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Pet Boarding: How to Choose a Pet Boarding Kennel

Finding the right pet boarding kennel can ease travel stress


If you’re taking a trip and leaving your pet at home, you have three basic pet care options:
  1. Ask a family member, friend or neighbor to care for your pet while you’re away.
  2. Hire a professional pet sitter.
  3. Board your pet at a pet boarding kennel or veterinary clinic.

For kennels, pet boarding is a business, so their success depends on volume as much as quality care. Pet boarding kennels care for many animals at the same time, and pets are usually kept in cages or runs.

Staff members at a pet boarding kennel will feed your pet and provide exercise according to your instructions, although services such as long walks or play time often cost extra. Pets who stay in pet boarding kennels typically receive less human interaction than pets that stay at home with friends, neighbors, or a professional pet sitter.

When you are choosing a pet boarding kennel for your pet, here are a few things to consider.

Questions to Ask Before Reserving a Pet Boarding Kennel:

  • What services are included in the fee?
  • Does the pet boarding kennel provide any extra services that require additional payments?
  • Does the pet boarding kennel require current vaccinations? Which ones?
  • Will your pet be kept in a cage or a run?
  • Will your pet receive daily exercise? How much, what kind, and for how long?
  • Can the pet boarding kennel provide references by satisfied customers that you can check?
  • What types of pets does the pet boarding kennel typically take?
  • How much time will the kennel staff spend with your pet each day?
  • Does the kennel staff fully understand your pet’s dietary and medical needs?
  • How would the pet boarding kennel handle a medical emergency?
  • Is the kennel affiliated with any state or national pet care organizations?

Before Leaving Your Dog or Cat at a Pet Boarding Kennel:

  • Provide the pet boarding kennel staff with an ample supply of your pet’s medications and any special food or treats you may want your pet to receive.
  • Brief the pet boarding kennel staff on your pet’s personality, health issues, good and bad habits, level of obedience training, and how well your pet responds to strangers, children and other animals.
  • Leave a familiar object for your pet at the boarding kennel, such as a favorite toy or chew bone, or a blanket with your scent.
  • Leave your veterinarian’s phone number with the pet boarding kennel, along with your travel itinerary with contact numbers where you can be reached in an emergency.

Many veterinary clinics also provide pet boarding services for pets. If your pet is sick, injured, pregnant, recovering from surgery, or in need of special medical attention, your vet clinic may be the best pet boarding option while you’re away.

Finally, try to spend more than the usual amount of quality time playing and interacting with your pet in the days leading up to your trip. Being separated from their owners for long periods is hard on many pets. Spending a little extra time with your pet before you leave him or her off at the pet boarding kennel may make you and your pet feel better.

For a list of pet boarding kennels in your area, check with your veterinarian or contact the American Boarding Kennels Association.

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