A Pet Boarding Primer

Make your next trip one your pet won’t regret.

October 2016

Whether work or vacation takes us away, sometimes we need to leave our furry friends behind. Neighbors or pet sitters can check in on your pup or cat, but in many cases, your pets may be more comfortable—and safer—if they are in the full-time care of a pet boarding facility. Whether it’s doggy daycare or the kitty kennel, boarding your pet can be a positive experience for all parties—or puppies—involved.   

Kennel considerations

Don’t know where to begin? Ask trusted friends for kennel recommendations, or call your veterinarian or area shelter for advice. Next, call to see if a particular cat or dog kennel will accept your pet, as some establishments may not house certain animals, breeds or ages. Arrange appointments to visit in person (without your pet). Are you getting a good vibe? Trust your instincts. For instance, if a place feels unclean and chaotic—it probably is! Pets may be messy, but professional kennels should look and smell clean. Don’t be alarmed, however, if the kennel staff won’t let you into certain areas, as it’s likely a courtesy to current guests; cats and dogs who are boarding may be nervous or scared if a stranger suddenly appears.

Security, staffing and safety

During your visit, be sure to assess the three S’s: security, staffing and safety. Kennels should be highly secure, with no opportunities for pets to escape. Whether your pet is a digger, climber, creeper or crawler, the enclosures should be foolproof when it comes to escape attempts. Staff should be trained in animal care and able to recognize the signs of illness or distress. And pets should be safe, both physically and emotionally. This means private enclosures with enough room to stand, turn, stretch and move about. Enclosures should be clean, ventilated and temperature-controlled. Dogs and cats should be housed in separate areas, and dogs should be given frequent visits to larger yards for exercise.

Prepping your pet

Once you’ve selected the right kennel for your fur baby, be sure to make a reservation as soon as you know your travel plans. (Boarding kennels often book up during holidays.) You’ll likely need to provide veterinary and vaccination records in advance, and you may need to pack food and even favorite toys from home. Dogs especially will be happier if the kennel feels familiar, so if you’re planning a long stay for your pet’s first visit, consider scheduling one overnight visit in advance to help your pup adjust.