Giving dogs a voice through health tech
With Australia in the midst of its next baby boom post the world’s longest run of lockdowns, it seems fitting there’s been an app born every minute to track your baby’s health. From development curves and feed mapping, to smart socks that measure bub’s heart rate and O2 levels, the advances are mind-blowing.
But what about our four-legged babies?
If you’re in Australia, there’s a 69% chance you’re reading this with your dog somewhere within earshot. Our pets give us so much love, yet where is their blood oxygen monitoring system? They might not cry as loudly as a newborn, but their health is impacted far longer as we inadvertently kill them with kindness.
Dogs, much like infants (or macro-counting instagram-posting gym influencers), need to monitor a number of things to live happy, healthy lives. American dogs, not dissimilar to American humans, have a higher obesity rate of 61%. In Australia, we’re not far behind, with over 41% of our dogs carrying COVID kilos. But weight’s the tip of the iceberg. The problem is dogs can’t monitor these things themselves.
Earlier this month, we talked about how AI and edge are transforming healthcare (in humans). We’ve even innovated how we feed ourselves, right down to a machine that can feed you tomatoes while jogging. But it’s been a minute since we looked at how we feed our own best friend.
So, if your dog could actually speak up and tell you what they needed, what would they say? (Other than some Shiba Inu and Doge Coins.)
1. An activity tracker
Okay, your dog might not be training for a triathlon. But then neither is my 91-year-old grandmother who uses her FitBit to chase 10k steps every day.
Steps are just one health metric an activity tracker helps with. Knowing if it was an intense run or a leisurely walk can give a dog parent much more information on calorific output.
Not to mention where the activity was, when it was, and tracking PB’s. Exercise can become contagiously fulfilling once you set some goals and start reaching them together.
2. A weight tracker
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 kilos – 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 truly are.
By accurately knowing your dog’s weight at any given moment, you can track where they are on the curve and continually optimise for a healthy weight.
3. A calorie tracker
There are baby tracking apps to remind our sleep-deprived selves that yes, we fed at 3am. There are macronutrient and calorie tracking apps, like MyFitnessPal, which assess your body condition and exercise, then tailor your nutrition exactly. But when it comes to our dogs, we just leave the calorie counting to chance.
What if you could serve your dog the exact calories they need, and ensure that their body is in perfect equilibrium? The truth is, as of now, it’s possible.
4. A sleep tracker
The biggest trend the app store saw in 2020 was sleep tracking and wellbeing apps. Sleep tells us so much about where we’re at and how we’re feeling, and not getting enough sleep can negatively affect 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 ever really know how much quality sleep they’ve had, or how many midnight adventures interrupted that sleep?
5. Early disease insights
This is the holy grail that most are going for. Amazon’s Halo is promoting that by measuring body fat percentages, they can identify early preventative health markers, which aim to reduce the chances of diabetes and heart disease. Others including the Ōura ring and Apple Watch are moving at pace on this too. Both are trying to identify early warning signs, including early-onset Parkinson’s Disease.
What if this kind of health prevention was possible for dogs?
6. Gourmet meal delivery
What’s food delivery got to do with health tech, you ask? Imagine a personalised nutrition service with gourmet meals delivered fresh, fortnightly. But much more than a Marley Spoon or Providoor, this meal kit’s individualised with the exact macros and nutrients needed – based on all of the activity above.
This complete feeding-to-health system isn’t just a future wishlist item – it’s available right now. Putting dogs at the centre, ilume is the first ecosystem to combine gourmet nutrition with personalised health insights. It gathers as much data as possible using AI, pattern recognition and the internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT).
Next time you wonder if your dog’s healthy, let them tell you.
Christian McGilloway is CTO at ilume.