As a dog owner, you may have a routine that enables you to be with your pooch every day and night. You may have a lucky dog that’s become a constant traveling companion even when you vacation for weeks at a time. While you may want to believe you and your best friend are inseparable, life will probably throw a wrench into your plans sometime in your years together. Having to board a pet is a reality that faces most dog owners at one time or another. When the situation arises for you to do this, it will be helpful for you to have already investigated the best options available. As you search for a trustworthy facility, keep in mind the following information to help you determine where you will reserve a kennel for your dog when the time comes.
Cleanliness and Safety
Reputable boarders will require their canine visitors to be up to date on their vaccinations. This is to protect your own dog as well as others staying there. If you visit a veterinarian regularly, it’s likely you have records showing that your dog has received rabies and DHLPP vaccines. A vaccine for Bordetella, however, is one that is usually only given to dogs when their owners know that boarding the pet will happen in the future. Bordetella, also called infectious tracheobronchitis or kennel cough, is a disease that’s often accompanied by other infectious agents. In a boarding facility, it can easily be transmitted among dogs. The dominant symptom is a harsh cough as if the dog has something lodged in its throat. The vaccine can be injectable or intranasal. Check with the boarder to find out when will be the best time for your pet to have the vaccine prior to its stay. In addition to submitting records of vaccinations to the boarder, you may need to also prove that your dog has been spayed or neutered.
Before making a reservation, take a tour of the facility. Note the check-in area, individual kennels, and common play/exercise areas both indoors and outdoors. Everything should be clean and organized. If you see enclosures that are broken or parts of the facility that are not secure, keep looking for a better place to send your pet. As for odors, of course the facility won’t smell like your own home, but it shouldn’t reek of feces and urine. Ask about disinfectants used. They should be hospital-grade or similar products. The staff should be able to tell you about how the facility’s ventilation, heating, and cooling systems work. Kennels can cause anxiety in pets, but their stress shouldn’t be increased because of poor climate control. See where your pet is going to spend the majority of its time. Individual kennels should be spacious enough to accommodate the size of your dog. They should be independent from others, too. If you will board multiple dogs, inquire about them being kept together.
Friendly, Experienced Staff
People who treat you with kindness and respect are likely to do the same with your pet. Ideally, the staff should be pet owners themselves and have a genuine love for animals. Find out who is trained in giving CPR and first aid to dog guests and how dogs are observed and made to feel at ease during their stay. Those caring for your dog should be able to explain feeding and exercise procedures, as well as what they do in both inclement weather and medical emergencies. Trustworthy facilities will have good relationships with local veterinarians. Ask for references from these vets and those who have used the facility in the past. Inquire about when members of the staff are actually at the facility. It’s unlikely that someone is present 24/7, but regular shifts should be routine. (Keep in mind that this will make a difference in when you can drop off and pick up your pet.) All of your questions should be answered. If the people you’re speaking with are unable to do this, keep looking for a facility with a staff who can.
You don’t want your dog cooped up in a kennel all day and night. Find out how often your dog will be taken outside to relieve itself. Boarders differ a great deal on exercise options for your pet. Some places will allow dogs a group playtime if they are well socialized obedient animals. Long, frequent walks may also be offered if you have a dog with a lot of energy to burn. Some facilities even have pools for breeds that like swimming! Special services may come with an extra fee, but if your dog is there for an extended stay, it might make all the difference.
What to Pack
Keep rawhide bones at home, but toys are often allowed. You also may not need your pet’s food and water bowls. Boarders frequently supply these dishes because they have procedures for cleaning them properly. You may or may not need to bring your dog’s regular food, but if you do, keep it in a sealable container. The same goes for supplements. Blankets from home are usually acceptable; they’re great for giving physical and mental comfort. Make sure all the items you bring are washable and are labeled with your name and your pet’s. Most importantly, remember to give the staff special instructions about medication and diet in writing and provide emergency contact information for yourself and your vet.
Make a Budget
Ask for a list of standard fees and added services. Expect a daily rate for boarding your pet but ask about discounts if you must board multiple pets. Other discounts may apply for an extended stay, and discounts are sometimes available for seniors or military members. Find out what the charge may be if your dog will need more walks than what is included in the daily rate. The boarding facility may also offer grooming options. As you conduct your search for the best place to take your dog, you’ll find that prices will differ. You may be willing to pay more to a facility that stands out among the competition in your area.