Product Review: Voyce Health Monitor
High-tech health monitors are flooding the pet market and will cost you a pretty penny for tracking your dog’s vitals. Is the Voyce Health Monitor dog collar all that it’s cracked up to be? Gadget junkie Kevin Roberts is on a mission to find out if it can shed light on his dog’s health.
I admit I have a little “thing” for all things cool and gadget-y. If I can use it outdoors and with my dogs… even better. And when I first got the Voyce Health Monitor to review, I was more than happy to take it out for a through spin. In fact, this review took me about six weeks to complete, because I was dedicated to inspecting every option, function and perk that came with the collar. Yep – that’s what I call investigative journalism! I, of course, had some help from my loyal review assistant, Belle.
What is the Voyce? In a nutshell, it’s an all-around high-tech health monitoring system for your dog. Since dogs can’t tell us where it hurts, or how they slept, Voyce gives you baseline to work off of, which allows you monitor the changes in your pet’s health.
The Voyce is waterproof module mounted on an adjustable rubber collar. Your dog wears the Voyce, like a collar, around his neck. It keeps track of various elements deemed important to your dog’s overall wellbeing, including: amount of rest; monitoring resting heart and respiratory rate; calories burned; distance travelled; and amount of sunlight received. All of these factors are synched to your computer, tablet or smart phone via WiFi. In addition to the weekly updates that Voyce sends to your e-mail, you can login in anytime to check how your dog is doing.
On top of the purchasing amount for a unit ($199), monthly monitoring fees for Voyce are $9.50 a month. The monthly fee covers more than just the use of Voyce monitor system. It also allows you access to the pretty cool interactive site as well.
When I first signed up, I had the option of clicking any dog-related interests that were relevant to me. For instance, I’m interested in dog behavior, so every time I log in, there are articles about this topic Voyce thinks I would like to read. The articles are short, easy to read and always informative. I’ve spent way too much time reading these articles – but then again, I am a sucker for training tips! There really is something for everyone, with articles on how to kennel train your dog, to tips on getting ready for an agility competition.
Here are a few of the features I found most helpful:
For people who travel or employ pet sitters, this Voyce feature allows you to invite other caregivers to view your dog’s health profile. The most obvious choice for an invitation would one would be your vet. This comes in handy if something happens to your dog away from regular office hours or while travelling with your pet. It’s also a wonderful peace-of-mind feature if you’re going away and leaving your dog behind. Simply invite the kennel or pet sitter to view your dog’s profile, and they’ll have access to schedules, medications and other important info about your pooch that they need to know.
Is your dog limping? Has he eaten something he wasn’t supposed to? Voyce’s Symptom Checker offers a second opinion. We all know that living with a dog, accidents can and do happen. You second guess yourself, and aren’t sure whether you should wait until morning, or rush to the emergency veterinarian.
The Symptom Checker is a really cool feature, as it allows you to search your dog’s particular symptoms and advises on when and if you need to seek medical attention. If you’re like me, Doctor Google is the worst thing I can do if I am worried about my dog: “OMG! My dog does have this incredible rare disease that’s only been seen in mythical creatures!” In the end, I needlessly stress out to the generic or completely off-base search results.
Thankfully, Belle didn’t need any immediate symptom checking, and reminded healthy for the duration of this test. But I wanted to see how it worked, so I went through a number of previous scenarios on the Symptom Checker. All of the advice Voyce offered was helpful and delivered in a calm manner. Had I been faced with a real need for the Symptom Checker, I would have been in good hands!
What’s the Secret Password?
I can’t remember my passwords. At all. So it’s little wonder that within a week of signing up with VOYCE, I lost… er, forgot… my password! In my defense, I had it written down on a little piece of paper. Which I lost. Not a problem, says Voyce! Unlike some other sites, which get all judge-y and make you pass weird security tests (I’m not going to name any names… FACEBOOK!), Voyce was simple to reset, without any of the shaming. I was safely and securely logged back in, and I wrote my new password down on a bigger piece of paper… which I put in my super safe, passwords-on-paper file, stored in a never-ending black hole.
And here are a couple of things that need tweaked:
One thing Voyce did not like was the cold. I left it out in below freezing temps (that’s about 32°F) for a few nights, and it was sluggish and unresponsive in the morning. Hmmm… this also happens to some people I know. I wonder how the Voyce takes its coffee.
Granted, the Voyce wasn’t on Belle at those times, as she much prefers to sleep inside with me (smart dog). The reason why this is important to me is because the pack and I like to camp in the fall and winter seasons. On the nights we were camping in frigid temperatures while testing the product, her body heat was enough to keep the Voyce running smoothly. Exposure to colder weather did reduce the battery life; it’s supposed to last 7 days without needing a charge, but in the cold temperature, that number lowered to 4 to 5 days.
Collar Scratches Easily
Belle is my most gentle dog. Her toys last forever, and unlike my other dogs, she has never snapped a leash. Due to her careful temperament, it surprised me that after the third day I noticed that the rubber part of the collar had scratches on it. At first I thought it was simply dirt or discolouring, as Belle had been swimming a lot. But these scratches were caused by her running through the bush, paw scratching and general doggy wear and tear. It didn’t take long for the rubber to be completely scratched up – a fabric strip or scratch-resistant material would be a great addition for the next generation of Voyce products.
Lack of ID/Leash Attachment
This collar has pretty much everything you could possibly want on it, except for two obvious things. I need a collar that has a place to attach ID tags and a leash. Belle spends her time lying around on her bed, chasing discs, or pulling in her harness. So while leash walks are only a small part of our day, she had to wear the Voyce, plus her regular collar, while we took a stroll. She isn’t a big dog, and we’re working with limited neck space here. A clip for a leash and ID tags would have makes sense to attach to the Voyce.
(Editor’s Note: Voyce just let us know that the next generation Voyce slated to launch Fall 2016 will have scratch resistant material as well as an ID and leash attachment.)
This is a pretty cool piece of technology. If I was a first-time pet parent, had a dog with health concerns, or was leaving a dog with a caregiver during the day, I would recommend that you should be all over the Voyce.
A first-time pet parent would get a lot of peace of mind out of the Symptom Checker. Seriously, things are going to happen, and $9.50 a month is way cheaper than an unnecessary trip to the vet, or worse, not taking the trip to the vet when you should have. It’s a judgement call, and if this is your first time on the other end of the leash, it can be a bit nerve wracking.
If you have adopted a dog with health concerns, I salute you! If you have a dog who has developed health concerns along the way, my heart goes out to you. Either way, it’s hard to be a nurse to a patient who can’t tell you how they are feeling. Establishing a baseline and being able to monitor it from your phone or computer is a smart choice, and will also collect valuable information that you can share with your veterinarian.
My dogs don’t attend doggy daycare. Quite simply, when I leave the house, they need the rest (we live a pretty active lifestyle.) But if I spent money on daycare, I expect them to come home tired. That’s where the collar comes in. I would log in and see just how active my dogs have been during the day, and also ensure that they’re getting a chance to rest as well.
Is this collar awesome? Yes! Does it have some cool features? Yes! Does it need a few tweaks? Yes. If you are a techie who’s all about their dog, Voyce is one gadget you’re going to have to get!
Note: PetGuide.com was NOT compensated for this review. Our reviewer received one Voyce Health Monitoring unit to review. The opinions expressed in this post are the author’s. We provide unbiased feedback of the products and share products we think our readers would enjoy using and learning more about.