While we’ve been busily blogging about mHealth, it turns out the whole industry is going to the dogs – and horses. From simple pet activity monitors to a mobile ECG for horse vets, veterinary mHealth is evolving.

The fact that veterinary mHealth started with pets shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – more than 60 million American households own at least one pet and 46 million have a dog. According to the American Pet Products Association, American pet care is estimated to have cost $55.3 billion in 2013, with half of those expenses coming from vet care and medicines. We spend a lot on our best friends, so mHealth for pets is a potentially lucrative market.

Early products were mostly pet monitors, which have evolved from simple tracking devices to collars that measure activity and collecting vital signs like heart rate and breathing. In fact, some of these apps – like Voyce, FitBark, and Tractive – are hard to distinguish from equivalent human fitness trackers.

Voyce will not only monitor your pet’s vital signs, but also store a medical record and send you appointment and medication reminders. It’s hard to know if the website is speaking to pet or owner when they write, “Create a weight loss activity plan by setting reminders and goals. Then track your progress by keeping an eye on calories burned and activity.”

According to Tractive’s CEO Michael Hurnaus and the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, “There are more than 170 million dogs and cats in the U.S. alone, with over 50 percent being overweight or obese.

Putting activity monitors on overweight dogs seems like an intuitive first step, but veterinary mHealth has gone significantly further. Browse a list of apps and you’ll find everything from Canine Opthomology to ThermalAid – “A tool to identify, monitor, and reduce heat stress in cattle to improve welfare and performance.” Veterinarians can use their smartphone to learn Dog CPR, reference Equine AcuPoints, and download a free app that helps them make calculations for pet IV fluids.

One product that exemplifies where the industry might be headed is the AliveCor Veterinary Heart Monitor for iPhone, which beat the human product to the market. While the company waited for FDA clearance for its AliveCor Mobile ECG, the Veterinary ECG was released in 2012. You can catch a glimpse of it in Apple’s ‘You’re more powerful than you think’ video ad series, which profiles vets using the app.

Apple’s iPhone 5s video ad features AliveCor’s vetrinary ECG

A new initiative in the UK also shows that mHealth isn’t just catering to anxious pet owners. As mHealthNews reported in March, remote monitoring technology is being extended for use with livestock.

London-based Zoetis recently announced its launch of The Center for Digital Innovation, a digital health platform with the goal of creating a personal health record for every animal in the UK. The company launched its PetDialog app in 2014, which (similar to Voyce) uses collar monitors to keep tabs on pet health. The new initiative is developing the technology for livestock to “enable data-driven decision-making and precision farming.”

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