Researchers in the US have shown it is possible to detect skin conditions in dogs using canine activity trackers. 

The research was carried out by the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine Center for Outcomes Research and Epidemiology, Holland Management Services, Zoetis and the Pet Insight Project team at Kinship (part of Mars Petcare).

For the study, researchers recorded pet scratching activity use Whistle canine activity trackers. They then compared that information with the visual observations of 358 pet owners who graded the severity of their pet’s scratching activity on a scale from 0, which represents a normal dog (“itching is not a problem for my dog”) to 100, corresponding to extreme itching (“itching disrupts my dog’s sleep, eating, play and exercise”). 

The researchers found that measurements of scratching severity determined by the Whistle activity tracker corresponded to the owner’s overall impression of the pet’s pruritus, or itch, level. As scratching severity increased, as measured by the Whistle device, owner’s assessment scores significantly increased as well (P < 0.01).

Aletha Carson DVM, Data and Clinical Studies Senior Manager for Kinship said: “Pet owners can overlook the subtle changes in behaviour that may be a warning sign for an underlying issue and are often too late to recognise their beloved companion is suffering.

“This new method of analysing pet behaviours provides pet owners with an ‘always-on’ monitor that may be helpful in keeping their dogs healthy and happy.

“It may also prove to be quite useful for veterinarians who need an objective way to gauge a pet’s response to prescribed therapies used to reduce inflammation and scratching without requiring time-intensive monitoring from the owner.” 

Details of the research were shared at the European Veterinary Dermatology Congress on September 17, 2021.

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