Preparing Your Family, Home and Pets For Fostering


Fostering sounds fun!  But is everyone prepared?

Fostering is rewarding but it takes commitment, responsibility and dedication. If you share your apartment or home with anyone, please discuss with them your desire to foster for OPHS. If you have any family member or roommates who are opposed to you fostering or if someone is allergic to animals, we encourage you to look into the other areas of volunteering with OPHS where your desire to help can be better utilized.


Make sure your personal pets are in the best possible health.

Although we recommend keeping your own companion animals separated from your foster babies, some illnesses are airborne so it is important to make sure your own animals’ immune systems are as strong as possible. If your pets have not had a check-up in the last year or are overdue on vaccines, please have them checked before bringing foster animals into your home. If your pet is on any type of medication or has any special needs, please speak to your veterinarian about whether or not fostering is right for your companion animals.

Proof of current vaccinations will be required to be presented to OPHS prior to being accepted into the OPHS Foster Volunteer Program.


For Home and Transport: If you do not have a kennel or that will fit the size foster pet you would like to bring home, OPHS will loan one to you. Ask Bark House/Foster staff if they can supply one to you. 


OPHS Bark House/Foster staff will provide all foods needed for your foster pets. Please follow feeding protocols outlined below and under FEEDING GUIDELINES.


Recommended brands of DRY dog/puppy food for foster pups include:  Science Diet, Purina One, Iams, Pro Plan, Blue Buffalo, Canidae, Merrick, Halo, Natural Balance, Nutro, Whole Earth, Eukanuba, Nature’s Recipe, Diamond, Wellness, Fromm, Authority & Kirkland Signature (Costco). Comparable brands based on quality and ingredients are also appropriate.



Please keep the amount of treats given to your foster pet to a minimum. Treats should only be about 1% of their daily diet. Please do not give people food to your foster pets at all. Make sure treats are labeled safe for dogs or puppies of the age they are. Never leave your pet with treats unattended. No rawhide, leather, or bone – type treats are allowed at any time.


Ceramic or stainless steel dishes that don’t tip over easily will work best for your foster pet. Make sure the water and food bowls are shallow enough that a dog/puppy can reach the food and water but not deep enough that a puppy can get inside and drown. Be sure to have enough bowls for the size of your litter, so puppies don’t fight over food or water. For wet food, you can use separate bowls or cut up paper plates into smaller sizes to put food on. We recommend you do not use plastic dishes since they tend to harbor bacteria and are extremely difficult to disinfect.


Remember, some dogs are active chewers, and need to have things they are allowed to chew on or they will chew things they shouldn’t. Please provide Kong brand or other tough rubber indestructible-type toys for your foster pets when left unattended. The best chew toys are one solid piece of rubber. Appropriate toys are labeled tough or indestructible. Good brands include Kong and Nylabone. Be sure to inspect your toys daily to make sure they cannot get pieces off and eat them. 

PUPPIES: Appropriate toys are labeled safe for puppies and are also labeled indestructible. Good brands include Kong and Nylabone and are labeled for puppies.

Never leave dogs unattended with toys that have cloth, fabric, rope, plastic, leather, nylon, or other type

pieces that can be chewed off and consumed. Never give your dog bones or rawhide-type chews at any



You will need extra bedding on hand before you bring your first foster pet home. We recommend having at least 5 days’ worth of bedding on hand before you start (5 blankets or 10 towels). Of course, this depends on how often you like to wash laundry! Your foster puppy/dogs need their bedding changed anytime they become soiled. There is no need to spend a lot of money on expensive dog beds. Bedding can include items such as old throw blankets, towels, sheets or bath mats. Puppy areas will need to be changed DAILY. OPHS will provide beds and blankets based on need and availability.



Foster puppies will need a place inside to use the restroom. We recommend having a large supply of puppy

pads or newspaper on hand to make for easier cleanup. OPHS will supply you with puppy pads for this

purpose. They may also be purchased at Petco, Walmart and online if you prefer to supply your own.


