In the US, dogs are seen as much more than just a mere animal. They provide companionship and are sometimes treated just like any other friend or family member. The booming tech industry for dogs is reflecting our commitment to giving our furry friends the same quality of life that we humans enjoy.
A Kansas City-based startup has capitalised on this by creating FitBark, an activity tracker for your dog. It’s no coincidence that it sounds like FitBit, because essentially it has all the same functions. It’s a small colourful device that attaches to your dogs collar, and monitors activity levels, sleep quality, distance travelled and calories burned at all hours of the day.
Featured heavily on Animal Planet’s new show ‘My Big Fat Pet Makeover,’ the wearable device was created with the collaboration of over 45 veterinary schools and research institutions. It can also monitor mobility, anxiety levels and skin conditions through the analysis of the data provided, and is designed to work with vets to give your dog the best healthcare possible.
Bluetooth compatible, it also cashes in on our inherent desire for comparison and competition, as a dog can accrue ‘barkpoints’ or see where it stands on the ‘topdog board.’ It is also possible to sync the FitBark with FitBits, Apple Healthkits or any Google fit device, to foster a healthy competitive spirit between you and your canine. The company’s hope is that by giving the dog the exercise it needs, owners as well are getting out and doing more exercise.
Although it is well known that obesity is a growing problem in the US, this epidemic is also spreading to our pets. According to a 2016 survey by Pet Obesity Protection, over half of dogs are obese, and 98 percent of veterinary professionals believe that pet obesity is a serious problem nationwide.
Pet owners spent $66.75 billion on their animals in 2016, a number that is on the rise. A staggering number of companies are taking advantage of our soft spot for our pets to create technology to help our dogs stay healthy, eat well, and take selfies.
Petsimpl and Wonderwoof have both created wearables for dogs as well, which also include a GPS tracker, so Fido will never get lost again. The UK based Butternut box raised £1 million last year for their freshly cooked tailored meal service for pampered pooches, using an algorithm technology to make sure the dogs get all the necessary nutrients to be healthy.
But all of these pale in comparison to the PetBot, a $200 contraption that allows you to watch what your pet is up to when you’re away. With a camera to stream your pet’s every movement, the machine also has capabilities to dispense treats at your bidding and takes pictures of your dogs face.
“You check your notifications, say ‘awwwww’, and post the selfie to social media.” explains the website.
As technology startups explode into the food and healthcare industries, it is no surprise that we are now using them for our pets.