Former Valley student’s new invention monitors your pet’s health

James with Homer the dog.
James with Homer the dog.

A vet who is originally from Hurst Green has invented a collar that monitors the health of pets.

The Felcana collar not only tracks exercise but can monitor how much a pet is eating and drinking, its sleeping and behavioural patterns and unusual activity such as pacing or hiding.

The Felcana collar and beacon.

The Felcana collar and beacon.

By analysing the data from the collar, the software developed by the firm alerts owners to anything that changes, giving them a chance to consult a vet much sooner than they might otherwise do and tackle problems at an early stage.

The inventors claim it will be able to detect early indicators of diabetes, obesity and arthritis.

Dr James Andrews (34), the vet who came up with the concept, attended St Joseph’s RC Primary School and Stonyhurst College at Hurst Green. James’s parents still live in the Ribble Valley in Ribchester, while James has relocated to London.

James said: “Pet behaviour can tell us a lot about pet health – for example a dog or cat might drink water four times a day when they’re healthy, but if that goes up to 20 times a day it can be an early indicator of diabetes. If they are spending longer in their bed in the morning and not running around quite as fast it can mean they are getting arthritis.

“Owners often come into vets’ surgeries thinking they know exactly what their pet was doing, but usually they don’t. On top of that, there are many pet owners who lead busy lives and use a dog walker and they want to feel more connected with their dog or cat.”

More than a third of the 8.5 million dogs in Britain are obese, while a fifth develop arthritis.

The Felcana system uses a smart collar which connects to locator beacons placed around the house and garden which monitor the pet’s movement and connect to a smartphone app. It does not monitor heart-rate, as it is too difficult to obtain accurate readings through fur.

Owners can use the app to see in real time what their pet is doing, and vets can look at historic data stored by the app to help with diagnosis. It can also show a vet whether treatment has been successful.

Dr Andrews said that as well as the benefit to individual pets, the data collected would enable the company to build up an information bank that would further veterinary research.

The company expects to launch the product in August, after showcasing it at the Duke of York’s Pitch@Palace initiative which gives entrepreneurs the chance to meet investors.

Felcana, which is based at Somerset House in London, has been given a £100,000 Government grant through Innovate UK and is currently raising the extra £500,000 it needs to begin full-scale production.