With the holidays fast approaching, many folks are making plans to travel. If taking your pet with you isn’t an option, you may be considering taking him or her to a kennel while you’re away. Boarding kennels are often thought of as being an unpleasant and stressful experience for your pet, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are our top tips for a stress-free boarding kennel experience for both you, and your pet.
1. Inspect the Facility in Person
Don’t rely on a phone call to choose the right boarding facility. Check out the kennel’s dog and cat boarding areas in person. Here’s what you’re looking for:
- For dogs, there should be plenty of space for them to get exercise. Enrichment is important, too, so there should be toys around for them to play with. If group play is allowed, it should be well supervised by experienced technicians.
- For cats, make sure they have a cozy place to sleep and hide in. Toys and playtime should also be available if the cat is outgoing enough to take advantage of them.
- Find out if you can bring toys and bedding from home. Your pet will feel more comfortable with familiar things around him.
- Observe the staff as they do their jobs. Do they seem happy and relaxed, or are they overworked and stressed? Ask how many staff members are on hand to tend to the animals at a given time.
- Make sure you can bring your pet’s food from home. Boarding is stressful enough without throwing a sudden diet change into the mix.
- If your pet needs medication, make sure they are willing to administer it according to your veterinarian’s directions. Ask them about their system for keeping track of how and when medications are administered and who is responsible for it.
- Find out how they handle sick or injured animals. They should always be taken to the closest vet when there’s an emergency, but you should have the option of having them taken to your personal vet if it doesn’t present a risk to your pet.
- Be sure to check the internet for feedback from previous clients. Look at their website and social media pages, and do a Google search for reviews. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations from your vet, friends, and family.
- Ask about their hours and available pick-up and drop-off times. Some facilities don’t have pick-up hours on Sundays, so it’s best to check in advance so you can plan accordingly.
2. Drop Your Pet Off a Couple of Hours Before Closing
If at all possible, drop your pet off at least a couple of hours before the facility closes. That way your pet will have time to get settled in before the staff leaves for the night.
3. Have Your Vaccination Records with You When Dropping Off
Call ahead to find out what vaccinations are required. Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and have a copy of the records with you when you drop off.
4. Reserve Early
As soon as you finalize your travel dates, go ahead and make your boarding reservation. Kennels fill up fast around the holidays.
5. Prepare Your Pet
If your pet has never been boarded before, try taking him for at least one night before your trip. That way, he’ll be somewhat familiar with the facility before you actually go away.
Most importantly, enjoy your vacation! For many pets, boarding is an adventure and you’ve done everything you can to make this a positive experience for him. Rest assured that your pet will be well cared for and let the professionals do their job.