There’s an app for that

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By Tracie Korol

Do you and your Best Friend represent that phenomenon where dogs resemble their owners? It’s a sorry turn of events when that resemblance is because you’re both fat. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health estimate that by 2030, 50% of people in the U.S. will be obese. Currently, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that over 50% of dogs and cats are already overweight, and more than 20% are obese. We’re all on a steady downhill slide to tubby.

It’s the Number One question I get: how do I get my dog to lose weight?  Move more, eat less is the short answer but as a technology-obsessed society, we want it to be easier, but in a more complicated fashion. Enter the Fat Dog Diet (www.thefatdogdiet.com), a simple app designed to help you help your dog lose those extra pounds. The app, designed by Patty Khuly, VMD, integrates research-based weight-loss methods for healthy adult dogs, with added community support and feedback. The app includes calorie information for commercial foods, treats and the foods you can make at home. Plug in your dog’s vitals, the foods that go into him and simply follow along. Another part of this particular program is that Khuly is working with nutritionists, veterinary surgeons and rehabilitation specialists to gather data to determine whether an app for weight loss is more effective than current traditional methods. Dr. Khuly wants to know if her app delivers. Plus, it’s FREE.

For those who feel compelled to share their pets’ weight loss progress with others there’s PetMobi (www.petmobi.com). Petmobi is not only a pet social network — sort of a fat dog Facebook — and exercise calorie tracker but also helps owners set weight loss or maintenance goals, track daily calorie intake, record exercise and chart progress over time. Pet owners can share photos, post pictures, comments, encouragements and earn rewards with mPoints. It’s FREE, too.

If you want to spend a bit of money and get very serious about the “move more” part, there’s an app to measure your Best Friend’s every activity. The Whistle Activity Monitor (www.whistle.com) is an on-collar device that measures how much your dog moves — walks, plays, runs, swims … and rests. An accelerometer in the device detects motion, helping you determine if the casual stroll around the block is enough to burn a few calories or if you’re just going to have to up the game and play ball.  It’s pricey when compared to simply throwing the stick for 20 minutes a day, but if you’re a hound for stats, this is for you.

A couple other worthy apps that are nice to have around are PetFirstAid from JiveMedia and Tagg-The Pet Tracker. PetFirstAid gives you a tool to be prepared 24/7 for a medical emergency — bleeding, poisoning, rescue breathing, bites and stings, fractures, muzzling and many more. In addition, PetFirstAid also provides a handy place to save vital medical information for all your pets — vaccinations, identifications, contact info, medications, allergies and conditions, and any other notes for reference when visiting the vet for your yearly Well-Dog checkup. It’s $3.99.

Tagg is the product every pet owner with a wandering dog has been waiting for. The Pet Tracker app uses GPS and wireless technology to let you know where your Best Friend is at all times. Tagg, another collar attachment, allows you to create your dog’s Tagg zone, the area where he should be spending most of his time. If your dog isn’t in his zone, Tagg alerts you, via mobile app, to his location replete with driving directions and map for speedy pick-up.  The app is FREE, the Tagg unit, however, is pricey and after the three-month intro plan, comes with a small monthly charge.  If you have a runner, a wanderer or a deaf senior pet at your house, it’s worth the investment to avoid the agony of the lost dog horror stories that run in your head when you can’t find your Best Friend.   And, sorry to say, as long as we have bad people in this community who steal dogs from yards for dog fighting training purposes, it’s just one more measure of security.