Innovative Pet Care: A Tweeting Cat Collar to a Poop Identification Program

By Bobby Miller

It’s no secret that we love our pets. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent an estimated $47.7 billion on their pets in 2010. We want what’s best for them, whether it’s in the form of a toy, a device that lets us take care of them better, or a new medical advancement to treat their illnesses. Luckily, new pet-related products are always being released, giving us a wider variety of options to choose from as we care for our pets. Here are some that have caught our eye.

The Buddy System: Hands-Free Leash System

This simple, innovative tool allows dog walkers to wrap their end of the leash around the waist, letting both hands remain free. Should the walker decide that they want to revert back to a more traditional style, this product can be converted into a hand-held leash. According to PetsGadgets.com, the leash also features a “quick release mechanism” to immediately release the leash from the waist “in case of emergency.” The leash itself allows for a length of 22 inches to 40 inches. The leash system is available on the product’s website for $26.

BarkLimiter by Garmin

In a January press release, Garmin announced the BarkLimiter series, collars designed to help owners of loudmouthed dogs. “When a bark is detected, the lowest level of correction is given, and corrections will rise until the dog stops nuisance barking,” according to the press release. In other words, the amount of shock given will rise until the dog stops. If the dog goes a while without barking, the amount of shock given will go back down.

Nvate Pet care innovations bark collar, cameras, pooprints, stem cell and cold laser therapy

BarkLimiter by Garmin

The waterproof dog collar also has a feature that counts the number of times a dog barks within a certain time span, in case you’re curious how much your dog is barking when you’re away. The deluxe version comes complete with rechargeable batteries that last for months and costs $99.99, according to Garmin’s online store. The standard BarkLimiter is available on the product’s website for $79.99.

While the features provided are helpful, it is a shame that Garmin didn’t integrate a GPS into the collar to help owners should the dog wander off.

QR Code Collar

A simple but effective way of making sure that someone can help you reunite with your lost pet is to use a collar with a QR code on it. The QR code contains important information, namely, how to contact the pet owner.

Unlike microchipping, in which a chip is planted into the animal, a QR code is something that most every tech-enabled person can use. A microchip, on the other hand, would require transporting the pet to an authorized location to read the chip. As PRweb.com notes, “By allowing any average person to rescue a pet, they can potentially bypass the process of sending a pet to the local pound, which frees up already overcrowded animal rescue shelters nationwide, saving valuable resources.” Not to mention the fact that a QR code collar is much cheaper, selling anywhere from $15 to $30.

The only problem, as KFBB.com notes, is how the collar might possibly go missing as well, rendering it useless. It should also be noted that it’s a bad idea to put a collar on a cat. It’s possible that, when the feline tries to jump over a fence, the collar could get caught to the fence. Breakaway collars are a safer option, but they’re easier to lose.

One version of the collar is available at Wag.com, selling for $26 and is available in seven colors.

Loc8tor Pet

Another way to find a lost pet is the Loc8tor Pet. Rather than relying on QR codes or GPS technology, it uses radio frequency to follow a cat or dog, according to ABCnews.go.com. “The super light tag, weighing only about 0.18 ounces, attaches to the pet’s collar and communicates with a credit card-sized handset,” as the website’s article states.

Nvate Pet care innovations bark collar, cameras, pooprints, stem cell and cold laser therapy

Loc8tor Pet

The handset tells you which direction you have to go to find the pet. As you get closer, the signal grows louder. Veterinarian Marty Becker said that the Loc8tor is even useful indoors. If you’re having trouble finding your cat because it’s hiding in a closet somewhere, this product should alleviate that pain.

One point of caution about this product is that the user must be within 400 feet of the pet for the handset to pick up on the collar, so if an outdoor pet has wandered far away, you might still have a difficult time finding it.

The system is available for $99.98 on the product’s website. A deluxe version, which has additional alert modes and the capability to track animals up to a range of 600 feet, is available for $169.98.

Protection1’s E-Secure System

The E-Secure System allows you to make sure that your home and pet are safe. By setting up $200 cameras around the house, you can watch what’s going on inside by using your computer or smartphone. It costs $10 a month to maintain the system. According to PetSide.com, owners of the system “like to either provide [an entrance code] for a pet sitter or to give their dog walker access to their home by deactivating the alarm remotely.” With the cameras, you can watch your pet sitter as they work, making sure they’re doing their job responsibly.

Pet’s-Eye View Digital Camera

This fun, little device allows you to turn your pet into a photographer. Selling for about $26 on PetsGadgets.com, it can clip onto the collar of any pet. Depending on how you set it, it will take pictures every one, five, or 15 minutes. It can hold about 40 pictures, and with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels, prints are 4-by-6 inches. The pictures can be uploaded to a computer through a USB cord.

