Day care facilities are a relatively new innovation in the pet care industry. Since most modern families consist of two working parents with very little time to spend exercising and socializing the family pets, animal day care providers offer a service similar to that of child day cares. They allow your dog to learn and play with others while you’re off during the day at your job, saving you the worries of leaving her at home alone all day without companionship, and with the opportunity to get into mischief.
As with pet care facilities, you’re going to want to perform some basic tasks and ask probing questions before you decide to leave Fifi in the hands of someone you don’t know.
Determine if you want a day care closest to your house, or closest to your work, then make a visit during the week on your lunch hour to check out the facilities. Ask for a tour and look for cleanliness, a friendly and obliging staff, and separate play and resting areas for dogs and cats.
Look to see if the personnel are actively involved with their charges, or if they just sit back and watch what happens. Question whether anyone knows animal first aid, and what he or she would do in case of an emergency. Investigate whether any pets can escape from the play areas, and, most importantly, what steps are in place if a dog should get loose.
Ask for references, and make those calls.
Because there are some basic differences between day cares and other pet care facilities, don’t hesitate to ask some important questions.
Questions To Ask
Can I bring my pup in for a pre-enrollment visit to see if she enjoys being in day care?
Most day cares will allow you to bring your dog in on a trial basis to see how they react to being in a strange environment away from you. You will want to watch for any kind of fear responses, stress or separation anxiety. See how your pet responds to the day care staff and to the other animals in the facility. If your dog becomes overly frightened or aggressive, day care may not be the right option for you.
What is the caregiver to dog ratio?
How many pets is each staff member responsible for? Serious overcrowding with inadequate numbers of personnel can lead to safety and health issues for your pooch.
What supplies do I need to bring with me for my dog’s daily visit?
If your dog is going to be at the day care for your entire working day, you will probably need to pack a bag with her food. Even if the day care provides meals for your animal, switching quickly to a different food without easing in to a new one can lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis – an inflammation of the pancreas that can prove both costly and deadly.
Is someone available to give medications?
Unless you plan on giving your pup her daily medications either early in the morning before you drop her off, or late afternoon when you pick her up, someone at the day care will need to treat her. Ask if the staff is familiar with giving doggy meds and specify what time you need them given. Make sure you leave the original bottle with the original prescription still attached, so that staff will know exactly what dose is prescribed for your dog.
What is the earliest time I can drop off my dog?
Most day care facilities understand that different people have different working hours, and they strive to accommodate that. They also know that there will be days when you’ll need to go into work earlier than usual.
Find out what the hours are and ask if you will need to call ahead should you have to bring your dog in early one day.
What is the latest time I can pick her up?
Day care providers also understand the demands of working pet parents, and that there are going to be times when you have to stay at work later than normal. Ask about their latest hours during the week, and if you will get charged extra for a late pickup.
If I’m running late from work, will someone stay at the daycare until I can get there?
You’ll want to know if someone will be there to let you pick up your dog in case of a work or family emergency. If you know you’re going to be several hours past your regular pickup time, will the staff make sure your pooch has food and water, and will they stay at the facility, or place your dog in a kennel and then come back to let you in to get her?
Is there a transport van that picks up and delivers pets at my house?
For an extra charge, many pet day cares are now providing a pick up and delivery service to your home when you just need that extra hour or two during the day for work. You’ll want to know if your dog is covered under the facilities insurance while she’s in transit, and if the driver has been screened for speeding tickets and DUIs.
Is there a discounted fee for multiple pets or a weekly/monthly contract?
Many day facilities will give discounts for more than one pet from a particular family, pro-rating fees on the number of animals involved. You also need to ask the difference between paying by the day, the week, and the month – and what happens to the remainder of your fee if you decide to cancel a contract mid-month.