QUARANTINE AREA - aka “Puppy Room”

We highly recommend that you keep your foster pets separated from your personal pets. Puppies do best kept in a separated room such as a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room with tile or vinyl flooring. Cleaning up after puppies kept on carpeting is extremely difficult. Pens and crates are excellent tools for securing your foster pets overnight.


The following items can be dangerous for your foster pet:






*HOUSE PLANTS such as:  Lilies, poinsettias, Christmas tree pine needles, sago palm.


*SOAP: including both liquid and powdered soap/detergent.


*Household cleaners: including bleach, Lysol, and any other harsh cleansers.


*Antifreeze, oil, any other automotive liquid!


*Human prescriptions and/or other animal’s prescriptions.



*Electrical cords hanging too close to where dogs are housed and they can grab/chew them.


*Plugs hanging halfway out of the outlet.


*Space underneath appliances or on the back side of fridges, stoves, washers, dryers, etc.


*Holes leading into walls.


*Phone chargers and laptop cords.


*CRUSHING INJURIES from:  recliners, rocking chairs, doors, cupboards, wheelchairs, larger animals.


*FALLING INJURIES from: stairs, counters, curtains, bookshelves, windowsills, people’s arms.


*DROWNING: large water bowls, toilets.


*CHOKING from:  rubber bands, ribbons, strings, yarn, plastic bags, chunks of foam, ear plugs.



*PUPPY SIZED HOLES: Puppies can fit into very small spaces! And we have had several stories of puppies gone “missing” that were actually hiding somewhere in the house!


*Under (or inside) the couch, under (or inside) the bed/box spring, under dressers, under the sink, behind washers/dryers/water heaters, pretty much anywhere….


*Open windows, screens that pop out, doors left open.



Ensure pets have no access to any of the above loose items on the floor, or inside doors and cabinets that are low to the ground and possibly opened. For example, if you will be keeping pets in the bathroom or kitchen, make sure that there are no dangerous items (listed above) inside the lower cabinets in case they are able to open cabinet doors and access inside.

Things to check before bringing your foster pet home:

  • Do you have any gaps under your cabinets or appliances that they can get under? If so, you will need to block these gaps before bringing your foster pet home.
  • Do you have any exposed wires, phone cords, etc. that they can chew? If so, you will need to cover or block these from where your foster pet can access them.
  • Do you have indoor plants on the floor where your foster pets can reach them? Most indoor plants can be very toxic to pets. We recommend placing all indoor plants up on tables or shelves and out of reach of foster pets.


Reliable transportation is important for fostering pets with OPHS. You will need to be able to safely transport dogs and puppies back and forth from OPHS’ Bark House campus (1743 Old Olympic Highway, Port Angeles) for medical and adoption purposes. Pets should be secured inside crates or kennels in the main INTERIOR passenger section of the vehicle. You may not transport OPHS pets in the exterior bed of your truck or the trunk of your car. 


Pets can get messy! But many things that are safe to clean adult dogs with are not safe for puppies. 

For Dogs

  • Baby-safe wipes. Any wipe that is labeled as safe to use on human baby skin is also safe to clean your dog.
  • DOG specific shampoo. 
  • BLUE Liquid Dawn dishwashing soap. The regular kind.
  • Dog safe dry shampoo. It is very important after washing your dog to dry their fur thoroughly. Pets can get a chill very easily which can make them sick. Be sure they are dried well and have a warm place to be after receiving a bath. (IMPORTANT - Towel dry dogs only.  Do not use any hairdryers or any type of blower.)

For Puppies

Puppies have special oils in their fur and can get dry and itchy if the wrong shampoo or soap is used to clean them. The following list includes ways that are safe for you to clean your foster puppies.

