Pet Tech: Making Life with Dogs Easier to Manage

By Hunter Bowen DVM, April 2018
Electronic pet door, MyPets phone app, SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder and the Whistle dog collar reviewed

Electronic pet door, MyPets phone app, SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder and the Whistle dog collar

Hunter Bowen, who earned his DVM from Texas A&M in 2011, lives and practices in Austin, Texas. Both at home and in his work at the Firehouse Animal Health Center, he taps into tech that has the potential to make life with dogs (and cats) easier to manage. Following, Dr. Bowen calls out a few of the trends and gadgets that have come to his attention.

HIGH-TECH DOORS

Doors controlled by key fob and/or microchip have obvious security benefits, but I’m equally impressed with this technology’s application to keeping our companion animals safe. Summer heat in Central Texas can be brutal, so something that allows me to control a pet door remotely —or allows my dog or cat to do it themselves—has real potential. I have no preference for a specific brand, but two to consider are High Tech Pet and Plexidor Electronic Pet Doors.

APPS

Locater Assistance: Two up-and-coming apps, Finding Rover and PiP My Pet, use facial recognition software to help reunite lost dogs or cats with their people.

A supplement, not a substitute, for ID tags and microchips, they both rely on the animal ending up at a shelter that has partnered with the app company. The number of shelters currently doing this is relatively small, but I hope to see it continue to grow.

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Health: Of the apps that help people monitor their dog or cat’s specific medical conditions, RVC Pet Diabetes and Cardalis (for dogs with congestive heart failure) are the two we use most frequently at the clinic. Other apps assist in tracking medication schedules, weight and veterinary appointments. Two examples are Dog Health and MyPets (not to be confused with MyPet Reminders, which has similar functions but is produced by a specific pharmaceutical company and is most useful for tracking that company’s medications).

THE WHISTLE 3

The company has continued to up-date and improve this product, and version 3.0 is a serious upgrade. Aside from keeping track of a dog’s activity, it now helps locate lost dogs. Traditionally, if our microchipped dog is lost, we depend on someone finding the dog, having the microchip read, and hope that the contact information is up-to-date. Whistle’s new GPS tracker allows us track our dog fast, before she is injured or gets too far away.

SUREFEED MICROCHIP PET FEEDER

I love this product, especially for smaller dog breeds. Many clients really do want to feed their companion animals the diet I recommend but can’t find a way to prevent other pets in the household from sharing it. Feeders like this make it so much easier to ensure that each one gets the diet best for them.

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