Dog's mood offers insight into owner's health

Man’s best friend may also be a secret health weapon. Researchers at Newcastle University in the U.K. are tracking dog behaviors to see if that can be used to help older people live on their own.

Using a special high-tech waterproof dog collar, researchers collected a range of data from different dog breeds, such as barking, sitting, and digging. By remotely monitoring a dog’s normal behavior, researchers have created a benchmark for comparing abnormal behavior. This advanced technology was the first of its kind to allow humans to remotely watch dogs in their natural settings, according to the researchers.

What does this have to do with health? Well, researchers hope this monitoring will help people easily spot when a dog’s behavior or mood changes, thus triggering a red flag about their owner’s own health and well-being. By spotting early signs of change – such as how they treat their animals – caregivers and relatives may get a jump on an elder loved one’s deteriorating health or mental state. The researchers’ goal is to help older people live independently for a longer period of time.

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