  • Baby-safe wipes. Any wipe that is labeled as safe to use on human baby skin is also safe to clean your puppies.
  • Puppy safe shampoo. The shampoo must specifically say PUPPY on the bottle. It cannot just say dog shampoo. Adult dog shampoo is different from puppy shampoo and is not good for a puppy’s fur and skin. Be sure to avoid soap getting in their eye, nose, and ears. It is very important after wash your puppy to dry their fur thoroughly. Puppies can get a chill very easily which can make them sick. Be sure they are dried well and have a warm place to be after receiving a bath. IMPORTANT - Towel dry puppies only. Do not use any hairdryers or any type of blower.
  • Once puppies are 6 weeks old, PUPPY SAFE dry shampoos may also be used.

Bathing pets more than once a week is not recommended. You can supplement between baths with the baby-safe wipes.

Please DO NOT bathe your foster pet within the first 24 hours of it arriving at your home. Dogs and puppies will likely receive flea treatment before leaving OPHS and you will wash off that treatment if you bathe them too soon. 





  1. When you come to the shelter to pick up your new foster dog or puppy, you will need to start your visit in the office of the OPHS campus location designated by Bark House/Foster staff. Please remember to allow yourself at least 1 hour for this pickup as there is paperwork you will be completing and possibly a final pet exam by the vet staff before animals can go home with you. We strive to be as fast as possible, but we want you to be prepared. 


  1. A Bark House staff member will set up your paperwork in a Foster Folder. This folder will have all the information you need about your foster dog or puppy and their upcoming booster vaccination and spay/neuter appointments, if needed. This folder should travel with your foster pets at all times. 


When you bring your puppies back for vaccinations, spay/neuter, or for their final drop-off, please bring your foster folder with you. Bark House staff will also check with you to make sure you have all of the food, kennels, etc. (see above section on Preparing your Pets, Family & Home) needed to safely house and care for your new foster puppies.

  1. Bark House staff will then retrieve the puppy and give to you in their foster carrying crate (see example) which will remain with the puppy/puppies at all times.


At OPHS, we begin vaccinating puppies once they are 6 to 8 weeks old.  This means some foster puppies already have their first vaccine when they go to foster, while others will need to come to OPHS when it is time for their first booster. After their first vaccine, puppies receive boosters every two or three weeks until they are adopted or have all vaccines needed. These dates will be scheduled by OPHS Bark House staff.

Bring your fosters in a plastic carrier crate and bring your foster folder for scheduling your next visit. Please do not at any time allow puppies to touch the ground or floor inside or outside on OPHS grounds, as they could be exposed to contact-based illnesses.

When you come to OPHS, let the front office know you are there for your foster puppy’s booster vaccinations. Visits to receive boosters for your puppy/puppies could take up to 30 minutes, so please plan accordingly.

If, for some reason, you cannot make it to your scheduled time, you MUST contact OPHS Bark House or front office to reschedule as soon as possible. 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  It is possible during the booster procedure that our veterinary services team may identify a medical reason to post-pone vaccination or take the puppy out of foster altogether. 


99.9% of the time, dogs and puppies have absolutely no issues after getting vaccinated. Some puppies may seem to be slightly sleepy after a vaccine, but most of the time this is not even noticeable.

Additionally, we do use an intranasal vaccine on puppies that can cause temporary inflammation in the nasal passages and can lead to some sneezing and clear discharge from the nostrils. The inflammation and sneezing should only last a couple days, then they should return to normal.  If the sneezing and/or discharge does not resolve on its own in a few days, please let OPHS/Bark House staff know and they will ask our veterinary services if they would like to examine the puppy/puppies.

In extremely rare cases, puppies and dogs may have an allergic reaction to their vaccinations. Usually, these reactions are seen within the first few minutes of receiving the vaccine and include the following:  Swelling of face and/or feet, vomiting/diarrhea, extremely lethargy/listlessness, pale/white gums, difficulty breathing.  IF YOU SEE ANY OF THESE SIGNS AFTER A VACCINATION, YOU NEED TO CONTACT OPHS IMMEDIATELY!


