaches to your dog’s collar to record all of its daily activities from sleeping to walking to sleeping again. And using the WonderWoof app, you can set a GPS range for your dog to wander around in. If it leaves the area, the app will send you an instant message, alerting you that your little escape artist dug out of the yard again.
WonderWoof is also a social network: You can schedule playdates with other WonderWoof users, and for a touch of competitive gamification, you can collect virtual bones as your dog completes fitness goals.
“Every pet owner has had that trip to the vet’s office and had the doctor ask, ‘Have you seen any changes in their activity or energy levels?’” says Fore. “For most (especially those with couch potato pooches!), this can be a tough question to accurately answer. But now you can provide your vet with valuable data when needed. (Plus, your pup will earn a Bravery Badge for making the visit!)”
($100, available now)
Whistle, the most popular pet activity monitor, is like MyFitnessPal for your pet. Attach the silver disc to your dog’s collar and it records what activities your dog participated in—running, swimming or jumping, for example—and for how long.
Learn when your dog (and by extension, you) is most active and how intense his activity is. And you can log its food for the day and track its medication. The most interesting feature is the way Whistle syncs with the phone of whomever is walking your dog, letting you know who is spending time with your pet and when. This is also a useful feature for making sure your kids are doing their dog-walking chores.
($300, available now)
Voyce is a connected, wearable band that wraps around your dog’s neck like a collar. (You will still need a collar.) The band’s most impressive feature is how it collects your dog’s resting vital signs such as respiratory and heart rates. These important numbers can indicate the onset of disease or even behavioral issues like separation anxiety, but they are nearly impossible to collect at the vet where your pet is anxious.
You will also need to pay for Voyce’s online membership portal ($10/month or $100/year), which displays your dog’s metrics in fancy charts and graphs that you can show to your vet, allows you to store medical records, and gives you access to health articles written by veterinarians tailored to your pet’s breed, age and ailments.
(price TBD, available 2015)
Monitoring your pet’s weight requires more than just tracking how much exercise it gets. You also need to precisely control its caloric intake. Otto is an integrated system that includes an activity monitor and an automated food dispenser. Track your dog’s (or cat’s!) activities throughout the day and then use that data to schedule how much food it gets and when, even if you’re stuck on the subway.
Santos says his monitor is also a good way to choose a dog walker—“one who doesn’t just sit in a park reading a book, but actually plays with your pet.” He thinks that dog owners would love to know how much activity their dogs are getting and how they compare to other dogs. “If they are motivated and get in the habit, exercise quality will increase,” he says.
The dispenser is also outfitted with a webcam and microphone so you can see exactly how much your pet ate. And you can even talk him through his meal from your cellphone. Or just freak him out with a talking food dispenser.
($100, available now)
This activity monitor platform is designed with the multi-dog household in mind. Attach a bone-shaped activity monitor to each of your dogs’ collars and then track them all simultaneously within one app.
FitBark sells a separate Wi-Fi base station for tracking many dogs at once, an ideal ecosystem for pet-boarding business owners who want to be transparent with their customers about how much activity their pet is getting compared to other boarders. The monitor is available in five cutely named colors: Life of the Party Blue, Romantic Snuggler Pink, Free Spirit Emerald Green, Rockstar Grey and Passionate Lover Red.