31 August 2016

DIGITAL - Internet of Things for Pet Professionals

The Internet of Things, with its ability to bring remote monitoring and highly sophisticated sensor technology to industries that have previously relied heavily on in-person observation and data collection, is significantly changing things for pet professionals.

Silent Herdsman collars
This is most obvious in farming, where new technologies like Silent Herdsman provides collar-based monitoring to detect estrus and other health issues in dairy cows. Silent Herdsman was developed in Scotland and is already being used globally.

The Moo Monitor, developed in Ireland, is another successful wearable device for cow health monitoring, and has been welcomed by farmers who are increasingly reliant on technology to increase profitability and animal health.

According to a 2015 Cambridge University case study, the IoT has the potential to help farmers by “capturing and recording multiple attributes for each animal, for example, age, pedigree, growth rates, health, feed conversion rates, meat quality and killing out percentage.”

As demand increases at a rate that current farming practices cannot sustain, finding ways to support farmers and farm productivity will become more critical.

Farmers are not the only pet professionals whose industry is changing to include more IoT devices.

Vets will be able to access information from consumer products like the FitBark and Anicall collar in order to gain a more comprehensive view of an animal’s daily eating and activity habits.

There is also Vetrax, a health monitoring system that allows vets to track the success of medical care programs for issues such as chronic illness, obesity, surgical recovery, and geriatric care.

Although it is directed at consumers, the implications for veterinary practice are significant. Even technology like Bistro, which has the potential to help keep cats healthy by monitoring weight and hydration, as well as by using facial recognition to ensure that even in multi-cat households, cats only have access to the right kibble, could show up in your vet’s list of recommended treatments for health-impacting obesity.

Another industry that is being impacted by the IoT is dog walking, with the introduction of the GoFetch dog-walking app in Canada.

Pet owners are matched with dog walkers and then tracks the walk through GPS so that owners can see how long the dog walked for, when they played with other dogs, and other information. It’s being referred to as Uber for dogs.

As consumers look for more and more on-demand service, the IoT will make it possible for other animal professionals to do their jobs more effectively and with more mobility.

Pet grooming, petsitting, vet care, dog training – as the IoT grows, so will the number of industry professionals who rely on it.

By Tiffany Sostar
Tiffany is a writer, editor, academic, and animal lover who came late to her appreciation of pets. At 18, a rescue pup named Tasha saved her from a depression and she hasn't looked back. She has worked as the canine behaviour program coordinator for the Calgary Humane Society, and was a dog trainer specializing in working with fearful and reactive dogs for many years. She doesn't have any pets right now, but makes up for it by giving her petsitting clients (and any dogs she comes across on her frequent coffee shop adventures) extra snuggles.

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