Audubon Bird Cam

Another picture-taking product from PetsGadgets.com is the Audubon Bird Cam. This motion-activated camera should allow you to take up-close pictures or videos of birds and other creatures in your very own backyard. It uses “Smart Sensor” technology to ensure that there won’t be any shots devoid of animals. The photos and videos are stored to an SD card or to the system’s internal memory of 32MB. To make sure these pictures turn out just the way you want them to, the device can be mounted in a variety of ways. For instance, the cam can be pointed at a birdhouse or birdbath. PetsGadgets.com advertises it as being “built for outdoor use” with “rugged, weatherproof construction.” This sturdy build and easy-to-use interface comes at a price of $99.99.

Sony’s Twitter Cat Collar

Nvate Pet care innovations bark collar, cameras, pooprints, stem cell and cold laser therapy

Sony’s Twitter Cat Collar

Some of the pet innovations out there are on the bizarre side, and this is certainly one of them. The Twitter Cat Collar brings your feline friend into the world of social networking. According to ABCnews.go.com, the device “uses a camera, accelerometer, GPS and Bluetooth technology to record the cat’s activities.”

These devices enable the product to determine if the cat is playing, walking, eating, sleeping, or doing something else. Once it figures out what the cat’s up to, a message will automatically be sent to a Twitter feed. For instance, if your cat is chowing down on its food, the tweet might read, “This tastes good.” Prototypes of the collar were released in 2010, but there is no word yet on when the collar will be available to the public.

ThermoPet Non-Contact Thermometer

Not all pet products are just fun and games, though. Others, such as the ThermoPet Non-Contact Thermometer, can make life much easier for pet owners. It’s important to keep track of your dog’s temperature. According to PetGadgets.com, a high fever “is often considered the first indicator for most diseases affecting dogs.” However, taking a dog’s temperature is no easy task.

Traditionally, there have been two options for getting a dog’s temperature. First, there’s the option of the rectal thermometer. This often requires one person to hold the thermometer and another to hold the upset dog down, making it a difficult process. Second, there’s the option of using human ear thermometers, but the readings won’t be accurate because they are calibrated for the human ear, not the shape of a dog’s ear canal.

However, the ThermoPet Non-Contact Thermometer allows you to take an accurate temperature without even touching the dog. It costs $19 and is available at PetGadgets.com.

PooPrints: Pet Waste Management

As everyone knows, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to carefully dodge lots of dog poop lying on the ground. It’s especially irritating when it’s on your own property. To address this issue, the Vue condo community in Orlando, Fla., along with more than 300 other communities around the country, is using the Poo Prints program.

According to CFnews13.com, each dog in the condo community will have its mouth swabbed so that the DNA can be sent off to the Bio Pet Vet Lab in Tennessee. Later, if dog poop is found uncared for, it will be sent to the lab, where DNA evidence will determine the culprit. The owner will then be fined $100, which is more than enough to make up for the cost of sending the “evidence” there in the first place. Plus, this measure is cost-effective in that it encourages people to keep the community clean.

If you live in a community where dog poop seems to be all over the place, consider recommending this program to somebody in charge.

Medical Advances: Innovations in Cancer Treatment and Arthritis

Finally, there are a number of medical advances available to pet owners who are willing to pay for them. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturing Association, it is estimated that pet owners spent over $14 billion on veterinary care in 2011. So clearly, there is a huge market for pet care.

Stem cell therapy is among one of the newer forms of treatment available for animals. Although it is primarily used for racehorses, as CNN.com reports, it can also be used on dogs and other animals. By “removing cells from an animal, harvesting stem cells and then injecting them at the injury site,” arthritis can be treated.

Cold laser therapy is another option available to needy pets. This non-invasive tool stimulates “a pet’s muscle tissue or achy joints,” which can provide “pain relief for conditions such as arthritis.” According to Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinarian at in-home pet hospice Home to Heaven, the treatment “really stimulates the body’s ability to do what the body should be doing, and it’s naturally very safe.”

There are also innovations taking place in cancer treatment. To fight against malignant melanoma, the original tumor can be removed or radiated, and then a melanoma vaccine can stop cancer cells from spreading to other areas, as CNN.com explains.

However, the latest in pet medical treatment can be very costly. For this reason, it is essential to get pet insurance from a company such as VPI Insurance, Trupanion, or Kroger. It costs between $10 and $20 a month and may save your pet’s life.

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