Whistle’s new activity tracker, Health, aims to help dog owners eliminate a lot of mystery when it comes to caring for their pet, without their buying a costly device with features they may not need. Health will track licking, scratching, eating, drinking and sleeping to monitor your dog’s overall well-being while attached to their collar.
Much like the activity trackers humans wear to get a little bit of insight into their daily movements, the Health tracker will give a more visual peek into how your dog spends their day. While I wouldn’t rely on its data as 100 perfect accurate, it looked pretty close to me during my time testing the device. It’s great for putting numbers against your gut feeling of how your dog is doing.
This isn’t Whistle’s first activity tracker. It is the company’s first one without GPS, and it’s well under $100. Some people just don’t need to locate their dog, because they’re always with them. In that case, Whistle Health retails for about $45 and drops the yearly subscription cost to $60. It’s a (mostly) economical way of getting your dog to talk to you about their day.
- Multiple weeks of battery life
- Seemingly accurate data for several areas of interest
- The device requires a subscription
- Uses Micro-USB for charging
Buy at Whistle.
Tracking a Dog’s Activity?
The five main items the Whistle Health tracks are: licking, scratching, sleeping, eating and drinking. There’s an overall wellness score that combines all those factors for a glanceable data point. The Whistle mobile app will also show a timeline of your dog’s day with periods of resting and activity highlighted.
I found all of those metrics interesting and worthwhile to know. I tried to directly compare what I saw our dog doing versus what the app was telling me. Over several weeks the data seemed to match up.
The only area of concern for our dog that Health had alerted me to had been scratching, which registered as above average. It was certainly reassuring to know his eating and drinking fell within a healthy average for dogs of his kind and size. It was also helpful to know he was getting a good amount of activity time throughout the day.
Of course, this tracker can only go so far in helping with a dog’s health. It wouldn’t have been able to help us narrow down that a specific chew treat didn’t sit well with our puppy. We simply needed to assess potential causes ourselves.
Whistle Subscription Fee
The one caveat about the low price of Health is that it, like other Whistle products, requires an ongoing subscription. The yearly cost is a little disappointing because the tracking hardware doesn’t feel like it requires a lot of on-going support to operate.
To help soften the blow of its recurring subscription fee, the plan includes the ability to chat with a veterinarian—at least for a limited time. I tried speaking with a vet about what to do with a puppy starting to mark its territory in a house. The person on the other side asked some basic follow-up questions before providing some 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 find myself thinking about using it often. If you’re constantly doing Google searches for concerns about your dog, having this feature available might be an appreciable asset.
Battery Life and Bluetooth Connection
Battery life is advertised as 20 days, though Whistle recommends charging it about once a week. Charging the device is probably the most annoying thing about it. It’s easy enough to do, but it uses an increasingly outdated Micro-USB port, so you’ll need to keep tabs on the cable it comes with. (Depending on a dog’s playful mood, too, getting it on and off the collar can become a wrestling match.)
Data syncing happens each 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 delays in the syncing process. Often it would be a day or two behind, despite being close to the tracker and keeping the app open. Even when an area like eating or sleeping would say no data had been collected, the stats would always appear at some point, just never in a noticeable pattern.
If you’re monitoring this data closely and using it for a specific purpose, any syncing delays will make the Health product less practical. If, however, you’re using it more passively to check the data every once in a while, or letting it alert you of a problem, then its syncing patterns might not be a concern.
Should You Buy Whistle Health?
I love the idea of having some basic data about my dog’s days. It’s a subtle way of letting your dog tell you how they’re doing. I can see when his bowl is empty and that he ate his food, but seeing how much he’s drinking, licking or sleeping is harder to get a gauge on. This product helps with that.
Of course, the thing I love most is that Whistle Health doesn’t cost a fortune. A retail price of under $50 feels reasonable for the type of information it provides. The caveat is the ongoing subscription fee. If that doesn’t bother your budget, then I think Whistle Health is a neat way to keep tabs on your four-legged friend.
Buy at Whistle for $44.95.
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