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Concerned About Boarding Your Pet? 7 Tips to Make It Go Smoothly

Richard Clayton Dec 11, 2019
Finding a dog kennel can be a lot of pressure. It can be a stressful experience boarding a pet, especially one that has special needs or doesn't do especially well away from you. Choosing a quality facility is critical to ensuring your pet will be well cared. These seven tips will help both you and your pet have a better boarding experience.

Provide Your Pet's Regular Food

Many dogs and cats do not like to eat while their owners are away. Providing their regular food is just one way you can disrupt their routine as little as possible. Allowing your dog or cat to be fed whatever the boarding facility uses can exacerbate a lack of appetite or cause the opposite issue - unwanted weight gain.
Changing foods suddenly without a proper transition period can cause digestive upset. Many boarding facilities ask that you provide your own food anyway, so be prepared to bring as much as your pet will need while you are away.

Elaborate on Treats

While in an unfamiliar place and surrounded by unfamiliar people, your pet may have a difficult time understanding what is going on and what is expected of him or her. Treats can help with that as well as keep your pet happy.
This is especially true for dogs. However, treats can pose problems for pets prone to weight gain or who have food allergies. It is always best to discuss treats with boarding staff in advance to let them know any limitations and preferences.

Learn About the Boarding Facility

You should make an effort to understand how things are run at the boarding facility. How often are pets let out to exercise? What kind of activities are provided, if any? Does the facility have a security system to detect fire or break-ins when no one is around?
These are all important details to know in advance. Not all boarding facilities have staff on site 24-7, so be sure to find one that does if you are not comfortable leaving your pet unmonitored overnight.

Give Emergency Contacts

Be sure to provide the boarding facility information on who should be contacted during an emergency to make decisions on care if you cannot be reached. This can be a trusted friend or family member.
Also provide your veterinarian's contact information and information on where you will be staying while you are away. It is a good idea to agree on an amount you are comfortable spending so treatment can proceed without wasting time in the event of an emergency.

Book Early

Many boarding facilities fill up quickly, especially around major holidays. To be sure your pet gets a spot at the boarding facility of your choice, be sure to make arrangements early.
This is true whether you are boarding at a private boarding facility or at your vet's office. It is also important to make arrangements early if you will be gone for a significant length of time.

Be Clear About Your Pet's Medical Needs

Be sure to bring a sufficient, well-labeled supply of all your pet's medications and describe how and when they should be administered. Providing your pet's medical records is also advisable and may even be required.
If your pet has known chronic or serious health issues, you may be better off boarding him or her at your vet. This can also be a good idea for pets that need regular shots or medication they are not fond of taking.

Discuss Options for Lowering Stress Levels

Your pet is almost guaranteed to be stressed during boarding, which can be a problem. Stress weakens the immune system, making it a significant factor in the development of illnesses. To make matters worse, the fact that your pet will be around other pets in the boarding facility makes the transmission of infectious diseases all the more likely.
See if you can get a tour of the facility and talk to the staff. Find out whether there are solid walls between kennels or just wire, whether conditions seem comfortable (i.e. comfortable bedding or not too noisy) and whether pets are allowed to mingle or are kept isolated.