Dog Lovers: Six Reasons to Get “Appy!”

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Smart phones have changed daily life for all of us, and it seems like there’s an app for everything. This is particularly good news for dog lovers! One of the very first apps I had on my phone was for my dog Rio’s veterinarian. With the hospital’s app, I can schedule appointments, keep track of Rio’s health records, order dog food, join the loyalty program and take and post selfies with my pooch.

But veterinary apps are just one time-saving possibility. There are lots of apps that not only make our lives easier, but also help keep our dogs happy and healthy, raise money for good causes and are just plain fun! 

Bring Fido – We all love to travel with our dogs as much as possible, and this app is great for finding dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, parks and other resources. On a recent trip to Colorado’s Vail Valley, the Bring Fido app helped us find an off-leash dog park and the nearby pet-friendly Crazy Mountain Brewery, where there were lots of friendly dogs socializing and happy people drinking beer. The bartender even gave Rio a special treat made from brewery grains and peanut butter. What’s not to love?

Weather Puppy – Want to know what the weather is like before you head outside for a walk or a hike? This app lets you know the current weather and up to a 10-day forecast, which is superimposed on a photo of an adorable dog. There are over 700 doggie photos and you can also add your own. I never used to check the weather because Rio demands a walk even in rain, sleet or snow, but I love checking this app before our morning hike because the photos of pups always make me smile. No matter the weather, the forecast calls for cuteness!

Pet First Aid by the American Red Cross – There is a ton of information on this app to help keep your dog safe, including a “What’s normal” section with questions like, “How can I determine if my dog is dehydrated?” (Answer: “Pull up on the skin between the shoulder blades and it should spring right back. If it stays tented this is a sign of dehydration.” Who knew?) Then there’s an alphabetical list of various emergencies ranging from choking and car accidents to seizures and wounds. There are quizzes to test your knowledge, and an emergency page that includes a hospital finder – it locates the nearest veterinary hospital accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, a nonprofit that sets high standards for care. You can also input your own veterinarian’s phone number in case the problem arises near home. 

APCC from ASPCA – The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) app is another terrific emergency preparedness app, and is easy to navigate. You pick the species of pet – dog, cat, bird or horse – and then subcategories of toxins pop up, including plants, foods, medications, cold and warm weather hazards and household hazards. This is the app to have if your dog, say, eats chocolate, licks antifreeze or discovers a tray of marijuana brownies. With the app, you can touch a link to call the ASPCA’s 24-hour Animal Poison Control hotline. (If symptoms are severe, your first call should be to your veterinarian, of course.)

Walk for a Dog by WoofTrax – I am a huge fan of this app. It’s “dog-powered fundraising” – every time you take a walk with your dog, WoofTrax makes a donation to your local animal shelter. You just click “Start walking” and the app tracks your route and calculates your speed, distance and time spent walking. Over 3 million walks have been taken for 6,000 shelters in all 50 states! The PeaceJam Foundation awarded WoofTrax the 2015 Hero Award for “Best Business Act” because of the “Walk for a Dog” app. Fitness meets fundraising!

PetFinder – My husband and I found Rio through Petfinder.com, so I was excited to learn they have an app too. It provides a searchable database of hundreds of thousands of adoptable dogs, cats and other pets throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, in case you want to adopt a dog or help a friend see adoptable dogs in your region. You can search by location or organization (over 13,000 animal shelters participate, and pages are updated daily), and narrow your search to the dogs’ gender, age or breed. You can also read happy adoption stories and browse the dog breed guide. There are so many amazing dogs out there waiting for their forever homes!


Freelance journalist Jen Reeder and her Lab mix, Rio, have logged over 350 miles with the Walk for a Dog app to benefit Blackhat Humane Society. Jen makes sure to “fuel the love” on hikes by giving Rio lots of Zuke’s Power Bones.