Responsible pet ownership should always mean making sure your pet stays happy and healthy for as long possible. From vaccinations to microchipping, annual vet check-ups to pet insurance, all these important factors help us protect our four-legged best friends.
Providing the basics- appropriate levels of food, water, exercise – sounds like it should be simple enough too, however it’s a well-recognised and reported fact that dog obesity is now a huge problem in the UK.
Sadly almost half (43%) our nation’s dogs are currently overweight, with two thirds of owners not even realising their portly pooches weigh more than they should.
Just like in humans, obesity can lead to serious health knock-on effects e.g. diabetes, heart failure, arthritis, depression; not to mention financial impact on dog owners, which all can’t be ignored.
As well as examining overweight dogs in my surgery, I also meet dogs that are too thin, with the remainder just right. Many factors can influence your dog’s weight from age, sex, breed, neutering status, exercise levels, and of course any underlying disease.
Couple that lot with such a wide range of different dog foods and treats on the market, as well as (often conflicting) dietary advice readily available online, it’s hardly surprising maintaining a perfect weight for your pooch can often pose quite a challenge!
Another factor which doesn’t help nowadays is our own shortening attention spans. As well as hundreds of TV channels, we’re now also constantly bombarded 24/7 by all sorts of information on our ever expanding variety of social media platforms.
It’s a wonder we have the time to look after ourselves properly let alone our precious pets. Vets and vet nurses are concerned this growing lack of pet health awareness will cause this pet obesity crisis to worsen.
So it’s refreshing to see Pedigree launch their new Tracks app, an easy to use tool designed to make it easier for dog owners to both feed and exercise their dogs responsibly, as well as raising much needed awareness about an easily preventable health issue.
Quick to download, and easy to install, Pedigree’s Tracks app invites your dog (or dogs) to have their own individual profile, including options to upload profile pic, as well as creating their own personalised feeding menu.
Furthermore Tracks app encourages you both to leave the house encouraging you away from your screens, and help meet your dog’s important daily exercise goals instead.
For feeding advice, unsurprisingly familiar branded Pedigree items e.g. main meal products and functional treats, are recommended, but it would be useful to have an easy option to enter calorie levels of other non-Pedigree products (e.g. special prescription diets), allowing respective amounts of other diets to be calculated accordingly.
Navigation of Pedigree’s Tracks app is easy, clear, with useful options to select type of activity from ‘indoor play’ through to ‘off the lead’. There’s also a clever option to share your dog’s progress with friends and family, as well as video tips from their training academy.
The ‘Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)’ section is another useful addition, providing quick and succinct answers to popular topics including oral care, life-stage diets, even explaining nutritional differences between wet and dry food.
The ‘Check-Up’ section encouraging owners to physically feel if their pets are the correct weight is, in my opinion, not such a great addition. As with so many factors determining weight, it’s not up to owners to make that call and any examination should always be undertaken by a veterinary professional (which is recommended after four questions – if anything should be much earlier without any suggestion of self-diagnosis.
An option to input and record weight recordings from visits to your vet to track exact progress would perhaps be more useful.
Regarding vet practices, most run free weight clinics for clients so regular checks, advice, and a potential graph function within the app, would in my opinion help better maintain your dog’s ideal weight, as well as spot early any signs of disease.
Furthermore, with so much emphasis on food and exercise – which is of course a good thing – it would be a good idea for Pedigree Tracks to include a warning to not exercise dogs too soon after their main meal; as many deep-chested breeds e.g. Setters, Dalmatians, Great Danes, are susceptible to life-threatening conditions bloat and/or gastric torsion (twisted stomach) – perhaps a ‘countdown clock to safe exercise’ button could be included in next app update?
All in all the Pedigree Tracks app seems a good ‘un – fun, educational, relevant – allowing easy monitoring of your dog’s nutrition levels and exercise, improving responsible pet ownership, meaning your dog stays healthy and happy for longer.
You can download Pedigree tracks app here.