At Prairie Dog Daycare we have a number of policies in place to help ensure your dog’s safety but did you know we’re Pet First Aid Qualified? This includes myself and any helpers I might leave your dog(s) with should I need to step out for an hour or two.
Pet First Aid is essential for anyone working with multiple dogs in an off leash setting where knowing how to assess injuries and when to seek veterinary care can mean the difference between life and death for your pet. In my opinion, ‘hoping’ nothing happens and telling my clients that “dogs never get hurt here” is just plain wrong! The potential injuries in a dog daycare range from torn nails to bites and everything in between and I feel that I owe it to my clients (both ethically and legally) to be prepared for every possibility.
A couple of months ago, we had a dog re-injure a dewclaw that was healing from a previous injury. This was not a life threatening injury and it did not appear to be painful however bleeding is always cause for concern. Using my Pet First Aid skills, I was able to clean and wrap her injury to stop the bleeding and settle her in a crate to keep her comfortable until her owner was ready to come and get her. Cleaning, and bandaging took all of 5 minutes because we had a first aid kit on hand and because because she is used to being handled all over at home and because of the trusting relationship I am able to develop with each dog that comes to Prairie Dog Daycare due to our limited attendance numbers. She was able to rest quietly in her crate because we have a routine here which involves cookies, crates and down time. Being able to settle in a crate means we could prevent her from injuring herself further and losing any more blood.
None of this would be easy (or even possible) with one person, 30-40 dogs, no first aid kit and no way to separate dogs or provide them with down time.
In my opinion, any professional worth the money they are charging you for services should have a plan in place for medical emergencies and you as a customer (or potential customer) have the right to ensure your pet will receive the best of care. One way to ensure this is to visit the facility you have in mind. As a client you have the right to inquire about your dog’s safety and well being. Any facility that cannot make time to answer your questions does not deserve your money. That being said in a busy facility, unexpected visitors can be an inconvenience (this is why some facilities have set drop off/pick up times), call ahead to make an appointment. While you are visiting and chatting you should:
Ask about the experience of the facility staff. Is the staff trained? How does the facility ensure staff members have a minimum understanding of dog behavior? Are the staff mature (adult) dog owners or high school students who love dogs?
Ask about the policies and practices in place to prevent dog fights. I am of the opinion that the best way to break up a dogfight is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Such policies may include:
- Separating dogs by size, age, playstyle (or all three!) size difference is often a cause of injury to smaller dogs in large playgroups. This does not mean every facility will separate small dogs from large ones but at the very least, larger young rambunctious dogs should be separated from smaller older or more quiet dogs.
- High human:dog ratios. One person cannot supervise an unlimited number of dogs. According to Dog Daycare industry leader, Robin Bennett, the ideal ratio is 1:15 to 1:20. Anything higher and your dog’s safety is at risk.
- Assessment and questionnaires for each dog entering dog daycare. this allows facilities to weed out dogs that arte not suited for off leash dog play.
Ask about the procedures if/when your dog needs veterinary care. These procedures are generally included in waivers/agreements you sign before leaving your dog. Does the daycare take the dog to the vet? Are you responsible for transportation to the vet. Neither option is wrong however if you are leaving your dog at daycare so you can go out of town on business and your dog needs care, you may want to choose a daycare that assumes responsibility for taking your dog to the vet.
Ensure the facility has your dog’s health information. This includes the name, location and phone number of your dog’s veterinarian as well as the names and doses of any medications they are on. This information is critical, especially in situations where anesthetic and surgery may be required.
Ensure that your canine care professionals have canine first aid certification or equivalent experience. By equivalent experience I would mean someone with experience working in a veterinary clinic including Veterinary Assistants, Veterinary Technicians and Registered Animal Health Technologists.
If the facility cannot answer the questions to your liking or if they claim dogs never get hurt in their facility, it means they do not have a plan and you should look for a facility that does.