Puppies are big enough to be spayed or neutered once they reach a weight of four pounds. We will try to predict the timeframe that your fosters will reach two pounds so they can come back to OPHS for their surgery (puppies are usually four pounds when they reach eight weeks of age). However, some puppies may take longer to reach that weight, so surgery will likely be rescheduled if your fosters are taking longer to reach a minimum of four pounds.

Once we have a solid date for spay/neuter surgery, you can drop puppies off at OPHS the evening before or the morning of their surgery date. If you choose to bring them in the morning, a drop-off time is between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

In preparation for their surgery, please take away food first thing in the morning before bringing the puppies to OPHS. The puppies can keep water and a small amount of food overnight before surgery.

Please be sure your puppy is contained inside an enclosed carrying crate and that you do not at any time allow your foster puppy to touch the ground or floor inside or outside on OPHS grounds.

Your foster puppy is ready to go up for adoption after spay/neuter surgery and so will remain at OPHS after surgery until adopted. If you are planning to adopt your foster puppy, please let OPHS staff know when you make your appointment to bring puppy in for spay/neuter surgery.


Usually, puppies will stay at OPHS after surgery so they can go up for adoption. However, if you are asked to take the puppies back for a short period of time, or if you are adopting one of your fosters after they get fixed, this section will apply to you. 

The anesthesia from surgery can make animals super sleepy and maybe a little nauseous for the first night.   You can feed your puppies normally, but be prepared if they don’t want to each as much as usual (you can offer canned food to entice them to eat) or if they vomit in their kennel overnight. 

By the next morning, most puppies are acting like nothing ever happened, so if one of your puppies is still acting lethargic, painful, or not eating more than 24 hours after surgery, please let OPHS know right away!

MALE PUPPIES  The puppy neuter procedure is very simple, minimally invasive, and there are no sutures placed in scrotum. There may be a small amount of dried blood present around their scrotal area the night after surgery, but it should NOT be actively bleeding. Usually, their incisions heal very quickly with no complications, so if there is still blood present around the area of their incision more than 24 hours after surgery, let OPHS know as soon as possible. Male puppies have no confinement restrictions after surgery. 

FEMALE PUPPIES  The puppy spay procedure is also relatively simple, but much more invasive than a neuter. Female puppies will have a small incision on their abdomen as well as a green line (tattoo) to signify that they have been spayed. It is suggested that puppies are kept “quiet” after their spay surgery, but staying confined to a kennel sized environment should be enough to diminish any risk of post-surgical complications. There “might” be an external suture on their abdomen, but this will dissolve/fall out in a couple weeks. The majority of the time, the sutures will be buried and will not be seen on the outside of the body.

If puppies are too active after their spay, their incision can get a little bit swollen and red. Puppies are also prone to “suture reactions” where their body reacts to the foreign material and causes redness and/or inflammation and a small bump to form under the incision. Usually, these reactions are nothing to worry about, and they will slowly go away. But if there is noticeable discharge from the incision (either clear fluid, pus, or blood), please let OPHS Bark House know because the puppy might need antibiotics. 


If you notice that the dog or puppy’s incision is starting to look inflamed or wet, you can apply a small amount of Neosporin over the top of the incision, once a day for 3-5 days.   If the Neosporin does not help the incision to dry up and heal, please let OPHS Bark House know because the puppy may need oral antibiotics. 

Do Not Bathe your pet or allow the incision to get wet for 10 days after surgery.  Do not allow your pet to lick or chew at the incision.  If this becomes a problem, an e-collar can usually be obtained from OPHS during normal business hours.

Monitor the incision daily for redness, swelling, bulging, discharge, or excessive licking.  Mild redness and swelling should be expected for the first few days after surgery.  Any discharge from the incision site is abnormal and if seen, the animal should be brought back in. 




