By Dr. Becker
There is no shortage of apps available that let you take care of virtual pets, but as a pet owner, you may be equally (if not more) interested in apps that can be of benefit to your realpet. Of these, there are also many, and sorting through them to determine which are useful and which are not is a major time waster.
The eight apps that follow, compiled by Dr. Patty Khuly for Vetstreet, are examples of truly beneficial apps that may help you in an emergency situation, keep your pet fit and even let you keep track of him when you're not home.
This app includes step-by-step instructions to guide pet owners in the event of an emergency, and includes early warning signs for when you should contact a veterinarian.
When you're in the midst of an actual emergency, you'd be best served by heading to your closest emergency veterinarian or calling the pet poison control hotline, not scrolling through an app, so this information is best used as reference ahead of time.
You'll find videos, images and instructions for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations, such as how to control bleeding, treat wounds, and care for cardiac emergencies, plus what to do if your pet is burned, has a fall or is in a car accident.1
The app also serves as a spot for you to collect important phone numbers and pet health history, and helps you include your pet in your disaster preparedness plan. Other notable features include:
• "Click-to-call" veterinarian contact button
• Animal hospital locator
• Pet-friendly hotel locator
• Pet profile for storing tag identification number, photos, and medical information
• How to include pets in emergency preparedness plans
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) free mobile app lets you quickly contact their always-open pet poison hotline number, giving you full access to specially trained veterinary staff and toxicologists in the event your pet ingests a poisonous substance.
The app also allows you to quickly choose which species of pet you need information on (dog, cat, horse or bird) and then input the potential poison from categories including plants, foods, medication, cold- and warm-weather hazards and household hazards.
You'll quickly be able to find the level of toxicity (tailored to your pet's weight and amount consumed), side effects, and recommended actions to take.
There's even a "chocolate wheel" and "rodentislide" that allow you to quickly determine the level of risk to your pet if he consumes either of these common substances.
The ASPCA has a free mobile app of its own, which shows you what to do in the event of a natural disaster.
Similar to the Red Cross pet app, the ASPCA app lets you store your pet's medical records and access information about how to care for your pet before, during and after a major storm. A nice touch is that you can access this data even without a data connection.
In the event your pet is lost, the app provides a missing pet recovery kit, including instructions on how to search for your lost animal and build a digital "lost pet" poster that you can share instantly on your social media.
This fun fitness app lets you track and store your daily dog walks, keeping track of such data as how far your walked, the duration of your walk, speed and calories burned.
Pins are shown along your route to help you find dog parks, dog-friendly restaurants, water fountains and even poop-bag dispensers. You can also share your dog walks with friends and family.
Fans of the human fitness app Fitbit will love FitBark, which is like Fitbit for dogs. There's a bone-shaped monitor that attaches to your dog's collar and monitors his activity and sleep patterns (the monitor contains a battery, so be sure he doesn't chew it).
The data can be used to help you track potential illness (if, for instance, your dog's activity levels suddenly plummets or he's unable to sleep). It's also being collected on a worldwide scale, leading to some interesting tidbits of information about pets and their owners.
For instance, the most popular time of day to walk dogs is 6 p.m., and Maltese dogs are among the popular breeds most afraid of fireworks.2
This app combines with an on-collar GPS tracking device that tracks your dog's whereabouts in real time right on your mobile device. In the event your pet gets lost, this means you can actually get his location and activity right on your phone, which is priceless.
This product is costlier than other apps, but it may be well worth it if you have an escape artist for a pet. The app also allows you to monitor your pet's activity levels and set goals based on breed, weight and age.
Do you wish you could see what your pet is doing even when you're not home? This app works with your phone, laptop or tablet and provides a live camera feed so you can monitor your pet 24/7.
There's even a feature that lets you talk to your pet, record a video or snap a quick photo if your pet should strike an irresistible pose. This app may be especially useful if your pet is older, or dealing with a chronic health condition like diabetes or epilepsy.
This app combines with a special collar that tracks your pet's activity and health information, including heart and respiratory rates, calories burned, distance traveled and quality of rest. This is another costlier option but gives pet owners the ability to closely track their pet's health, behavior and well-being.
As technology progresses, you now have at your fingertips the ability to monitor your pet's health, activity and sleep patterns, see what he's doing while you're away and even locate his whereabouts if he gets lost. You can also quickly access potentially life-saving information about how to help your pet in an emergency.
An app is clearly not a substitute for regular veterinary care, but it cangive you insights into your pet's health that you might otherwise miss. You can also share the data you've collected with your veterinarian to get an even more comprehensive overview of your pet's health, including whether it's changing, for better or worse, over time.