Short of hiring a vet to follow my dog, Finley, around 24/7, I have no way of knowing how she’s doing. Are her vital signs normal? Is she running and playing and sleeping enough? Does she get plenty of fresh air? I tend to assume she’s fine. But when a pup becomes sick, wouldn’t it be good to know when things went offtrack?
Although Finley has only been sick once, it was a very serious (and scary) case of pneumonia. At the time, the only indication that she wasn’t feeling well was that she slept most of the day, whereas she’s usually very active. Still, I’m sure her body was giving clues that something was amiss much earlier.
So I was beyond thrilled to find out about Voyce, a health monitor and wellness management system that uses patented technology and non-invasive sensors to keep track of your dog’s health parameters. More than just a Fitbit for Fido, Voyce monitors your pet’s calories burned, distance traveled, resting heart and respiratory rates, and time spent resting, and it illustrates all the information in a series of bar graphs and line charts. If you see that your dog’s respiratory rate changed dramatically one day, you can call your vet and find out whether it’s a serious health problem. Or if you notice that your dog hasn’t been getting enough activity for the past few days, you can schedule some trips to the park or extra walks around the neighborhood.
Barely able to control my excitement at how cool 21st-century pet parenting can be, I linked the Voyce device to our WiFi network, strapped it around Finley’s neck, and committed to monitoring her activity for three weeks. I took her for the usual daily walks and weekly dog park visits, played tug with her nightly, and let her nap and rest as much as she liked. I was especially excited to let Finley loose at doggy daycare to see how active she was when I wasn’t around. Unfortunately, the facility wouldn’t allow her to wear the device, so I didn’t get to capture what I thought would be some of the more dramatic stats. Still, I learned more about Finley than any level of human surveillance would allow.
When I logged in to the Voyce member site to view Finley’s activity trends, I felt like I was a vet technician gathering invaluable data. I now know that my dog’s heart rate is about 62 beats per minute and her average respiratory rate is 14 breaths per minute. She gets about 45 minutes of sunlight every day and an average of two hours of activity, most of it medium intensity. This is a little less than I had anticipated. I was hoping for at least three solid hours with a lot of high-intensity movement.
I was somewhat relieved to see that Finley logs an average of 4.4 miles per day, but I’m not sure what to make of her average calorie burn of 1,074. Is that a lot or a little for a 46-pound dog? Similarly, Finley rests for about 18.2 hours every day. That seems like an excessive amount, but at least she’s consistent.
Although I may have some difficulty analyzing the data, I could see how Finley’s vet would find this information highly useful, especially if my dog were to start showing symptoms of illness. Sharing the charts would not only give him a sense of my dog’s daily averages but also help him pinpoint the exact day her health took a turn.
At the end of the three weeks, I felt like I knew more about Finley than ever before. Even though I do the majority of the doggy caregiving and keep close tabs on her, I was relatively in the dark regarding her activity levels. And I didn’t have to do much to access the wealth of wellness information for my pet — the Voyce network did all the work for me, keeping track of Finley’s vitals and emailing me weekly activity updates and reminders to sync the band.
For protective pet parents, there’s nothing quite like the peace of mind of knowing exactly how your dog is doing.
The Voyce monitor is perhaps more information than some pet owners need at first blush, but for the countless dogs who run into health problems, it could be a lifesaver.
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About the author: Whitney C. Harris is a New York-based freelance writer for websites including StrollerTraffic, Birchbox, and WhattoExpect.com. A former book and magazine editor, she enjoys running (with Finley), watching movies (also with Finley), and cooking meatless meals (usually with Finley watching close by).