U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents work hard at tasks including search and rescue, firearms detection, and stopping drug smuggling. They can spend long hours in difficult climate conditions that can put a serious strain on a body’s systems. Unfortunately, some members of more than 1,500 CBP teams can’t tell their colleagues if they are experiencing physical distress. That’s because they are dogs.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently solicited proposals under their “K9 Wearables Solicitation” which seeks to “determine if the lessons learned from human wearable technologies or some aspects of the technologies may be adapted for use within the CBP canine training and operational environments.” This is one program under the Homeland Security Innovation Program that was established to work more closely with technology companies, large and small. The first award for the canine program is a grant of nearly $200,000 to PetPace to assess the value of the company’s smart collar system.

The PetPace collar monitor’s a dog’s vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, heart rate variability, and activity level. The data is sent wirelessly to a controller than then makes the information available on the cloud. If something abnormal is detected, and alert is sent to the user’s smartphone app or to a dashboard on a website. This constant monitoring of detailed information about the health of the dog could help handlers identify problems early, and address the situation before it becomes serious.