Top 5 injuries in Doggie Daycare Facilities and How to Prevent Them

Jan 12, 2020 | Business Insurance

Fur parents should be aware of how to prevent injuries when leaving their beloved pets at doggie daycare facilities.

Love and Care

For people who own pets, they are no longer just simple animals. They brought these pets inside their homes and in turn, have become a unique member of their families.

So it is not uncommon for some of them to behave like children to their “humans”, that is furry children (for dogs and cats) to their “fur parents”.

The reality of course is, much as they would like to stay home and spend time with their fur babies, the “humans” would still need to go out to earn their keep or do errands.

Like caring for human children, these pets would need caregivers to sit in for them while their “parents” are not around.

Taking Notice

A doggie daycare facility is every pet owner’s best option to keep their pets safe while they are away.  Then again, injuries and accidents happen anytime.

As they say, animals are still animals. No matter how well-trained or disciplined they may be, mishaps can still happen even in the most controlled environment, such as a doggie daycare facility.

They still have that instinct and characteristic that we cannot take away no matter how domesticated they are. 

That said, here are the top 5 Injuries that occur in many doggy daycares:

Scratch

Scraping or rubbing lightly is a compulsive action normally done to relieve irritation or an itch.  It is a common behavior observed with dogs in the same manner as licking and chewing.

Nonetheless, it becomes harmful if the scratching develops into a “hot spot”.  A hot spot occurs when the same area continues to be scratched until it reddens and blisters.  It is also called as “acute moist dermatitis” and can be found mostly on the chest, head, or hips. 

Dogs scratch not just because they are bored or having anxiety.  For pet owners, it should already be a red flag for allergies, other medical conditions, or parasite infestation.

Fur parents may be hands-on with the grooming and feeding of their fur babies at home. After all, as soon as they leave them to doggy daycare, the condition is already beyond their control.

Fleas, ticks, and mites are often invisible to human eyes because they are microscopic and hardly noticeable until there is an infestation already.  Dogs can contract this by just being near or within the same area to another infected dog.

Bites

Dogs must learn to socialize. Otherwise, they may grow to be hostile and fearful of other dogs.  Biting is just natural and it often occurs during play.

However, it becomes harmful if it already inflicts pain or injury.  Some call it “biting etiquette” and it does not end with the pet’s relationship with other dogs but also extends to his humans.  

Eye Injury

Squinting, excessively blinking, and avoiding bright lights are some common telltale signs of an eye injury. Another frequent sign is also when a pet’s tear ducts overproduce, much like how it is with a human.   Dogs and cats are not so different when they experience eye irritation, they would also scratch their eyes to relieve the pain. 

These injuries occur when the eye when small objects or other irritants enter the eye.  On top of this, abnormal growth of eyelashes and inverting eyelids can also cause injuries. This may happen when animals fight, or they experience an infection or get exposed to certain substances or chemicals.  Plus of course predisposition of certain breeds to eye injuries, like the pugs for example.

Nipped-ear

Dogs are supposed to be sociable animals, and they learn it earlier in their lives. They play by hovering to each other and by biting lightly.  They would often focus on ears because these parts are an easy and accessible target. By being able to nip at the other dog’s ear, they can also show who is more dominant between them.  Even if it is supposed to be for fun, ear injuries can still happen. A small cut in the ear can result in a lot of blood which may be aggravated due to the dog’s constant head shaking or movement.  

Aggression on the other hand can result in serious injuries characterized by chewed ears.  Much like the “bites”, it is often a result of poor socialization skills in a dog.  It could be triggered by excitement, fear, pain, and survival needs. 

Broken Bone

It is important to remember that all dog breeds are prone to fracture, especially at play.   Nevertheless, most of these broken bones do not just happen.  Instead, they are most likely to get injured due to a sudden impact or great force like falls or getting hit by hard objects. Most of these may occur in the animal’s jaw, pelvis, skull, spine, and thigh. 

The injury could be an open fracture where the bone gets exposed making it vulnerable to infection, or a closed fracture that has no visible wounds. Aside from the unbearable pain the dog will have to go through, it could also result in deformity and other infections if not treated immediately. 

On top of these Top 5 Most Common Injuries, here below are some more issues pet owners should consider before finding a doggy daycare facility:

Other Injuries

We have read about nipped-ears, scratches, eye injuries, and broken bones but due to the agility of pets, mouth injuries and even broken toes and tails may not be given attention as much.

