Activity monitors shed new insight and opportunities for canine care - Veterinary Practice
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Activity monitors shed new insight and opportunities for canine care

Veterinary professionals and pet owners are being urged to embrace the advantages of activity monitors

With ever changing lifestyle and working patterns, it’s never been more important for owners to keep track of their dog’s exercise and weight. Veterinary professionals and pet owners are being urged to embrace the advantages of activity monitors and the data that they provide, to ensure dogs get regular and consistent exercise and that owners are paying attention to their dog’s weight, especially when it’s harder to visit a vet.

Myra Forster-van Hijfte, who is a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and RCVS fellow, said: “With the huge increase in dog ownership during the pandemic, access to good veterinary advice and weight management clinics are more relevant than ever. Many new puppy owners lack essential knowledge about feeding, weight management and exercise. Using an activity monitor as an integral part of a puppy- or weight clinic from the outset helps to guide owners on the right activity level for their pet and monitors this, giving owners ongoing support and confidence.”

Obesity is recognised by the veterinary profession as a major health problem in dogs and while many vet practices offer weight management programmes and clinics, there is often poor owner compliance.

“While restricting calorific intake is the mainstay of a weight management programme, at our weight clinics we see owners often struggling to comply, feeling they are being unkind to their dog,” says Bethany Scott, who is a general practice nurse with a special interest in pet nutrition. We have also found that there can be poor compliance when it comes to recommending an increase in physical activity but using an activity monitor such as a PitPat, can transform the situation.”

Use of activity monitors in practice has demonstrated better owner compliance with the weight loss regime, giving the owner something positive to contribute (exercise) rather than only negatives (reducing food).

PitPat works in the same way as electronic fitness aids for humans, with data downloaded via a smartphone app. The device is attached to the dog’s collar or harness. The pet’s details are input by a vet team and the owner and the monitor will then track exercise and weight for that particular dog against targets, set by the vet team.

“It provides real-time, quantifiable data present to the owner and the veterinary team, allowing weight clinics to progress smoothly, especially now that for the time being face to face consultations may be difficult in some practices,” continued Bethany.

Myra and Bethany believe an activity monitoring system can help with exercise and weight management in four specific ways:

  • Prevention: By being given a monitor at the first consultation new owners will be able to form good weight management habits from the outset. This is especially helpful for first time owners.
  • Weight awareness: Owners can be carefully guided through the body condition scoring system which may then alert them to a weight problem rather than a vet or nurse having to raise the delicate matter
  • Owner engagement: The monitor has been shown to help encourage owners to reach weekly targets. Weight details can be entered, and the app will automatically calculate the weekly weight loss target and encourage the owner when targets are met.
  • Data sharing: The app allows the veterinary team to set the ideal weight and percentage weight change per week. The owner inputs weekly weight and the app compares it against this ideal weight, enabling the owner and the practice to track the weight loss percentage (or gain if the dog is underweight).

PitPat, the UK’s leading dog activity monitor offers a rewards scheme for Veterinary Practices while they help their clients keep their dogs fit and healthy. A Promoter Scheme is also available for small dog businesses such as trainers, groomers and walkers.

Data collected by the company has shown that there has been an 11 percent increase in playtime and 16 percent increase in dog activity overall during lockdown. The company is monitoring this closely as owners return to work and continues to promote the importance of monitoring exercise and weight to ensure the wellbeing of the nation’s dogs during and after COVID-19.

More information on the use of activity monitors in canine weight management is available online. To find out more about PitPat visit the website.

Veterinary Practice

Veterinary Practice is an online knowledge and information hub for veterinary professionals across all specialties. It provides reliable, useful and interesting content, written by expert authors and covering small animal, large animal, equine and practice management sectors of the veterinary surgeon and nursing professions.

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