Although there are many dog friendly accommodation options for travellers, often it is necessary to consider placing your dog into a boarding establishment for the duration of your holidays. Numerous places are listed as boarding kennels but care needs to be taken to ensure the one chosen is appropriate for your dog and suits your needs.
Choosing a boarding establishment with whom to leave your beloved dog can be a challenging task for many owners. It is essential to book as far in advance as is reasonable to ensure you can book your first choice. The best place to start when searching for a boarding kennel is with trusted family and friends who can provide referrals to kennels they have found provided excellent levels of service and care to their animals. Regardless of where you find out about a boarding kennel it is imperative to personally visit the kennel to look it over and discuss any concerns or specific requirements of your pet with the proprietors.
Visiting a Boarding Kennel
A primary consideration is the level of comfort you feel at the property. All owners should be welcomed to check the appropriateness of the kennel prior to booking in their pet. Take this opportunity to check the level of cleanliness of the premises, the cleanliness of the animals being boarded at that time, provision of warmth or cooling for weather extremes, and to discuss any of your pet's specific needs. You should find out about the housing arrangements size of run, individual runs vs shared accommodation, provision of exercise, type of food fed, dog toys and dog treats, and vaccination requirements.
The individual temperament of the dog should be considered when considering housing in individual or shared accommodation situations. Generally most animals will be housed individually unless from the same household. However the proprietors should be given information about the dog's social nature so consideration can be given to this during exercise time and the like.
Pet Medications and Vaccinations
All animals being placed into boarding establishments and living in close confinement with other animals should be appropriately vaccinated. The ease of transmission of some canine viruses under these conditions can be increased so the proprietor should be questioned about what level of vaccination is required of animals entering their premises. Although some owners may find it frustrating to have their dog vaccinated in order to enter a boarding kennel, it actually provides a higher level of protection for your dog by ensuring that the risk of disease transmission is lowered during their stay as all other animals have been similarly vaccinated. Different kennels will have different requirements so ask the proprietor at the time of booking to ensure your pet can be adequately protected before entering the kennel. Most require vaccination against canine distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus, with many requiring the additional protection against highly contagious kennel cough. Obviously the higher the requirements the higher the protection afforded to all the animals being housed there.
You should find out about the willingness of the kennel staff to medicate your dog with its regular preventative pet medications (heartworm, flea control and the like). It is likely you will need to personally provide this medication. If your dog requires regular prescription dog medication for ongoing illnesses or medical disorders this should be discussed up front to ensure that the kennel being considered can provide adequate monitoring and medicating for your pet's special needs.
Dog Grooming and Play Time
Dogs being housed in a kennel situation still require regular exercise and grooming. In some cases this can be an additional extra to the basic boarding schedule. Owners should ensure that their dog will be adequately exercised to prevent boredom and to maintain health. Similarly, regular grooming should be offered, especially for long haired breeds and dogs staying for extended periods of time.
Another consideration can be the amount of human-dog interaction that the animal will experience during its stay. All animals should be exposed to a reasonable degree of human interaction on a daily basis, but special consideration will need to be made for dogs that are used to extended amounts of human interaction. This should be discussed with the kennel owners and these dogs may be more suited to a smaller establishment where the dog numbers are lower and there is more time for human-dog interaction. Some of these dogs may not even be suited to a boarding establishment and may benefit more from the use of a pet-sitter.
All Important Dog Food
Rapid changes in a dog's diet can lead to dietary indiscretion. It is important to never change a dog's diet rapidly. Discussing the pet food on offer at the kennel prior to booking in is highly recommended. Obviously the most ideal situation would be if the boarding kennels provided your dog's normal diet for the duration of its stay. However this is not always possible. In many cases it may be possible to provide your dog's regular diet for the first few days so as to allow the kennel staff to acclimatise your dog to their dog food. Otherwise providing the dog food for the full duration of the stay may be an option. Alternately you may be able to acclimatise the dog slowly to the kennel's dog food prior to the start of its stay.
Dog Comfort and General Health
Helping your dog to settle into its new surroundings is very important. Providing some of your dog's normal toys or bedding for use during its stay may assist. The provision of an old t-shirt worn by the owner and unwashed prior to its stay can provide a familiar smell for your dog whilst you are away. The provision of such items needs to be discussed with the kennels prior to booking as it may not be allowed.
Unfortunately some animals may become unwell or sustain an injury during their time at a boarding kennel. It is vital to discuss the protocol followed by the kennel prior to booking in case of this occurring. Do they have a visiting vet? Will they use your vet if local? Will they only access veterinary help after discussing it with the owner of the animal or can you give permission for immediate veterinary care up to a given value to stabilise your animal until you can be contacted? This is an essential consideration to have organised prior to your holiday in the best interest of your dog and for your personal peace of mind whilst away.
Ensuring your dog is adequately cared for during your absence is easily managed if a few considerations are addressed prior to making a booking for a boarding establishment. Whilst it will be impossible to replicate the normal situation at home for your dog whilst you are away it is possible to provide a low stress, comfortable and safe environment for them to stay in. Making enquiries and booking as soon as is reasonable and ensuring that all of your dog's specific needs can be accommodated (within reason) can allow for an enjoyable stay for the dog and a worry free break for you.