Although we do not anticipate that any animals sent to foster will have any serious medical issues, it is always possible that your foster dog/puppies may become sick while at your home. 

All dogs/puppies will be examined before going to foster, and we will not send currently sick puppies to foster unless the foster home is experienced in how to handle the care and medications.  However, there are many contagious illnesses commonly seen in a shelter environment and many of them have incubation periods of up to 10 days.  So, puppies leaving for foster homes may “appear” healthy at the time, but may also start acting sick a few days after entering their foster home. 

The most common symptoms people will see with sick puppies are:  Sneezing (with or without discharge from the nose), runny eyes or conjunctivitis (sometimes with yellow discharge), squinty eyes, decreased appetite, lethargy, vomiting, loose stools (with or without blood). 

These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and it may be hard for foster homes to decipher what would be considered “benign” and what would be considered an emergency.

IF YOUR PUPPIES ARE SHOWING THESE SYMPTOMS, PLEASE CALL OPHS at 360-457-8206 for Bark House/Foster staff immediately. Additional contact information is located on Page 20 under ADDITIONAL RESOURCES.


If you see any of the symptoms listed below, they are not considered an emergency and do not need immediate attention. However, the veterinarian staff would like to have puppies showing any of the signs below come to the shelter during normal business hours at your earliest convenience. If you have any questions about whether or not these symptoms are emergency symptoms or not, please contact Bark House staff.

See the “Symptoms Chart of Emergency and Non-Emergency Medical Issues” on the next page.






*Extreme Lethargy or inability to stand or walk

*Drastic change in mentation (suddenly becomes strangely aggressive, minimally responsive, or unresponsive to stimuli)

*Vomiting AND diarrhea happening multiple times per day

*Liquid diarrhea with large amounts of blood

*Pale/White gums

*Not eating or drinking for more than 24 hrs

*High temperature (greater than 104 degrees)

*Seizures or seizure-like activity

*Uneven pupil size (especially after a fall from someplace high)

*Large wounds/cuts/bites or other bleeding injuries

*Broken bones or extremely swollen limbs

*Ingestion of something toxic

***Contact OPHS ASAP!


*Be prepared to drive the foster immediately to OPHS or to one of our partner veterinary clinics.

Urgent Care Needed, should be seen in the next 24hrs. 

*Frequent sneezing (with white/yellow discharge or blood coming from nose)

*Conjunctivitis or crusty eyes

*Losing weight

*Chronic soft stools (with or without a small amount of blood)

*Infrequent vomiting (i.e., every 48 hours)

*Development of an abscess or other lump

*Hair falling out + development of round hairless lesions (ringworm!)

*Excessive drinking

*Blood in the urine

*Straining to defecate

*Limping or non-weight bearing on leg for more than 24hrs

***Contact OPHS to make an appointment for your kittens to be seen by veterinary services staff. 


*Be prepared to drive your fosters to OPHS within 24hrs. 

NOT Emergency, can wait for a few days.

*Seeing tape worms or round worms in stool or vomit.

*Minor umbilical hernia

*Ear mites or waxy/dirty ears

*Dry/healing scabs

*Soft stool after food change or intro new food

*Torn/ripped toenails (unless bleeding a lot!)

***Contact OPHS to see what veterinary services would like you to do with your fosters. 

*Be prepared to make an appointment for your fosters to be seen by veterinary services.


If you have spoken to a Bark House/Foster staff member about any of the symptoms mentioned, and staff has determined that you should bring your foster pet into OPHS as soon as possible, we will assist you and your foster pet as much as possible. In cases of emergency, we may have you bring your foster pet to OPHS either before or after normal operating hours.  You must have prior permission from Bark House/Foster staff to bring your foster pet in before/after normal operating hours. Addtioanlly, you will be given an after hours phone number for our vet. Leave a detailed message or text and she will determine if the aniaml needs to come in immediately or if it can wait.




