Updated November 29, 2020
The fact that you are reading this means that you use the internet and you probably know how to use a smartphone. What you may not know is how useful your smartphone can be for your pets. These amazing pieces of technology are not only changing our lives but those of our pets as well. Here are some of the ideas we see:
Hmm. That seems a bit obvious. But how many pet owners think to use the camera on their phone to record something that will help the vet later? A picture tells a thousand words.
- How the skin/eye problem looked earlier
- What the faeces or urine look like
- That suspected poisonous plant
- Flea, worm, heartworm, food & shampoo products you use (so you can show us at your yearly checkup)
These are even better than photos. We love it every time someone thinks to video something that worries them. The reason? Most of these events will not happen at the vet, much to the frustration of their owners. Limping dogs & cats magically stop limping, seizures or collapses are way too unpredictable to expect to see, problem behaviours often only happen at home etc…
Have a look at Molly’s video above for example. She could be having some sort of breathing trouble but thanks to the video we can see she’s really ‘reverse sneezing’; nothing to worry about.
Then there’s Bluey, who despite having a severe arthritis, wouldn’t limp at the vet at all, despite us all going out to the the carpark to watch. His owner’s video showed him limping badly on his left front leg, which helped us plan which area to X-ray. That’s how he got better.
Vet in emergency
You’re at the dog park and need a vet in a hurry? Use the voice-recognition in your phone to get you there fast. Tell Apple’s Siri “direct me to the nearest vet” and it will do just that. How do you do it with other phones? Please tell us below.
How To Check Your Pet’s Anaemia
Download a paint colour app. I use the Dulux Colour app. Look at your pet’s gums or inner eyelids and find a matching colour from the palette. Record this by marking it “Favourite”. Now you have a baseline observation. You can check later to see if the colour is getting paler or more pink.
This doesn’t replace blood tests but is useful between vet visits.
Pet First Aid
Perhaps you need advice even more urgently and a vet isn’t available. For local advice about most emergencies, click on the First Aid link and select the topic you need.
GPS Pet Trackers
Be prepared for these to become the next big thing in pets. With an app on your phone and one of these devices attached to your pet’s collar you can know where they are whenever you want. There are now several good ones, including one marketed by the RSPCA. However, my favourite is Pod at www.podtrackers.com which will launch any day now. It’s small, reasonably cheap to run and allows you to also have activity tracking and perimeter alerts.
Health Records or Logs
Here’s a secret you should know. We often know something is wrong with your pet before we even examine them. How? We weigh them first, and look at the stored records in the patient notes.
So easy, and so effective in detecting illnesses before it’s too late. Regular weights are especially useful for animals prone to hiding illness, such as birds, rodents, rabbits, ferrets and even cats. Any unexplained weight loss should be investigated. But there’s no reason to stop with just weights. If you can measure it, it can be recorded. Examples include resting respiratory rate using the Heart2Heart app at heart2heart, amount fed, even temperature. For exercise and fitness monitoring (eg weight loss, monitoring arthritis) there are apps to record the distance travelled or your number of steps.
The data can be recorded on any custom-built app like Loggr (shown)
Preventing Noise Phobias
Puppies need exposure to a wide range of scary noises to help them not be scared as adults. You can find apps with stored sound files, or find a good YouTube clip. I would advise for all apps and clips to connect to a stereo with good bass range rather than relying on the speakers in your device.
Here’s my favourite thunder noise file. Gillian has mentioned a puppy sound habituation app https://www.facebook.com/SoundProofPuppyTraining which is getting good reviews.
That’s not all. I know there are so many great ways to use your smartphone for your pets and now it’s your turn. Leave a comment below of your trick so we can all benefit. I especially want to hear from Android and Windows users.
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By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These articles are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!