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Finding the Right Pet Boarding Home


So, you’ve decided to take a trip and need a location to board your pets safely and comfortably. How do you pick the best canine resort or boarding facility when there are so many? Here are some things to consider and questions to ask before settling on a temporary residence for your companion.

You should call ahead to make sure they board your specific pet breed. It may be easier to locate a place to stay for canine and feline companions than for birds, rodents, or reptiles. Some veterinarians who specialize in “exotics,” as these animals are sometimes called, may also provide boarding services for their customers. Even if a business claims to accept exotic pets as part of a “package deal” that includes dogs and cats, you should still research whether or not they have employees trained to care for your species.

The internet and phone books have extensive pet care facility listings, so pet owners have plenty of options. You could consult personal connections or local online directories like CitySearch, which lists businesses and feature customer reviews. Narrow your choices on accessibility and other factors, such as reviews and suggestions. It would be best to research the individual facilities like you would explore a child’s daycare needs by asking many questions and putting in a lot of time and effort.

Having access to a visit to the premises is crucial. Find out if tours are available by phone and if they require an appointment. Most high-quality establishments will happily give you a time at your convenience during their posted business hours. The facility may not be up to par if they refuse to provide times or insist that you schedule an appointment to see it. When the facility is occupied caring for pets or facilitating departures, even the best of them may refuse to give tours on holidays or days when they are only open for pick-ups for a short time (typically Sundays).

You should pay close attention to the absence of odors on your first tour. Good kennels shouldn’t have any unpleasant odors that are sometimes connected with them because of strict cleaning and sanitation standards. Inquire about the facility’s cleansing and sanitation practices, and take note of its general tidiness.

The facilities that best meet your expectations for your pets’ care may be identified with the aid of the following list of questions (and your requirements for your pets and their needs):

1. Is it possible to transport your pet(s)’ regular food (especially crucial if they require a special diet or have digestive issues)? Which food brands do they stock?

2. What are the limits on their ability to administer medication?

3. When it comes to feeding and medication administration, how flexible are they, and how often can they do it?

4. When and for how long do you let them out for bathroom breaks?

5. Do the rooms have air conditioning and heat? How big are the rooms, and what amenities come standard? Larger rooms or enclosures for your companion may be your priority if they have special requirements.

6. Is bedding provided, and can you bring your pet’s furniture and toys?

7. Is it standard practice for dogs to socialize with those of other households? If so, what measures are in place to prevent any mishaps?

8. Is it okay for numerous pets to share an apartment? Is it possible to keep them apart during feeding or other moments of need?

9. How do they deal with animals that seem anxious? Signs of stress in a boarding scenario include poor eating habits, the onset of vomiting and diarrhea, restlessness and pacing, and so on. If your companion has persistent issues, a reputable facility will let you know, and they may recommend over-the-counter medications, treats, or even hand-feeding to encourage eating.

10. How do they deal with potential medical emergencies? Is there a doctor on staff or available in case of an emergency? If something like this ever happens, how do they contact you? When they need local veterinary, many reputable facilities will try to contact them or ask you for a recommendation. In an emergency where they can’t get you immediately, they’ll usually have you fill out an emergency permission form.

11. I need to know about their health and vaccination needs. Most reputable institutions will require Rabies, the distemper/parvovirus combination, and bordetella for respiratory illness protection. Vaccination requirements may change based on where in the country you reside and the prevalence of certain diseases. For the safety of all animals, many boarding facilities only accept pets over a certain age (four months is typical; they also typically demand the complete set of vaccinations for puppies and kittens). Veterinarian boarding may be the best option for young pets (puppies and kittens), elderly pets, or pets with serious health problems because veterinarians are in a better position to monitor your pets’ ongoing health and may be able to respond more swiftly in the event of an emergency.

12. Ask about any additional programs they may offer to make your pet’s stay more enjoyable, as research has shown that pets do better when they are active and stimulated while in a boarding setting. Is doggie daycare or other enjoyable activities offered in addition to regular playtimes? Many options are available at high-quality facilities to pick the best choice for your companion.

13. How many people are at work, and how do they get their education? A minimum of one employee per twenty-five dogs is recommended, and all employees should undergo some form of instruction. To have someone on staff who may be able to spot potential health concerns quickly, you should inquire as to whether or not anyone on the team has any previous veterinary experience (for example, are there managers who have worked as veterinary technicians).

The Pet Care Services Association (PCSA) is a non-profit group that provides lodging establishments with best practices and a Code of Ethics. It also allows its employees to become certified as pet care technicians. Suppose the facility you’re considering is a PCSA member. In that case, you can rest assured that it adheres to the same high standards of care and animal welfare as the rest of the organization’s member facilities.

Last but not least, the personnel of a well-run institution should be knowledgeable about animals and enthusiastic about their work. Staff members should be welcoming and helpful; they might even welcome your pets before they greet you!

Joy Lee co-owned and managed the Rover Oaks Pet Resort in Katy, TX. She has written a book called “Rover’s Rescues…True Stories of Shelter Dogs and Second Chances,” and she plans to give a portion of the proceeds to the Houston chapter of Citizens for Animal Protection. To learn more, go to her website.

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