Mouth or oral injuries

It happens when they chew or eat hard objects that can injure their gums, teeth, and gums.  These objects like bones, sticks, or twigs can wedge in between the lower jaw and canine teeth or even between molars.  Playtime can also cause injury.  Aside from ear-nipping, dogs may bite each other’s faces and lacerate the nose and mouth as well. 

Torn Toenails

This may be an issue of pet grooming, particularly if the toenails are left unchecked. If the pet got his toenail stuck in between the railings of a metal cage or just breaks in the middle, the injury can result in a lot of pain and bleeding. 

Tail Injuries

Dogs normally wag their tails when they are happy, that is why this is also called a “happy tail”. It occurs when the tail suffered a trauma like being bitten during a fight with another dog, getting stepped on, or getting caught and slammed at, like a door for example. It is a recurring injury, meaning dogs are likely to get it again after healing – although it is very difficult to treat and takes some time, like months to heal. 

Aside from these injuries, certain infections or communicable diseases are likely to be caught in doggy daycares as well. Many doggie daycare facilities may implement keeping pets with these conditions from their centers, it is just important that pet owners get an overview of these conditions. These include:

Canine Influenza Virus (CIV)

Canine Influenza Virus or CIV is also commonly referred to as “Dog Flu”.  This virus is normally spread by close contact with an infected dog oftentimes in restricted places like an animal shelter, kennels, groomers, or doggie daycare facilities.  

To date, the H3N2 and H3N8 strains are two of the influenza viruses which may be contracted with close contacts with other infected animals. It is also quite tricky since it often bears resemblance to other bacterial or viral infections.

This includes the canine infectious tracheobronchitis or commonly known as “kennel cough”, the Bordetella bronchiseptica, and parainfluenza virus.

These conditions are characterized by coughing, runny nose, fever, lethargy or inactivity, eye discharges, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.  Yet, sometimes there will be no signs at all but would eventually result in pneumonia and could be fatal.

Technically, every dog may get infected regardless of its breed or age, particularly in these conditions. Since it is highly contagious, that is why strict care must be given to pets before putting them in such facilities.  

Giardia, Coccidia and Other Parasitic Worm Infections

Dogs that suffer from diarrhea or vomiting unexpectedly may have Giardia and Coccidia. These are intestinal parasites that dogs may get from direct contact with other dog’s rear ends or poops. The spread of these parasites at doggie daycare facilities is not impossible, to say the least.  

Giardia is characterized by severe dehydration all while having diarrhea and vomiting which may further weaken the dog’s ability to fight the parasite. Coccidia on the other hand also has similar, but less severe symptoms. Most dogs recover quickly with immediate medical care.

Dogs are likely to drink from the same water sources in such facilities and play with their rear ends. That is why transmission of other intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, among other similar infections are not impossible.  Unless utmost care and proper adherence to hygiene are observed in place in such facilities. 

Prevention

Now that we know about these instances, how do we prevent them from happening? Here are a few tips:

Safe Facilities 

There should be adequate room indoor and outdoor for the dogs to play. Not all breeds can get along well. Some dogs are under-socialized and being around with other dogs makes them uncomfortable. So if they put that dog together with aggressive dogs,  that will be chaotic. Being said, having enough room is essential for the safety of the dogs. 

Having a high fence and secured gates to ensure that the dogs cannot run outside is also a must. 

There is an incident wherein a staff forgot to close the gate. The dog then ran outside the street and a passing car hit the dog. Things that can be prevented if there are enough precautions

Separate cages for big and small dogs

This is one of the main causes of a brawl inside a Doggie Daycare. There is a case in Massachusetts way back in 2009, a Shih-Tsu was mauled to death by a group of larger dogs at daycare. In another case in Hawaii year 2014, a Chihuahua was ripped to pieces by a Labrador.  An investigation was made and it turned out that the Labrador has some little stuffed toys inside the cage and it seems that the larger dog thought that the Chihuahua was one of the toys.

Some daycares are maximizing their rooms or simply just trying to get more clients by trying to fit in too many dogs inside that they forgot the possibility of the inevitable brawl.

Tour of Inspection

Probably one of the best ways to ensure this is by getting a “tour” of the facilities before handing over their pets.  Many centers restrict actual tours because the animals may be agitated by human presence, particularly their owners.