Animals that come into the shelter come from a variety of backgrounds and care situations. One medical issue that they can have are intestinal worms.  These come in a variety of shapes and sizes and include common worms such as tapeworms, roundworms and hookworms.

You may see what looks like small pieces of white rice or cooked white spaghetti pieces in the fecal matter (poop) from your dog or puppy. These are parasites (worms). If needed, your foster pet will receive de-wormer before going home with you. So, what you are seeing may be the medicine actually working, as the worms die and are leaving the their body.

However, if you continue to see worms or worm pieces for 4 days or more in a row, the first round of meds may not have worked. We will need you to return foster pet to the OPHS Vet clinic to get a new dose of de-wormer.

Can I catch intestinal worms? YES, but you need to ingest their eggs or phlegm.

PUPPIES:  We always recommend washing your hands before AND after interacting with your foster puppy in any way.

ALL DOGS:  As long as you practice clean hygiene practices by thoroughly washing your hands any time after you clean up your foster pet’s fecal matter (poop), you significantly reduce the risk of catching the parasite.  It is recommended that you wear disposable gloves when cleaning fecal matter.


Chemical flea treatment is dangerous for puppies under 8 weeks old. Wash puppies gently per procedures listed on Pages 6-7 of this handbook if fleas are present.


Contrary to its name, ringworm is not a worm at all but a fungus. There are three types of ringworm, one type is the same fungus typically referred to as “athlete’s foot”. When this fungus grows anywhere other than the bottom of the foot, it is called ringworm. The fungi live on the surface of the skin and in the hair follicles.

The usual symptom is a round hairless lesion. However, the characteristic "ring" that we see on humans doesn't always appear as a ring on animals. This lesion will grow in size and often become irregular in shape.

Ringworm is commonly found on the face, ears, tail and paws. The lesions are scaly and the skin may be reddened. The spots may or may not be itchy.

Transmission can happen by direct contact with another infected animal or person. It can be passed from cats to dogs and vice versa as well as from pets to humans and from humans to pets. The fungal spores can live in the environment for a long time and can be found in soil, carpets, bedding, grooming equipment, etc. The spores can infect an animal or person when they come into contact with them. The incubation period is 10-12 days. This means that following exposure to the fungus, about 10-12 days will pass before any lesions occur.

Can humans catch ringworm from animals? YES.

Humans can contract ringworm by handling an animal with the condition, or sharing a living area with them.

Are all cats, dogs, and people susceptible to ringworm?

Healthy adult animals and people usually have a resistance to ringworm. Young animals and people are more susceptible because their immune system haven't fully developed. Many animals are carriers of ringworm but show no symptoms. They can, however, infect other animals or humans.

Is there a cure for ringworm?

If no treatment is carried out, ringworm will run its course in two to four months and the symptoms will resolve themselves. However, treatment is recommended to save the pet from suffering any longer than necessary and to cut down the period of time they are contagious.

Ringworm Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis:  If you see ANY hair loss on your dog/puppy, please inform Bark House/Foster staff immediately. They will instruct you to bring your foster pet in for an examination. If your pet is found to have ringworm, you will have the option to continue treatment in your home or leave your foster pets at the shelter.

Oral Antifungal Medication:  The vet may prescribe an antifungal drug that inhibits fungal reproduction.

Decontaminate the environment:  Use bleach mixed at 1:10 (1 part bleach to 10 parts water) on any surface you can, at least every other day. This solution should kill 80% of the spores. Vacuum on a daily basis and dispose of vacuum bags/empty vacuum canister, which will contain the spores. Steam cleaning of carpets and furnishings will also kill a large number of the spores. This is best done after pets have left the home. Don't forget the animal’s bedding! Wash all bedding in very hot water with detergent that contains color safe bleach and dry on high for 60 minutes.

Quarantine:  Confine fosters to one room of the house or in a crate to avoid spreading spores all over the house.