Like most pet parents, my husband and I make sure we give our dog Jack everything he needs—and most of what he wants (that chocolate ice cream he’s begging for is still off limits). But at a recent vet visit, we learned that we might be giving him a little too much.

Jack’s half-beagle, and a rescue dog, so he’s even more obsessed with food than most pups. And it’s hard to say no to those big brown eyes, that adorable tilted head and those floppy ears. So when our vet told us that Jack needed to lose 3 pounds (it may not sound like a lot, but that’s 10 percent of his total weight), we knew we had to do the right thing for our boy.

We started by cutting back on treats and Jack’s nutritious but high-calorie dog food. After a few months, he had lost just 1 pound. We were a bit discouraged, but our vet explained that it’s actually really hard for even the most conscientious pet owner to help their dog lose weight through food portioning alone. This is because the dog’s metabolism quickly adjusts to their new intake and it can take a long time for them to lose even a fraction of a pound. Add to this the fact that you can only cut back so much on your dog’s food without risking the possibility of not meeting their daily caloric and nutritional needs, and you’ve got a frustrated pet owner and a dog who still needs to lose a few pounds.

This is where simple, seamless technology comes in. Food is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to Jack’s weight. What about his energy expenditure? I can guess, but I actually am not at all sure exactly how much time Jack spends being active each day, even though I am with him for much of that time. It would be so helpful if we could effectively measure exactly how much exercise Jack is getting, either when he’s with us or when he’s at doggie day care, so we can estimate how much more activity he might need to help him reach his ideal weight. How long is he playing every day? When he’s at day care, how many hours of activity is he truly getting? And what about our walks? I have a device that shows me how many steps I’ve taken and how long I’m active during the day, but I have no idea how to estimate Jack’s activity level without a little help.

Our dog’s well-being is critically important to us, and as his pet parents, we want to do everything we possibly can to make sure he lives a long and happy life. Platforms such as FitBark make it easier for us to give Jack the gift of optimum health in return for everything he gives to us.


About the author

Rebecca Del Giudice is a a writer and web consultant in Boston, MA.