We have all seen the recent changes in technology over the last several years from wearable devices, smart devices, monitors that you wear like a band-aide that can tell how much you sweat etc.. the body is producing. It truly has been innovative and amazing to watch. However, it is also becoming more difficult to keep up with the technology being created and knowing what we can do with it. This can create resistance and apprehension, something i my-self began to experience when i began researching the topic of pet technology, and trying to figure out how this will affect me as a veterinarian practicing medicine. I had to ask my self - how will i integrate this into my practice, or do I just simply ignore it and hope that the trend never really catches on. This last option I have concluded is not either in the best interest of the patient nor will this trend stop. I love technology, however, I still can't pay for my coffee at starbucks with my cell phone.
in the past we have seen more of a linear acceleration in innovations which has made it possible to keep up with technology as it has become available, this growth has now become more exponential and will continue to expand this way for many years to come. So what can we begin to see for Our fur babies in the future, how is it going to change they way we monitor our pets at home and interact with our veterinarians? Lets take a moment to look at a few things about to change they way we monitor disease in our pets.
this includes collars that can monitor how active your pet is on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. We can monitor how much sleep they are getting, how long it takes for them to sit and stand. We can measure heart rate including heart rate variability and respiration rate, all of which can be done at home with a simple collar. Trends can be recorded and variances from the normal will be able to alert your veterinarian that something is not quite right.
Cat litter boxes
imagine that every time your cat goes into the litter box a smart device records the in and out movements and sends you a text. Suddenly you see your cat is going into the litter box 50% more, and now you know something is up and its time to contact your vet. or imagine that your can urinates in the litter box and glucose levels can be determined. Well this technology is already here. So what can be gained from this. Are we just going to far? Is this something that should be only watched by the experts? I don't believe so - in fact this will only help veterinarians as we move forward and will ultimately lead to shorter morbidity periods.
Imagine coming in with your wearable device for your dog, downloading it for your veterinarian and the data reveals that in the last month your dog has been exercising or moving 25% less. How many of us would actually have noticed that. This data can help monitor early degenerative disease, early signs of heart disease, cancer and many other common ailments that with an early diagnoses can improve longevity, decrease morbidity and mortality and overall improvE quality of life. How many times have I asked an owner is your cat peeing more frequently and the owner can not tell me, but with a smart device we can see the trends and possibly treat urinary disease before it leads to chronic issues. These are just a few examples on the way wearable and home monitoring health systems for pets are going to change they wAy owners and veterinarians interact. In my opinion this is going to be a welcome tool. In the future I can only imagine, skin devices that will be able to help monitor medications and monitor progressive diseases like kidney or liver failure. This all may be a few years off before it hits the mass market, but I believe this is going to happen.
Sure I am still uneasy about the learning curves of technology, but with the information innovative products will be able to provide we have to much gain. I am willing to do whatever is necessary to offer our pets the best medicine we can offer and will continue to learn as technology changes, these are exciting times. Guess I need to go to starbucks and order that coffee!