As a relatively new pet owner, I often wonder if my dog is getting enough exercise and the right amount of food. The Whistle FIT ($79.95 plus a yearly subscription) attaches to your cat or dog’s collar to track their activity, calories burned, distance, and rest. It then connects to an app to show your pet’s progress toward personalized activity goals, let you set reminders about medicine and vet visits, and offer food portion recommendations. It also tracks your pet’s licking and scratching to notify you of potential medical issues. And due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Whistle is offering free on-demand televet consultations. This all make the FIT a terrific pet tracker for anyone who doesn’t need location tracking.
Design, Features, and Specs
The FIT is Whistle’s most affordable model. It offers the same health and fitness features you get with the $99.95 GO and the $129.95 GO Explore, but it lacks GPS, cellular location tracking, and escape alerts. Whistle says it created the FIT based on feedback from pet owners who aren’t interested in location tracking, but want the health and fitness features.
The idea behind the FIT is to help you catch potential medical issues early. Whistle says that says that nearly 60 percent of dogs in the US are overweight or obese, which can cut 2.5 years off their life.
The FIT monitors your pet’s daily activity, licking, scratching, and sleep, and a companion app can send you a notification if it detects a change in its behavior patterns. Whistle says increased scratching can indicate a skin infection, while excessive licking can be a sign of anxiety or other physical or mental issues.
The Whistle app (for Android and iOS) shows a timeline of your pet’s activity and its progress toward daily goals. A handy Food Portion Calculator tells you exactly how much your pet should be eating each day to maintain optimal health. The app also generates a monthly health report with a detailed analysis of your pet’s licking and scratching metrics that you can email to your vet. If you have questions about your pet’s health or nutrition, you can chat with a vet via the app.
In terms of design, the FIT tracker measures 1.6 by 1.4 by 0.4 inches (HWD) and weighs just half an ounce. It has a Velcro strap that firmly attaches to collars up to 1-inch wide.
As for battery life, Whistle says it lasts up to 15 days on a single charge. In testing, it went down just 17 percent after three days. When the battery is running low, the app will let you know. It recharges in less than 90 minutes.
The Whistle FIT is rated IPX7, meaning it’s safe in up to three feet of water. Whistle recommends rinsing and drying it regularly, especially after swimming.
To set up the FIT, just plug the included charging cable into its micro USB port and wait for the LED to light up. An orange light means it’s charging, blue means it’s syncing, and green means it’s charged.
From there, download the Whistle app and follow the on-screen instructions to connect the tracker to your phone via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. From there, you’ll enter your pet’s name, gender, and whether it’s neutered. You then upload a photo of your pet and select its breed, age, and weight. The app also asks you to select its body composition from “very thin” to “obese.”
You then need to purchase a service plan. The plan for the FIT costs $35.40 per year (which works out to $2.95 per month), and includes 24/7 activity and sleep tracking, medical issue monitoring, and on-demand access to veterinarians during COVID-19. For comparison, Whistle’s other models that include location tracking start at $9.95 per month, and go down if you sign up for one- or two-year plans.
The FIT doesn’t have a screen, so you view all the data it collects in the Whistle app. The app is simple and intuitive, with four major sections: Activity, Health, Pet, and Human. After you input your pet’s stats, the app gives it a daily activity goal. If you find the recommended activity goal too ambitious or easy, you can change it in the Pet section.
In the main Activity menu, there’s a ring around your pet’s photo showing its progress toward its daily goal. Under that is a timeline showing exactly what it was doing and when. Atop the timeline, it shows the date and time it was last updated. In testing, the FIT had no problem syncing the data it collected to the app.
In the Health section, you can see insights about your pet’s licking and scratching. After collecting seven days’ worth of data, it shows whether your pet’s licking and scratching levels are elevated, infrequent, occasional, or severe.
Here, you can also access Whistle’s televet feature. Whistle says this feature is intended “to provide quick advice when you need it and help you decide whether an in-person vet visit is the next best step.” A Whistle spokesperson tells me that the company has not yet set a price for this feature since it’s so new. For now, it’s free with your subscription.
