Veterinarians at the Texas A & M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVM) are using dog collar activity trackers in an effort to aid in ensuring dogs stay healthy. Just as fitness monitors have become useful to people in their quest to achieve heath goals, so too are veterinarians utilizing these devices in the same way for our canine companions.

CVM uses activity monitors with technology that accurately monitors the key vital signs and health indicators of canines including resting heart rate, resting respiratory rate, quality of rest, calories burned and the overall amount and level of activity. The trackers also aid in early indicator identification of some diseases like heart failure and osteoarthritis. The trackers attain this by alerting the dog owner and veterinarian of abnormal vital signs and health indicators. The devices are also useful in assisting in the monitoring of disease progression and in evaluating the impact of therapy in multiple conditions like pain management and weight loss management.

The data provided by the monitors can help determine disease treatment plan effectiveness. The activity monitors can aid the CVM in evaluating heart disease in dogs through improving the detection of early signs of heart disease. This in turn prompts timely visits to the veterinarian that help minimize the stress of both the dog and the dog owner. Subsequently, the evaluations assist in optimizing long-term therapy and the dog’s quality of life. Caitlin Conner is a DVM student involved in a work-study project with the activity monitors. According to Conner, “The monitors can provide objective data while the dog is at home, meaning the veterinarian can review data from the dog’s status in its normal habitat, where they are less stressed than when they visit the veterinarian’s office. The monitors are incorporated into a confortable collar that collects data and displays it online via a Wi-Fi Connection. Based on a dog’s previous monitor data and the disease status the dog is being monitored for, parameters such as respiration rate can be customized by the attending veterinarian for each individual dog. Anytime the monitor-recorded data goes outside the customized parameters, the veterinarian…and the owner are alerted so…it can be determined whether a follow-up appointment is needed.”

Data collected from the monitors can help determine whether a treatment plan for a disease is working. The CVM may use activity monitors to evaluate heart disease in a dog helping improve detection of the early signs of heart disease. This in turn can prompt timely veterinarian visits that help reduce the level of stress for both the owner and the patient. Ultimately, the evaluations assist in optimizing the dog’s long-term therapy and quality of life.

According to Conner, “In dogs with cardiac disease or heart failure, the monitors are used to collect data, such as resting heart rate and resting respiratory rate. In primary care, the monitors have many potential uses. They can monitor the effectiveness of a pain management plan for the treatment of osteoarthritis by showing if the dog
has been more active, is getting adequate uninterrupted rest, or has a lower resting respiratory rate. Each of these findings would typically indicate that a dog is more comfortable. In case of obesity management, the activity monitors can be used to set goals to achieve more activity as well as provide the owner with notifications of successfully achieving activity goals. The monitors can also be used to monitor heartworm treatment plans by ensuring that the dog is undergoing adequate exercise restriction which is a critical part of heartworm therapy.”

The activity monitors also make it easy for owners to identify long-term changes that could be important clues about a dog’s health status as the monitors summarize a dog’s data by day, week and month. CVM associate professor of cardiology Dr. Sonya Gordon said, “These type of monitors are relatively new in veterinary medicine and have the potential to really help veterinarians work with owners to optimize monitoring of wellness and a variety of disease conditions.” The article “High-tech collars track dogs’ fitness” appeared on in August 2016.