Phone apps help track pets' activity, nutrition

Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:36pm EDT
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By Natasha Baker

TORONTO (Reuters) - Dog and cat lovers have a new way to make sure their pets get plenty of exercise and nourishment: phone apps that track how much an animal plays, runs, sleeps and eats.

Whistle, an iPhone app and monitor worn on a dog's collar that was launched last week, measures an animal's activity throughout the day. The app can track changes over time and can compare exercise levels with other dogs of the same breed.

Created with input from veterinarians, Whistle Labs' app aims to help owners detect early medical problems by showing changes in a dog's activity level and behavior compared to other animals of the same age, breed and weight.

"What (veterinarians) get today are hyperemotional responses, often driven by one or two anecdotes," said Ben Jacobs, chief executive of the San Francisco-based company.

"What we found out was that a) vets didn't really have the information they needed and b) there's no breed weight and age standards," he added in an interview.

The app gathers data from a small circular device attached to a dog's collar. An accelerometer in the device detects motion, helping to determine if the dog is playing, walking or resting. The rechargeable device is enabled for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The app also notifies owners of changes in a dog's behavior, such as if it suddenly starts waking up at night.

"This is the first window you have into the dog's entire day," Jacobs said.   Continued...

Google apps are shown on an Apple iphone 5 in this photo illustration in Encinitas, California, April 16, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake