How Artificial Intelligence is Changing Pet Ownership

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on February 16th, 2024

As you’re reading this, you may be playing a game of fetch with your dog, giving him belly scratches, or, maybe even picking up his poop with a baggie. These are all such tangible, real world experiences that make dog ownership special. So, we get it why the mere mention of things like artificial intelligence (AI) and pets in the same sentence can make people feel anxious. 

But, the fact of the matter is, AI is here and it’s already changing the way we care for our pets. And, there are some pros and potential cons that we may want to keep our eyes on. In this article, we’ll cover a few of the tech advances that are in place and what they could mean for you and your pup!

AI and the vet world
One of the most compelling and positive developments in the pet care industry has to do with AI and veterinary medicine. For example, this technology is being used to conduct faster analyses of x-rays, a task that is sorely needed given the fact that we’re experiencing a global veterinary radiologist shortage. 

AI may also be able to help veterinarians run more thorough diagnostics by running a pet’s medical history and symptoms through processing software. In other words, as much knowledge and experience as your veterinarian has, it can still be helpful for them to use a program that would offer something like a second opinion. Not to mention, this would be much faster than consulting with another veterinarian in the field.

Finally, AI could start to play a larger role in veterinary clinic administration. From chatbots to automatic reminders for upcoming appointments to staff scheduling, AI can take on the brunt of administrative work. The result, if done well, could mean more time for a vet to focus on clients.

AI at home
It’s not just in the vet clinic that AI is being used to interpret pet health. Home devices can be used to track and analyze pet behavior faster and more accurately than we as dog owners can. After all, how many times have we turned to the internet to search things like, “Why is my dog licking her elbow?” or “Why does my dog cough like that?” With data collecting devices, we would have possible answers to these questions maybe even before we’ve noticed the behavior ourselves. Smart litter boxes are already incorporating this kind of data analysis by keeping track of your cat’s weight and bathroom habits.

A computer for your canine
There are also ideas for devices that could play a more active role in our dogs’ lives than simply collecting data. Think Rumba for your pet: a device that could give them food and water, check in with their emotional state, offer them mental enrichment when they’re bored, and contact you in the case of an emergency.

This kind of device could even be used for training. Tech journalists in Australia are covering the upcoming launch of a device called the Companion, a robot that uses sounds, treats, and lights to guide a dog through a training session. With AI, the bot can interact with and adjust the training session based on progress, boredom and confusion of your dog. According to the company, the benefits of AI-based training include more precise communication, effective positive reinforcement, and enjoyable mental stimulation for your dog.

AI in the world
We truly wouldn’t be able to list all of the ways that AI is already overlapping or will overlap with your life as a pet owner. This tech is being used to make your local dog park more energy efficient, helping pet sitters promote their business, and writing eye-catching bios for pets in adoption.

Potential pitfalls of AI
As much as AI has the potential for making our pets happier and safer, it’s not without potential risks. Here are a few of the things we should keep in mind when thinking about this technology:

A professional veterinarian diagnosis should always take priority
Even though AI may get to a point where we can monitor our pets’ health from home, that doesn’t mean that we should forgo veterinary check-ups and care. After all, this technology is in its infancy, and should not take the place of professional medical advice.

AI can help with training, but we still think you should take an active role in the training process
Even though AI may be able to teach your dog to sit, stay, and bark on command, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t pass over the reins to a training robot completely. The most obvious reason being that you will want your dog to respond to you while out in the real world. Plus, training between a dog and owner can foster a strong emotional bond that is beneficial to you both.

Your dog is ALWAYS going to want your attention over a robot’s
The relationship we have with dogs is thousands of years in the making. So, it’s a bit silly to think that our dogs are going to be content with a robotic game over an interactive play session with their favorite human. 

In other words, while AI may be able to fill in the gaps when we’re unable to give our dogs all of the attention we would like to, we should still strive to meet our dogs’ need for connection.

What do you think about AI and dog ownership?
In this article, we’ve covered some of the ways that artificial intelligence is beginning to take root in the world of pet ownership. Are you optimistic about the changes? Or will you stick with a more traditional approach to being a dog owner?

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