Technology and Your Pets


By Celeste Beley

Your four-legged best friend may be happy with the stick he found in the park, but today's pet parents have ever-growing access to technology to help monitor their pets' health and help keep them happy. While some may consider pet technology an extravagance, others welcome the innovations and are banking on their success.

More Than Just a Game of Fetch

Fitbits are all the rage these days, but what about your dog's sleep and exercise habits? A San Francisco-based company has a product that does just that. A collar attachment called Whistle monitors the time and length of walks, playtime and sleep. You can set goals for your pet and track progress, sync your veterinary reports and now even use the GPS tracker to find her if she's lost or just with another family member. Whistle allows pet parents a way to monitor their best friend's health just as a human may.

For the dog that consider playing fetch their favorite thing, there is iFetch. The automatic ball launcher is designed for indoor or outdoor play and is battery powered. Using a standard miniature tennis ball, dogs can place the ball in one hole and wait for it to launch across the room at one of three available distances.

Managing Ongoing Needs is a company that provides an alternative to traditional boarding kennels; connecting dog owners with local, insured pet sitters. Owners can log in to the site, choose dates and see available pet sitters and rates, but the reservations also come with guaranteed text and photo updates while you're away, plus premium pet insurance during the length of stay allowing owners to rest easy that their "fur baby" is in good hands.

A monthly subscription service for your dog, sends toys, treats, gadgets and more to subscribers. Plans vary from $19 to $29 per month but the company aims to send high-end, high-quality products that you wouldn't find in your regular pet stores. The same company, Bark & Co, also manages BarkCare, a home-visit veterinarian service in New York and San Francisco, and BarkPost an online dogcentric news site.

Ultimately, pet owners are spending over $50 billion annually on their four-legged friends and technology is certainly a growing part of that. But time will tell what value technology has for our fuzzy friends.

Classroom Discussion

  • Do you think pets can benefit from technology? Why or why not?
  • What types of human-based conveniences do you think would be good to develop for our pets?