We’re all quite familiar with wearable tech for humans these days. It’s not unusual to see your co-worker wearing a watch that tracks the number of calories he’s eaten or steps he’s taken, and we’re all accustomed to seeing cyclists and other sports enthusiasts with GoPro cameras strapped to their helmets and bodies, but an increasing amount of money is being spent on people buying wearable technology devices for their pets.
“There are a lot of challenges with dogs at the moment,” says Andrew Nowell, one of the founders of PitPat, who previously worked on wearable tech for humans. “About 4 million of the UK’s 9 million dogs are obese, and about 25% are left home alone. So in terms of pet care, it’s deteriorating. At the same time, vets’ bills are rising each year, and as a knock-on, insurance premiums are rising.”
As well as helping the owners to ensure that their dogs are getting everything they need, PitPat is also building a huge database on dogs “so we can understand what makes one labrador healthy and another obese; why certain conditions affect [some] breeds more than others”.
Pet cameras allow you to see what your dog is doing when in the care of a sitter, dog walker or kennel staff, GPS collars can track your cat’s movements so you can find out which neighbour has been feeding them and activity monitors can help you ensure your dog is getting the exercise it needs.
It would be easy to dismiss wearable tech as a millennial fad, but there could be very practical uses for such technology in the future, such as tracking lost pets, or helping service dogs to attract help for humans.