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Giving a voice to dogs thanks to health technologies

With Australia in the midst of its next baby boom after the world’s longest lockdown, it seems fitting that an app is born every minute to track your baby’s health. From development charts and diet mapping to smart socks that measure heart rate and O2 levels, the progress is mind-blowing.

But what about our four-legged babies?

If you’re in Australia, there’s a 69% chance you’ll read this with your dog somewhere within earshot. Our pets give us so much love, but where is their blood oxygen monitoring system? They might not cry as hard as a newborn baby, but their health is affected for much longer because we inadvertently kill them with kindness.

Dogs, just like infants (or gym influencers who have Instagram macros), need to watch out for a number of things to live happy, healthy lives. American dogs, similar to American humans, have a 61% higher obesity rate. In Australia, we’re not far behind, with over 41% of our dogs carrying pounds of COVID. But weight is only the tip of the iceberg. The problem is, dogs can’t monitor these things on their own.

Earlier this month, we talked about how AI and the periphery are transforming healthcare (in humans). We’ve even innovated the way we feed ourselves, down to a machine that can feed you tomatoes while you jog. But it’s been a minute since we’ve watched how we feed our best friend.

So if your dog could actually talk and tell you what he needed, what would he say? (Except for some pieces by Shiba Inu and Doge.)

1. An activity tracker

Okay, your dog might not be training for a triathlon. But neither does my 91 year old grandmother who uses her FitBit to run 10,000 steps every day.

Steps are just one health metric that an activity tracker helps with. Knowing whether it was a strenuous run or a leisurely walk can give a dog parent a lot more information about heat production.

Not to mention the location of the activity, when it took place and the follow-up of PBs. Exercise can become contagious once you set goals and start achieving them together.

2. Weight tracking

From smart scales to digital logbooks, humans are obsessed with tracking their weight. But most of us won’t even notice when we’ve gained or lost a few pounds – reflection bias means we can’t see small changes over time. The same bias can apply to our pets. We don’t always see them as they really are.

By knowing exactly how much your dog weighs at any given time, you can track their position on the curve and continually optimize them for a healthy weight.

3. A calorie tracker

There are baby tracker apps to remind our sleep deprived people that yes, we fed at 3 a.m. There are macronutrient and calorie tracker apps, like MyFitnessPal, that assess your body condition and exercise, then tailor your diet with precision. But when it comes to our dogs, we leave the calorie count to chance.

What if you could give your dog the exact calories he needs and make sure his body is in perfect balance? The truth is that from now on it is possible.

4. Sleep monitoring

The biggest trend the App Store saw in 2020 was sleep and wellness tracking apps. Sleep tells us so much about where we are and how we feel, and not getting enough sleep can be harmful to our mental and physical health.

We know this is true for humans, but we take it for granted when it comes to dogs. When do we really know how good quality sleep they got or how many nightly adventures interrupted that sleep?

5. Early warning signs of the disease

This is the holy grail that most are looking for. Amazon’s Halo promotes that by measuring percentages of body fat, they can identify early preventative health markers, which aim to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Others, including the Ōura ring and the Apple Watch, are also evolving at a rapid pace. Both are trying to identify warning signs, including early-onset Parkinson’s disease.

What if this kind of health prevention was possible for dogs?

6. Delivery of gourmet meals

What does food delivery have to do with healthcare technology, you ask? Imagine a personalized nutrition service with gourmet meals delivered fresh, every fortnight. But much more than a Marley Spoon or a Providor, this meal kit is personalized with the exact macros and nutrients needed – based on all of the above activities.

This Complete Health Nutrition System isn’t just a future wishlist item – it’s available now. By putting dogs at the center, ilume is the first ecosystem to combine gourmet nutrition with personalized health information. It collects as much data as possible using AI, pattern recognition, and the health Internet of Things (IoHT).

The next time you’re wondering if your dog is healthy, let him tell you.

Christian McGilloway is CTO at ilume.