On the other hand, a reputable dog care facility will find ways to meet this need for their clients. They are likely to consider that these pet owners are not just “owners” but are “fur parents” to these “fur babies” and are likely scouting for facilities where they can leave them, much as a human parent would do for their children. 

It does not need to be an in-person tour during daycare hours.  As it could also be arranged when the daycare hours are over, virtual tours may also be done through live webcams to showcase actual dog care time inside the facilities, or even videos and photo references.  

Facility Style

One way to help dog owners to choose the best dog daycare facility is matching these centers with their pet’s temperament, mental, and physical needs.  

Dog park

This type of facility is perfect for dogs who love to run or are characterized as “energetic”.  It has large open spaces for running, or playing fetch and is usually outdoors although it could also be indoors in some cases. Often this facility has staff spread over the play area to watch and interact with the dogs  

Separated play area

For Pet owners with dogs who are more “cautious” and are not into high energy activities, the separated play area facility could be a good option. The facility has smaller indoor-only or outdoor-only play areas where dogs are separated according to energy level, size, and play-style. Due to the space limitation and number of staff, each group may just have around 10-20 dogs per area. 

Home-style

A home-style facility is a typical home that is designed to provide a familiar “homey” environment for dogs that may be overwhelmed in a big dog daycare set-up.  These are typically dogs who show signs of separation anxiety and those who enjoy the company of limited dogs at a time.  Space limitations and local licensing requirements for residential homes constraints these facilities from accommodating too many dogs at a time. Given these issues, pet owners should check if the facility is dog-proofed, properly cleaned, and sanitized before entrusting their dogs here.

Well Trained and Adequate Number of Staff

There are lots of incidents that happened due to inadequate knowledge of the staff. Being knowledgeable is vital in taking care of different kinds/breeds of dogs more than we think. 

Most Daycare doesn’t require the staff to have proper training nor experience before they hire them, which leads to many problems. For instance, two dogs are being playful, an untrained staff may think that everything is going well until the two dogs suddenly fight. Someone who has undergone proper training can understand dog behavior. How to determine whether they are happy, anxious, or angry.  

Lack of staff is also a big deal. The ratio does not have to be a 1:1 thing, but at least the facility should have a well-trained staff member for every fifteen dogs (1:15) at the least.  However, if the ratio could be smaller, like 1:7 or 1:10, the better! Especially in high-energy playgroups.  This is to have adequate control in play between the more unruly or energetic dogs.

When an incident happened inside a daycare, the first question is: “How did it happen?” The very reason why the owners put their pets in daycare is to have someone to look after their pets.  Unfortunately, most investigations about these cases of accidents inside a daycare found out that there is no staff attending the pets while the incident happens or It always took them a while before someone made an action to stop the commotion.

Clean Surroundings 

Scratches, wounds, and injuries are not just caused by conflicts with other animals.  Some are also from untidy surroundings. Like a little piece of worn metal on the gates that can scratch the pet’s skin. That happens most of the time in a crowded daycare.  Where they cannot control and monitor every pet. And ended having a call from the owner after they fetch their dog that they noticed some scratch. In most cases, the daycare owner will watch the CCTV footage and they always state that there was no commotion happening at all. 

Although owners do not expect the floors to be squeaky clean all the time, the facilities should be regularly cleaned using animal-safe products at the least.  Pet owners should be able to ask how the facilities are sanitized.  A good indicator of this is how the daycare facilities look and smell without the overbearing smell of chemicals. Rather, deep clean is probably synonymous or even near to a veterinary-care facility level. This is to ensure that harmful viruses (parvo, distemper, and influenza), bacteria like kennel cough, and protozoa (giardia) will not thrive in the facility. 

Well Organized 

Being organized is one of the best things that daycare can do to prevent incidents.  Some

Daycare has regulations that help them in controlling incidents in their facility.  Before they receive a pet, they will first check any scratch, wounds, or suspicious thing that they can see. 

Conclusion

They will take pictures of those then send it to the owner’s email for documentation and transparency.  And before the owner fetches their pet, they will do the same inspection just to make sure that there are no additional wounds or scratches.

As they say, it takes two to tango.  As much as these doggie daycare facilities are liable to take care of pets the owners entrust to them, the pet owners should also make sure that they are doing business with these facilities in good faith.
For any inquiries or clarifications about getting your pet business or even just getting your own fur baby insurance, please do contact us. We’d love to hear from you!