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Doggone it — now a fitness tracker for pets

A FITBIT-style health tracker for pets has been invented by British boffins.

Owners may soon be able to track their pets’ health by monitoring their heart and breathing with the new device.

The tech created at Imperial College London provides a new way to measure vital signs without direct skin contact.

Great leap forward for pet tech: Vital signs could be measured at a doggy swim day in Gourock, Scotland

The sensor, which can measure through fur and fabric, could also help vets monitor animals during surgery, without the need for shaving them.

Study chief Dr Firat Guder said: ‘Wearables are expected to play a major role in monitoring health and detecting diseases early.

‘Our stretchy, flexible invention heralds a whole new type of sensor that can track the health of animals and humans alike over fur or clothing.’

Pawfect example: The health tracker monitors heart rate and breathing PICTURES: SWNS

The device is made from a silicone material that tightly moulds to the fur, clothing or body part it is placed on.

A built-in microphone picks up sound waves — like a stethoscope — which are transmitted to a computer.

Colleague Yasin Cotur said: ‘The sensor works like a watery stethoscope, filling any gaps between it and its subject so that no air bubbles get in and dampen the sound.’

Researchers believe the technology could allow pet owners to track their animals in real time, with integrated motion sensors allowing them to watch movements through a smartphone app.

It would show live where their pets are and whether they are standing, sitting or lying down.

The technology could even help improve the work of sniffer dogs detecting bombs and missing persons.

They are trained to sit or bark when they detect a target object like an explosive device or person stuck in rubble after an earthquake.

When dogs ‘alert’ to target objects, their heart and breathing rates increase because they are excited to be rewarded.

Researchers say the new sensor could help measure ‘alerting’ behaviour by measuring how excited the dogs are.

An inbuilt algorithm might be able to tell the strength of the dog’s reaction to the smell it detects and even work out how ‘sure’ it is of finding the desired object.

The sensors have so far been tested on dogs and humans.

Mr Cotur said: ‘The next step is to validate our system further with animals, primarily focusing on sniffer dogs and then horses and livestock later on.’

The research was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.