Are you planning on boarding your pet during the Christmas holiday? We know how hard it can be leaving your fur baby behind, so we’ve come up with some things that can help bring you peace of mind before you even leave them for boarding.
1. Ask to Take a Tour of the Facility
Knowing where your pet will be staying, the cleanliness of the kennel area, and what you can expect while they are there will go a long way to allaying some of your fears about leaving your pet. While it’s impossible to completely rid a facility of animal smells, there should not be an overwhelming smell of urine or feces. If kennels are being cleaned frequently, unpleasant smells should be minimal. Same goes for places that board cats. If litter boxes are being cleaned regularly, there should be little odor. Any place that smells strongly, or refuses to give a tour of their facility should send up a red flag that it may not be the best place to leave your pet while you are gone.
Other things you may want to ask about are, if there is play time, are dogs separated by size, age and play style; is the kennel prepared to meet any special needs your pet may have; is someone there 24/7 and do they have any webcams where you can check on your dog? All of these can be important factors in deciding where to board your pet. The best way to find reputable boarding places is through recommendations from friends or veterinarians, and by looking facilities up on your local Better Business Bureau website. While they may not be listed as an accredited BBB business, you can at least find if any complaints have been filed against them. Also, checking customer reviews online can give you a helpful view of the business from the perspective of other pet owners.
2. Make Sure You Are Stocked Up on Food and Medications
Some kennels keep food on hand that they feed to all their boarders. While this is convenient for the kennel, sudden food changes can increase the risk of a pet having stomach upset and diarrhea during and after boarding. We recommend sending your pet to the boarding facility with their own food, so make sure you have more than enough to last them through their time there. You should also stock up on any medications or supplements they are taking. Don’t forget to provide the kennel with exact instructions for any supplements or medications, including how often it is given, with food or in between meals, and any other important information. Keep medication in its original bottle from the vet or pharmacy. Also, make sure to communicate your pet’s needs prior to boarding, whether special diet or medications/supplements. Some boarding facilities won’t take pets that need excessive medications or medications that could be dangerous if given incorrectly, like insulin, so be sure to ask about their medication policy.
3. Ask About Emergency Protocols
Before scheduling boarding, ask what steps the kennel has in place for medical emergencies. Some facilities have their own vet on site, others have a vet that they contract with, and others may elect to use your pet’s regular veterinarian. Find out what their plan would be, should a medical emergency arise. In most cases, the pet owner would be responsible for any medical care given to their pet during a stay. If they use your regular veterinarian in case of emergency, you might want to give your vet a quick call. Let your vet know when you will be out of town, and how to get a hold of you. Also, be sure to tell them how you would like treatment handled in your absence. Having a plan for emergencies can certainly help alleviate many fears for pet parents.
4. Leave Multiple Ways for the Kennel to Contact You
Even as a veterinary hospital, it’s hard on our staff when we only have one way to contact an owner, and we can’t get a hold of them, especially in an emergency. So, for your peace of mind, and that of the boarding facility’s, leave them at least two phone numbers, cell and land line. It would also be a good idea to include an email address, just in case phones are not working. We also recommend leaving your regular veterinarian’s phone number, especially if your pet has any health conditions. That way, if the kennel has concerns about your pet, they know who to call.
5. Update Required Vaccines and Veterinary Care
Every kennel has vaccine and health care requirements for boarding pets. Some may differ from others, but in general, there should be a lot of similarities. Either way, you should make sure your pet meets the facility’s requirements a couple of weeks before boarding, if possible. If you wait until the last minute to update your pet’s care, you could be stuck without a place to board, if your pet is not able to get the required care prior to dropping them off. Some kennels are now requiring the Canine Influenza Virus vaccine, in the wake of the recent outbreaks. Like most other vaccines, the first time they get CIV it does need a series of 2 vaccinations given three weeks apart to be considered effective. So, know the requirements and have everything updated ahead of time. That way you aren’t faced with any last minute surprises.
Our recommended vaccines for boarding for dogs is, DA2PPV (Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Parvo), Rabies, Bordetella, and Canine Influenza vaccines. And for cats, FVRCP (Rhinotracheitis, Calici Virus, and Panleukopenia), Feline Leukemia, and Rabies. If you need a copy of your pet’s vaccine history, we’d be happy to print one out for you, or send you a copy via fax or email. Otherwise, you can always use our pet portal, ePetHealth, to access your pet’s health records online 24/7. Just make sure we already have your email address in our system. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions, 810-635-5015.