Wearables monitor canine health and activity

Accelerometers, or motion-sensing devices, for animals have historically been expensive and complicated to use, including in clinical studies. But with the explosion of human electronic wearables, it was only a matter of time before that changed.

A new study published by Colorado State University (CSU) researchers on July 4 in BioMed Central looked specifically at one of those wearables, Whistle, a smart-phone based device, and compared it to a previously-validated accelerometer.

(Whistle enables a pet owner to take notes, share photos, log the administration of medications, and monitor a dog’s physical activity via a smartphone or tablet.)

The study results—that there was a correlation between the two accelerometers—were not surprising to the researchers. (The study was a necessary precursor to the use of wearables such as Whistle in clinical studies.)

But Whistle isn’t the only wearable CSU is studying. They are also evaluating others, and conducting ongoing research to address how best to use the new technology, Felix Duerr, DVM, ACVS, ACVSMR, at CSU’s Small Animal Orthopedics and Sports Medicine program, told NEWStat.

“So far I have found that every device is different and I think it’s important that we evaluate them closely when using them for research purposes. For personal use, I believe that they all will provide valuable feedback for the owner.”

While the use of such devices is still in its infancy, benefits are emerging.

According to a 2007 study in the American Journal of Veterinary Research (AJVR), at-home accelerometers are helpful not only in chronic disease clinical trials, but also for monitoring dogs with heart failure, chronic pain, or other activity-limiting disorders, reported the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

One of the challenges with wearables, noted the AVMA, is the lack of ways to integrate the data with a practice’s electronic health records, or how, and by whom, that data will be interpreted.

NEWStat Advancements & research News