5 Must-Dos Before Boarding Pets

Boarding Tips for Pet Owners

You just booked your dream vacation to Europe. There’s only one problem: you didn’t buy a ticket for Max or Fifi. Unlike the lucky pups in Dreamwork's "Hotel for Dogs," your pets won't be shacking up with friends in a swanky, deserted hotel with adventures abound. You need to find a safe place for your companion to stay while you're away.

Vacations are just one example of any numbers of reasons why pet owners may have to spend a night away from their trusty companions. There’s also traveling for work, an emergency situation that calls us away from our home, or illness. Regardless of the circumstances, as a responsible pet owner, sending Max off to a kennel or boarding facility may be the only option you have.

The Growing Demand for Boarding Pets

Pet boarding services have become part of a growing trend: the Pet Product Manufacturers Association (APPMA) reports that dog owners spent an average of $225 on kennel and/or boarding, and cat owners spent approximately $149.

The APPMA also reports that 42% of dog owners and 15% of cat owners have used some type of kennel or boarding service in the past six months. With 70 million dog-owning and 74.1 million cat-owning households in the U.S., boarding is big business.

Be Prepared Before Boarding Pets

Jack Russell terrier in a boarding facility

Of course, any pet owner wants to ensure their beloved companion is well taken care of. Boarding facilities normally have terms and conditions, or boarding policies, which you must read and sign before boarding your pet. Before signing on the dotted line, and for your pet’s own safety, make sure to inquire about the following:

1. Food

Ask the kennel manager what type of food and water your pet will be given during his stay. If your pet has food allergies or is on a special diet, you may want to make arrangements to have your pet given his regular food, or even possibly bring his own bowl from home for him to eat out of.

2. Pet Vaccinations

Most kennels require your pet to be current on his vaccinations, and will even verify your pet’s vaccination history. Some kennels have been known to vaccinate your pet if your pet hasn’t received his necessary shots. Check and see what your potential boarding facility’s vaccination requirements are.

3. Medications

Does your pet take medication? If so, ask if your boarding facility provides your pet’s specific medicine or whether you should bring your own supply. Most importantly, ask if they can accommodate your pet’s medication schedule, and if they charge an extra fee for the service.

4. Veterinary Services

Find out if your boarding facility retains a veterinarian on staff (or on-call) should your pet require veterinary services. Ask if they accept pet insurance, since you are the one financially responsible for any emergency medical services received while your pet is in their care.

Your pet’s safety is crucial, but so is her comfort. Some pets go through separation anxiety when they’re away from their owners; therefore, you might want to consider bringing along Fifi’s favorite toy, blanket or bed so she is more at ease and has some sense of familiarity within her new surroundings.

5. Check for Boarding Credentials

Cat

Still not sure if you’re leaving Max or Fifi in a trust-worthy environment? Organizations such as the American Boarding Kennels Association (ABKA), a non-profit trade association for over 3,000 pet care services in the United States, maintains a list of accredited facilities on their Web site that have demonstrated adherence to a comprehensive set of operational standards and have successfully completed an on-site evaluation by ABKA.

Remember: it’s important that when boarding your pet, you let the facility personnel know what your pet’s needs and habits are; the above are just suggestions to start a conversation. Different pets have different needs, so make sure to ask plenty of questions. After all, who knows your pet better than you?