Whistle’s new activity tracker, Health, aims to help dog owners unravel many mysteries when it comes to caring for their pet without having to buy an expensive device with features they may not need. Health tracks licking, scratching, eating, drinking and sleeping to monitor your dog’s overall well-being while attached to their collar.
Much like the activity trackers people wear to get a glimpse of their daily movements, the health tracker gives a more visual glimpse into how your dog is going about his day. While I wouldn’t rely on his data to be 100x accurate, they looked pretty close to me during my testing time. It’s great for putting numbers against your gut on how your dog is doing.
This isn’t Whistle’s first activity tracker. It’s the company’s first without GPS and costs well under $100. Some people just don’t need to track their dog because they’re always with them. In this case, Whistle Health costs around $45, bringing the annual subscription cost down to $60. It’s a (mostly) inexpensive way to get your dog talking to you about their day.
- Battery life of several weeks
- Seemingly accurate data for multiple areas of interest
- The device requires a subscription
- Uses micro USB for charging
Buy at pipe.
Track a dog’s activity?
The five main points Whistle Health tracks are: Licking, Scratching, Sleeping, Eating and Drinking. There is a general wellness score that combines all of these factors into one manageable data point. The Whistle Mobile App also shows a timeline of your dog’s day with periods of rest and activity highlighted.
I found all of these metrics interesting and worth knowing. I tried to directly compare what I saw our dog doing to what the app was telling me. For several weeks, the data seemed to be correct.
The only area of concern for our dog that health had brought to my attention was scratching, which was registered as above average. It was certainly reassuring to know that his food and drink were within healthy averages for dogs of his type and size. It also helped to know that he was getting a good amount of activity time throughout the day.
Of course, this tracker can only go so far in helping a dog’s health. It couldn’t have helped us narrow down that a particular chew treat wasn’t a good fit for our pup. We only had to assess possible causes ourselves.
Whistle Subscription Fee
The only downside to Health’s low price is that, like other Whistle products, it requires an ongoing subscription. The annual cost is a little disappointing as the tracking hardware doesn’t feel like it needs much ongoing support to run.
To soften the blow of the recurring subscription fee, the plan includes the ability to chat with a vet — at least for a limited time. I’ve been trying to talk to a vet about what to do with a puppy that’s starting to mark its territory in a home. The person on the other hand asked some basic follow-up questions before providing useful information. After the chat ended, a follow-up article on the topic was sent along with a transcript of the interaction.
The vet support option was helpful, but I don’t think about using it often. If you’re constantly doing Google searches for concerns about your dog, the availability of this feature could be of great benefit.
Battery life and Bluetooth connection
Battery life is claimed to be 20 days, although Whistle recommends charging it about once a week. Charging the device is probably the most annoying part. It’s simple enough, but it uses an increasingly outdated micro-USB connector, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the included cable. (Depending on a dog’s playful mood, putting the collar on and off can become a wrestling match.)
Data syncing occurs every time you open the Whistle app and are within a few feet of the tracker. It takes about a week for the Whistle app to get a baseline of your dog’s stats. But even after a week, I noticed some lags in the syncing process. Often it was a day or two behind even though it was close to the tracker and the app stayed open. Even if an area like food or sleep said no data was collected, the stats always showed up eventually, just never in a noticeable pattern.
If you monitor this data closely and use it for a specific purpose, delays in syncing make the healthcare product less useful. However, if you use it more passively to check the data from time to time, or let it alert you to a problem, the sync patterns might not be an issue.
Should You Buy Whistle Health?
I love the idea of having some basic data on my dog’s days. It’s a subtle way of letting your dog tell you how he’s doing. I can see when his bowl is empty and that he’s eaten his food, but seeing how much he’s drinking, licking, or sleeping is more difficult to measure. This product helps with that.
Of course, what I love most is that Whistle Health doesn’t cost a fortune. A retail price of less than $50 seems reasonable for the type of information provided. The caveat is the ongoing subscription fee. If that doesn’t break your budget, then I think Whistle Health is a nice way to keep an eye on your four-legged friend.
Buy at Whistle for $44.95.
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