Family emergencies, travel or sickness can disrupt the normal pet care routine, leaving pet parents confused about what to do with their pets. With pet boarding facilities available, pet parents can be assured their pets are well taken care of. Here’s how to find the right pet boarding facility for your pooch.
Every pet parent must have gone through a dilemma of where to leave your pet while travelling. Sometimes, we take our pets along, only to discover that restrictions on the stay of pets in hotels, travel induced pet illness and runaway pets can turn our trip into a nightmare. Leaving the pets with well meaning but untrained neighbours yields unsatisfactory results as lack of reliable supervision on the part of such part time custodians often leads to serious pet illnesses, or worse still, incidences of pets escaping. Pet parents have come to recognise that experienced and full time kennel operators offer a dependable pet care available. Boarding kennels give pets a chance to avoid the long and stressful car or plane rides to various destinations, apart from letting them stay in a place where they are truly welcome.
How to select a boarding?
Veterinarians deal with pet parents all day and can provide important scoop on reliable boarding kennels. Friends, neighbours or even random strangers in the park who own pets can also be a good source of information about such kennels. Dog behaviourists and trainers can also guide pet parents to trustworthy kennel operators, as can the staff in a nearby animal shelter. Pet parents can also check the Yellow Pages or seek information online regarding such services in nearby areas.
What to look for in a kennel?
Boarding kennels ensure that leaving pets under the care of a third party need not be stressful for the pet parents or the pets anymore. However, pet parents should take note of various factors that will help them decide whether a kennel is suitable to house their pet or not.
Appearance: Proper sanitization is very important for a kennel to be deemed good. The living and playing areas should look and smell clean. They should be free of waste, faeces and urine to prevent diseases from spreading. They should be free of parasite infestation as well. A strict disinfecting schedule should be followed to sanitize the kennel. The boarded animals should look calm and content. Kennels with a strict ‘No Visitors’ policy should at least provide pet parents a glimpse of the area where their pet will be staying. Certain facilities may have web cams set up to allow pet parents to check in on their animal through the computer while they’re away.
Provision for animal comfort: The kennel should be well lit and adequately ventilated to prevent airborne microbes from spreading. The temperature should be maintained within comfortable limits for the pets. Pet parents should ask if special provisions can be made in case of older pets and pets that require warmer or cooler temperatures than what is normally provided. In addition to resting platforms, beddings should be provided to allow dogs to rest off the concrete floor. The primary enclosure or sleeping area should be spacious enough for the pet to stand, turn and stretch out comfortably, in addition to being clean and dry. Clean drinking water should be made available to each animal in individual containers.
Staff attitude: The attitude of the kennel staff is more important than any animal handling certification. The staff should demonstrate a high level of understanding and concern for the pets through their way of handling the animals and addressing the owner’s concerns. They should be able to provide details about every animal under their care. Besides being friendly and welcoming, they should take notes about information such as the pet’s diet, exercise needs, medications and favourite toys.
Pet supervision: Overcrowded kennels are a strict ‘no-no’. The higher the human to animal ratio at any given point of time, the better is the likelihood of the pet getting more individual attention. Proper supervision of the pets is extremely important. It is, therefore, important to know if someone will be on the premises at all times to check on the animals regularly. Pets should be frequently monitored by staff members trained to recognise the signs of illness and distress, which requires experience and practical knowledge. Untrained personnel may not be able to detect or interpret significant symptoms as lethargy, loss of appetite or urinary problems, leading to serious health concerns.
Hours of operation: Days and hours of business should be clearly posted for the visitors to see. Certain kennels are also closed on weekends or holidays, which the pet parents should keep in mind. Kennels are usually fully booked during holidays and vacations. Hence, making an early reservation is important. Pets should be checked in during business hours.
Healthcare provisions and veterinary services: A good kennel should require all pets to be current on their vaccinations before boarding them, as it helps in protecting them from diseases. The commonly required vaccinations for dogs are rabies, distemper, hepatitis , parvovirus, adenovirus, bordetella, leptospirosis and canine influenza. Preventatives for fleas, ticks and heart worm are also strongly advised. Personal attention, time and patience should be devoted to disabled pets. Arthritic pets should receive soft bedding on which to rest. If a pet is on medications, pet parents should make sure that the kennel has a routine to ensure that timely medications are given and there is no chance of overdose or missed doses. Pet parents should inquire if the boarding has stocks of such medications or if they are supposed to bring it themselves. Some kennels have a veterinarian on their premises while others prefer to use the pet’s original veterinarian to ensure continuity of care.
Exercise needs: Kennels should have adequately sized runs and exercise schedules for each dog. Exercise areas should be properly shielded against rain, direct sunlight and wind. A good kennel should have a system in place to segregate dogs by their size, age and playing style to ensure their safety and happiness. Kennels should also offer dog walking services for energetic dogs that require more exercise.
Pet safety: Boarding kennels should have sturdy, well-maintained fencing and gates to prevent pets from escaping. Kennel areas should be free of sharp objects, torn fences, jagged edges and bent wires. Chew toys, harmful chemicals and objects pets might swallow should be kept safely out of their reach. Cats should be housed away from dogs. Dogs at a boarding should never wear collars to avoid serious strangulation hazards. Solid dividers should be provided between enclosures to ensure better pet safety, prevent aggressive territorial marking as well as enable pets to relax without feeling challenged by their neighbours. Surfaces should offer good traction and be non slippery. Fire-fighting equipment should be easily accessible.
Feeding schedule: Owners should determine the kennel’s policy and know if there are additional charges for special feeding arrangements. Certain kennels serve preferred brands of feed to all boarders. Some have a stock of popular brands and feed the pet as per the owner’s preference. Some kennels require food to be brought in by the pet parents when they check in.
Rate calculation: Boarding rates of the kennel should be clearly displayed. The method of calculating boarding charges differs from kennel to kennel. Some kennels have a checkout time, after which an additional day’s charges are levied. Others charge by the night or day.
Boarding contract: Kennels should have a boarding agreement which clearly states the pet parent’s rights and the kennel’s responsibilities. This form protects the pet parent and the kennel from any misunderstandings.
Other precautions: Pet parents should provide the kennel with a number where they can be contacted in case of an emergency, in addition to the number for a local contact. The number of the pharmacy from where the pet’s medications are bought should also be stated so that a refill can be purchased in case of delayed return of the pet parent. Kennel operators should be informed about any special problems that the pet has such as fear of thunder or epilepsy.
Preparing pets for being boarded: It is always a good idea to accustom pets to kennel stays by first boarding them during shorter trips. This allows pet parents to work out any problems before boarding them for extended periods of time as well as prevent separation anxiety. Long, emotional partings should be avoided to prevent pets from feeling unnecessarily anxious. Pets should not be overfed before being boarded as it could lead to an upset stomach. Lastly, pet parents should trust their gut when it comes to choosing the right kennel for their furry companion. If they feel comfortable there and get along well with the staff members, it’s likely that the pets will feel at ease there as well. If a kennel can come close to feeling like home for the pet, pet parents can go attend to their tasks without having to worry about their pet.