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When I first started writing about pet apps back in 2009, they were considered trendy playthings for the tech set and hadn't yet been adopted by most pet owners. As such, there wasn’t much to be said for what few rudimentary animal-themed apps had eked their way into the marketplace.
Fast-forward to 2012 when I penned a post on the subject right here on vetstreet.com. It detailed a few fun apps, most of which were designed to lend you some basic assistance on pet wellness, behavior, travel and more. They were helpful, to be sure, but they were few and far between.
Nowadays, there are oodles of pet apps. So many, in fact, they’re hard to filter through. Trust me, I’ve tried. What’s worse is that many of them are, to put it bluntly, dogs. They don’t offer much functionality beyond simple social media links or a cache of reference material you might more easily access on your tablet.
Sure, they’re cool, especially since they can be accessed immediately (we love immediacy). But are they actually useful? Never fear, I have found some interesting and truly useful apps. Here are eight, listed by category.
If your pet is actually in an emergency situation, don’t waste time scrolling through an app — see your veterinarian immediately. I mean, if your cat is bleeding, you’re not about to read all about the possible causes, right? You’re going to the vet. And if your pet has eaten one of your blood pressure pills, you may try to look it up on an app, but you’re more likely to get a faster and more accurate answer by calling your veterinarian or a pet poison hotline.
For this reason, I treat these pet health care apps more like references to be read in advance of an emergency than an actual in-the-moment resource. Which is a useful, if more limited, function than these apps claim to offer. The best of these include...
Pet First Aid by American Red Cross:This reference tool offers the most comprehensive emergency care information of any app I’ve looked at. The CPR section is especially complete.
Animal Poison Control Center Mobile App: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' (ASPCA) Poison Control Center offers this handy reference tool. It’s got all kinds of interesting stuff to look at and may just help you ID that potentially poisonous plant you’ve been worrying about. I particularly like its “rodentislide” function, which helps you assess the possibility and degree of rat poisoning based on the product your pet may have consumed, and its “chocolate wheel,” which makes it easy to tell which signs you can expect based on the quantity and type of chocolate your pet may have ingested.
ASPCA Mobile App:In the event of a natural disaster, this one promises that you’ll be able to “access critical advice on what to do with your pet before, during and after a major storm — even if there’s no data connectivity.” It also offers some missing pet functionality (helps you post fliers on social media) and brings you “the latest” animal welfare news.
The remaining apps are primarily for use with dogs.
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