The ground of our outdoor play area is covered with a thin layer of pea pebbles – a clean and sanitary alternative given that the grass that was present when we first opened was reduced to dirt after about a year of wear and tear from the dogs. Unfortunately, some dogs, especially puppies who are new to the daycare, will experience some sensitivity on their paw pads after playing on the pebbles. In instances such as this, our protocol is to incrementally increase the amount of time the affected dog spends in our yard. This process will gradually thicken and toughen the skin surrounding the paw pad. From our experience, after a few weeks, the sensitivity is gone. If you notice your dog limping or licking the bottom of their paws the day after daycare, please bring this to our attention so that we can take steps to minimize any future discomfort.
Additionally, if you notice that your dog is vomiting or defecating pebbles (and therefore ingesting them), please bring this to our attention immediately. While it is normal for puppies to explore their environment with their mouths, if you dog is consuming a large amount of pebbles, this is problematic and potentially life-threatening. Because it is physically impossible for us to monitor all thirty to forty dogs simultaneously, and pebble eating is a behavior that is often done surreptitiously, we can not assume liability for dogs engaging in this behavior. In instances such as this you may want to enroll your dog in a daycare that does not have an outdoor area. I would also suggest a visit to your vet to rule out anemia, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or a portosystemic shunt that may be causing the compulsive rock eating.
If you have any additional questions about our pea pebbles, your dog’s paw pads, or the condition known as pica, please do not hesitate to reach out.