Pets? Yes, there are apps for them too

This Christmas I was one of the many of lucky folks who found an iPad mini under the tree! It was all I wanted, and I’m already wondering what I did without one. I spent a little time over the holidays looking into various apps that I could adorn my new gadget with. In addition to the various games for the kids, a neat way to track my exercise routine and another to help with the household budget, (it was of course a lack of having the right “app for that” that had my perennial resolutions of getting more exercise and getting the credit cards paid down fizzle out by March), I found many useful, and some not so useful but nonetheless fun apps for pet owners.

So rather than write about a seasonal or other timely threat or concern for our neighbourhood cats and dogs, I thought I would mention a few of the more interesting ones I stumbled across. By no means is this an exhaustive list, nor am I out to review these apps other than to say I do know that the more ‘serious’ ones come from reputable sources. There are plenty of reviews online if any of these grab your attention. All are either free or cost only a few dollars.

Fun Apps

Dogbook: FREE. As the name suggests is more or less a Facebook for dogs. After creating a profile for your pooch they are assigned a ‘dogtag’ which is their unique user ID. Once set up you can then post pictures, check in at the local park, enter contests and review the ‘dogbook daily’ for tips and information for dog owners. The website claims they have over 3.5 million dogs registered. At no cost it’s worth checking out, but it may not be for everyone!

Game for cats: FREE. This app is pure entertainment for cats, and judging from the reviews, really works. Basically it replaces the old laser pointer for getting your cat to chase an object moving at random. Personally I’m not so sure I’m ready to have my cat swatting at my new iPad, but there seem to be no negative reviews about any damage and lots of positive ones about how much fun it seems for the kitties!

Petmobi: FREE. This app claims to keep your pet fit and healthy! What more could you want right? The app is designed to allow you to track your pets exercise, track weight loss and daily caloric intake from a database of thousands of pet foods and also features some social networking; sharing updates and connecting with other pet owners.

Useful Apps

Dog Park Finder Plus: $4.99. This is the most costly of the apps I looked at, but for the right person could come in really handy. The app offers a search function using address or postal / ZIP code input or uses your current location to provide maps of dog parks throughout North America. Click on the park you’re interested in and it brings up pictures, reviews and features such as whether a park is fenced or not, access to washrooms, directions and maps and links to the park website. It features over 6,000 parks, beaches and trails with over 50 featured in Toronto. I would find this very useful when visiting another city or if I wanted to take my dog to a part of this city I wasn’t familiar with.

Dog Friendly mobile: FREE. Perfect for the frequent traveller, or even for a one off trip. This app features thousands of dog friendly accommodations, stores, attractions, beaches and parks. It also includes contact information for emergency veterinary services in each location. There is a section for airline regulations, but I would strongly recommend that anyone planning flying with their pet contact the airline directly as these regulations seem to change often.

Pet poison helpline: $1.99.  This app is available only for the iPhone and not the iPad but is worth a special mention. This is a very comprehensive and reliable source for information on various toxins that can affect pets. It includes a searchable database of over 250 poisonous plants, medications, and household items, all with pictures, which is especially useful for plants. As well as describing how the toxin affects your pet, it gives instructions on what to do following exposure. The app was created by the Pet Poison Hotline in Minneapolis, which is the go-to resource for veterinarians dealing with toxin exposure in North America and includes a feature to call them directly from the app in an emergency.

Humane Society of Canada: FREE. This is a worthwhile educational app. Learn how to get involved and stay up to date with animal rescue and cruelty prevention.

MyPetED: $1.99. Created by Canadian company Lifelearn Inc, who have provided client education tools for veterinarians for many years, this app allows pet owners to create profiles of their pets to record all their pertinent medical details. It gives access to numerous educational articles on pet care and has a feature for storing your vet’s info as well as searching for other vets by location throughout North America. It also has a feature to post a lost pet alert and another to allow you to search for pets available for adoption at local shelters.

Of course there were many other apps that could have made this list, and I’m sure that many are also available for Android and other devices.  With the majority being either free or less than a cup of coffee, it’s worth checking a few out to see what works for you. Have fun!

Dr. Nigel Skinner

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