In the Pet section, you can access the Food Portion Calculator, create reminders for things like vet checkups and grooming, and view all-time stats and achievements. The FIT awards your pet’s achievements for things like meeting fitness goals every day for a week, or traveling five miles. The all-time stats show average daily activity minutes, calorie burn, distance traveled, and sleep hours, as well as your pet’s longest streak meeting its goals and its most active day.
To get a food portion recommendation, you enter your pet’s weight, select its body composition, select the type of food it eats, and Whistle tells you exactly how much to feed it. If your pet is still growing, the recommendation can change weekly, the app says. The Food Portion Calculator also includes a handy calorie estimator for typical treats like hot dogs and jerky.
In the Human section, you can access the Help Center and Settings, where you can do things like enable push notifications about health status changes.
My Experience With the Whistle FIT
I used the FIT with my dog Bradley, a two-year-old, 45-pound pitbull. The app says that pets similar to him get around 38 to 75 minutes of activity per day, and set his activity goal at 57 minutes.
Between his two daily walks, and all the time he spends playing, Bradley has had no trouble meeting his daily activity goal. One day he was playing in the backyard for so long that he doubled it. In his first three days testing the FIT, Bradley earned three badges: 1st Goal, 5 Miles Traveled, and 2X Goal.
The first time I checked the app after getting it set up, I was amazed that the FIT automatically and accurately detected when Brad was playing. It can also automatically detect when your pet is running, walking, and sleeping, as well as “low activity,” like when your pet is ambling around the house. It only awards activity minutes for time spent playing, running, and walking.
The activity ring in the app shows your pet’s progress toward its goal and makes it easy to see if it is getting enough exercise throughout the day. If I see that Brad’s activity minutes are low, it motivates me to spend some time playing with him, or go a little farther when taking him for a walk. When I’m not at home, I can glance at the timeline to see if he’s sleeping or active.
One of the most useful features of the Whistle app is the ability to chat with a vet via email, phone, text, or video. I needed to use this feature when Brad developed a skin issue and his regular vet was closed. He had a big bump on his neck that opened and started to bleed, and a number of smaller bumps around it. Of course I was worried sick, and I initiated a text chat with a vet via the Whistle app.
The app connected me to a vet within minutes. I explained what was going on, and sent photos of the area in question. The vet asked a couple of follow-up questions, then said it could be a possible infection. They recommended I take Brad’s collar off, bathe him with a medicated shampoo, and take him to his vet for medicine within 24 hours. Most helpful, they said I didn’t need to take him to the emergency hospital that day, which put my mind at ease.
As instructed, I took Brad to the vet first thing in the morning. The vet confirmed the Whistle televet’s suspicion—a skin infection—and sent us away with a bottle of antibiotics. In this case, Whistle’s televet service saved me a lot of money in emergency vet fees. And it’s especially useful in the age of COVID-19, when we are sheltering at home and only venturing out when absolutely necessary.
The FIT’s food portion calculator and To-Do reminders are also very helpful. It’s hard to know how much to feed your pet, but the food portion calculator eliminates any guesswork. Based on Brad’s body composition, weight, and the brand of food he eats, it currently tells me to feed him 2.5 cups per day. The app supports 3,000 types of dog food, so I had no trouble finding the kind he eats.
I also used the app to set a monthly reminder to give Brad his Heartgard and NexGuard medication. The day before I was scheduled to give him his meds, I got a push notification reminder.
Comparisons and Conclusions
It can be hard to tell if your pet is getting enough exercise and the right amount of food, but the Whistle FIT makes it easy. Its offers custom activity goals, and lets you quickly see your pet’s progress throughout the day, while a Food Portion Calculator can help get your overweight pet back on a healthier track. In addition to tracking your pet’s active minutes, calories burned, distance traveled, and hours spent resting, the FIT can automatically identify licking and scratching, and alert you about changes in behavior that may indicate anxiety or skin issues. And it certainly proved helpful in testing, providing me with free access to a remote vet who provided spot-on advice.
The Whistle GO Explore remains our Editors’ Choice for offering all the same features as the FIT, along with the ability to locate your pet on a map, mark safe zones, and receive escape notifications. But if you don’t need location tracking, the Whistle FIT is a fantastic alternative that will save you some money.