One of the first concerns that many dog owners express whenever they have to kennel their dog or take them around other dogs is that there is always the chance that one of the dogs may be sick. Any dog owner planning on using the services of a doggy daycare has to realize that the more contact that dogs have with other dogs the greater the chance that they may become ill or develop a communicable health condition. The flip side of that coin is that if your dog is vaccinated and healthy, he or she has comparatively little risk of becoming seriously ill, even if for some reason they came in contact with a diseased dog. In reality your dog is much more likely to be in contact with an unvaccinated and sick dog in the dog park or while out on a walk with you than they are in a very controlled and monitored setting in a doggy day care.
Responsibly run doggy daycares have the same rules as most kennels. Owners bringing their dogs in for daycare services have to provide current, up to date vaccination records for their dog as well as contact information for the vet. Most doggy day care locations in North America are going to require at the very least a current rabies vaccination record as well as a basic DHPP vaccination. This is a combination vaccination that protects for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza. There is some controversy as to how often these vaccinations need to be provided but most vets and kennels require annual vaccinations, as do most doggy daycare facilities.
In addition to the rabies and DHPP vaccinations there may be other vaccinations required based on outbreaks or health concerns within specific areas. This is often true if there is a sudden dramatic increase in some bacteria, virus or other type of outbreak that is atypical for the area. This could include Leptospirosis or coronavirus, both which are highly contagious. Coronavirus is typically not a major concern with healthy dogs but it can cause serious health risks for dogs that already have a health condition. Leptospirosis is much more serious and can be fatal in some dogs. It can also be transmitted to humans, so it is of major concern for dog owners. Not all areas have problems with Leptospirosis and some dogs may have a reaction to the vaccination. Talking with your vet and finding out how relevant getting this vaccination really is should be a top priority before taking your dog to a kennel, dog park area or to a doggy daycare.
There are many different non-life threatening illnesses in the forms of bacterial and viral infections that dogs can pass to each other through contact. This is absolutely no different than children in schools or even adults all going to the same office building. Germs can be spread by many different ways including through the air, by physical contact or by ingesting bacteria or viruses in food, water or through some other type of contact. Bordetella or kennel cough is one such type of condition and it can be vaccinated for either by an injectable solution or through a nasal spray.
Worms are one type of infection or parasite that can be very easily transmitted from dog to dog. This can occur with contact with an infected dog's fecal material or saliva or by feces somehow getting into water dishes or around feed areas. Of course some worms, including hookworms, can actually enter the skin through the pads of the feet, even months after the infected waste material is gone. This is why it is important to consider a doggy daycare that has a separate area for dogs to use as a toilet area that is separate from the play area. Routine worming of your dog is also important when they are with other dogs or even if they are running loose in dog play areas and off-leash parks.
Skin conditions such as ringworm and some forms of mites are easily passed from dog to dog. Responsible owners that are taking their dogs to a doggy daycare are not likely to have animals that have untreated skin conditions, but they can occur even with the best kept dogs. Be very careful to check your dog's skin for any signs of irritation, lesions, hotspots or dry patches at least once or twice a week and immediately seek treatment from your vet if there is any question as to what the condition may be. Often ringworm is transmitted before there are any signs of the virus, so owners may really be unaware that their dog has developed the condition. Ringworm can be transmitted to humans and other pets in the house but it is easy to treat after it has been diagnosed.
Fleas are perhaps the biggest issue that anyone is going to have to face when their dog is in a doggy daycare. After all it is virtually impossible to prevent fleas from getting onto dogs, especially if they are outdoors and with other dogs. Doggy daycares that are well run and managed will use flea control products both indoors and outdoors and they may require that each dog be treated using a monthly topical flea prevention medication or some other type of flea prevention routine.
Overall the benefits of having your dog at a doggy daycare and socializing with other happy, healthy and fully vaccinated dogs is going to vastly outweigh any possible medical issues you may be worried about. If, however, your dog is ill, fragile or recovering from an illness or surgery you may not want to have them interacting with other dogs as much until they are back to full health. Talking with your vet as well as the doggy daycare staff will allow you to make the decision about what is the right time to have the dog return to the program. Any possible illness or concerns with the health of your dog should be immediately reported to the staff so other owners can be notified.