By Tracey Dowdy
We Americans love our pets. We spent over $56 billion on them in 2013 with $15 billion of that in vet care alone. Recent studies have shown pet owners experience benefits that go far beyond someone to cuddle or play with, they actually make us happier and healthier.
Research by The American Heart Association found that pet owners had better overall heart health and have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Pet owners tend to move more, are often more social, have reduced stress levels, and children exposed to pets at a young age tend to have fewer allergies later in life. Children with pets tend to demonstrate higher levels of compassion, self-confidence and show more responsibility.
It’s no wonder then that over 68% of American households have a furry, hairy, scaly or finned family member. And since over half the population has a smartphone, it’s no wonder there are so many great apps and smartphone paired-gadgets for pet owners.
Tagg Pet Tracker uses your phone’s GPS and Verizon’s nationwide wireless network to help monitor your dog. The device clips to your dog’s collar and once you’ve set up his perimeter, Tagg will let you know by text message if Buttons makes a run for it. Rugged, waterproof, and with a 10 day battery charge, Tagg Pet Tracker also monitors your dog’s health by sending emails and in-app alerts about activity level. (iOS, Android)
Pet First Aid by American Red Cross offers practical and basic medical advice for cat and dog owners. With step by step instructions for 25 common pet emergencies, the app walks you through first aid steps, offers advice on giving your pet medication, and offers behavioral advice. It also allows you to program your vet’s number into the app and locates the nearest veterinary hospital, and even offers advice on euthanasia when it’s time to say goodbye. (iOS, Android – $0.99)
Bring Fido is ideal for pet owners who don’t like to leave their dog behind when they travel. Search worldwide by distance, rating, popularity, or price for a list of hotels, attractions, and restaurants that allow pets. Users can search for local attractions, groomers, vets, pet sitters and pet supply stores as well as share photos of your pet on Facebook or Twitter. Bring Fido is currently offering $5 off your next booking if you use the code FIDOAPP. (iOS, Android – Free)
Aquarimate is a great app for hobbyists or professionals and offers advice for salt and freshwater aquariums. The Dashboard provides a structured timetable and record of tasks so you never lose track of maintenance or feeding schedules. Timelines tracks health and growth of your marine life and allows you to create individual timelines for each tank inhabitant. Create a photo gallery, track expenses, log test results to track parameters or build them into a chart. You can back up your data to the Aquarimate cross-platform cloud accessible anytime you have internet access. (iOS, Android)
Dog Whistler is simply that – a dog whistle. A simple user interface allows users to choose a frequency between 80Hz and 20,000Hz to train your dog. As an added benefit, several users say it’s an effective mosquito repellent. (iOS, Android – $0.99)
Pet First Aid won’t replace your vet but may save you a trip to the clinic for something easily dealt with at home. Videos and detailed step by step instructions can help you tend to simple medical issues like stings or cuts but also provide valuable advice for emergencies like burns, poisoning, drowning or how to give your pet CPR. The iOS version tracks your pet’s medical history and the Android version promises to add this capability soon. (iOS, Android)
PupTox is a comprehensive list of 250 plants, foods, beverages and other items that are toxic for cats and dogs. It has a built in chocolate toxicity calculator so if your cocker spaniel eats an entire bag of Hershey miniature chocolate bars as once happened at my house – I swear that dog had retractable thumbs – you’ll know what to expect and how to best treat the results. The list includes common house and garden plants, household cleaners, and drugs as well as food and beverages. While the app doesn’t offer medical advice, it can tell you whether what your pet has ingested is toxic and offers quick connection to your vet, Pet Poison Helpline, or local ASPCA. (iOS/Android – $0.99)
Exotic Pet Vet is designed for veterinary students but is a great resource for those who’ve opted for a chinchilla instead of a cat or a tortoise instead of a goldfish. “Designed to provide biological data on the commonly presented exotic species”, the app offers a comprehensive list of common illness, answers to simple questions like the gestation period for rabbits. The app is frequently updated so users always have access to current information. (iOS, Android)
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.By Tracey Dowdy