One of the biggest technology trends happening now is the rise of health and fitness wearables and apps. With the touch of a button–literally–we can get a workout plan, track miles, count calories, and check our heart rate right in the palm of our hand. And good news for our furry family members: Tech tools for their health are on the rise too! We caught up with Steve Pelletier, Founder & CEO of the SlimDoggy App, to chat about this trend and how his work helps dogs around the world.
LA-based Steve Pelletier is a self-described “analytical data geek.” After majoring in applied math and economics in college, he worked as an economist for the Reagan Administration, a derivatives trader on Wall Street and a software entrepreneur. He is also a proponent of healthy lifestyles for both humans and pets. After adopting Jack, an “unadoptable” obese, anxious and irritable yellow lab requiring medication, in August of 2011, he knew he had to find a way to improve the dog’s health and quality of life—and he was going to use the power of data to do so.
“Drawing on my ‘numbers’-focused background and using scientific research and guidance from his vet,” Steve said, “I created algorithms to determine optimal foods and portion sizes based on Jack’s ancestry, health history and daily activity. Within three months, Jack was down to 85 pounds, off of both medications, and is now a happy and healthy dog.”
Through helping Jack regain his health, Steve learned that more than half of dogs and cats in the US are overweight (according to the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention) and found that using data to help inform pet owners of proper feeding was a resource missing from the pet products market. Part of the problem, he said, is that pet food labels are complicated and hard to read.
When it comes to pet health, Steve stresses watching your pets’ diets and avoid overfeeding or misfeeding for two key reasons:
Quality food in the proper portions increases your pet’s lifespan and reduces his or her chances of illness. “In a landmark study, Purina found that lean littermates lived almost two years longer than overweight ones,” he said. “That is the equivalent of an average American living an extra 11-12 years!”
The financial cost of a poor pet diet is large. “Think about how much money can be saved on vet bills and medicine. Feeding too much food or low quality food with artificial ingredients and fillers can increase disease risk and vet bills,” Steve said. “Diseases like diabetes, arthritis, gastrointestinal issues, and even some forms of cancer are linked to overfeeding and feeding food that is not species appropriate. For example, cats with Type 2 Diabetes, which is a disease provoked by over feeding can cost a pet owner over $1,000 per year on treatments.”
It was for these reasons Steve decided to launch SlimDoggy, an iPhone lifestyle app that lets dog owners estimate calories burned during their dogs’ activity to help determine the proper food portions, “sort of like a RunKeeper and Weight Watchers for dogs,” he said. “Collecting data on thousands of foods and treats, I was able to create mathematics that simplify the food analysis and make recommendations based on pet information, like allergies, activity levels, etcetera.” Since its launch in late 2012, SlimDoggy has been downloaded “many thousands” of times.
According to SlimDoggy.com, “The SlimDoggy App contains a calorie database of about 2,000 dog foods and allows the tracking of the dog’s activity each day. You can input the amount of food you feed them each day and their activity levels and SlimDoggy tells you automatically whether you are overfeeding or underfeeding.” SlimDoggy also donates a portion of revenue to dog rescue organizations in need and “is committed to addressing both the obesity problem and the dog abandonment problem we have in the US.”
And SlimDoggy isn’t the only pet tech product of note. “It is an exciting time to be in the ‘pet tech’ space,” Steve said. “Smart products and sensors are appearing in the market, including the Petnet SmartFeeder, and a host of wearable devices.” After meeting Petnet CEO Carlos Herrera and working as vendor partners, Steve said they “realized that together we could better execute the big vision: To radically change the way pet food is served, evaluated, and purchased, all the while helping to keep pets as healthy as possible.”
Together, SlimDoggy and Petnet are working toward the simple goal of helping pet owners make good pet food choices. To Steve, success means “pet owners will be feeding better food to their pets, spending less time at the store shopping, and spending less time and money at the vet treating diet and weight related diseases,” and their pets will live longer, healthier lives.
To better manage your dogs eating habits and activity, download the SlimDoggy app from the iTunes store:
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