Choosing a Boarding Kennel for Your Dog or Cat

Choosing a kennel for your dog or cat is an important decision. Here are a few tips to help you know what to look for to ensure your pet will be well taken care of while you're away.

General Appearance and Kennel Safety

Call to see if the kennel you're looking to use can accommodate your pet during the time you will be away and make an appointment to visit the kennel well in advance of your scheduled holiday. Following regular daily clean-up procedures, the kennel should look (and smell) neat and clean. As part of their disease control program, some kennel operators do not permit visitors in areas where animals are housed. However, kennels with a “No Visitors” policy should provide you some type of viewing window so that you can see where your pet will be staying.

Kennels areas where your pet will stay should be free of sharp objects, harmful chemicals, and objects your pet might swallow. It should also be free of dirt, fecal accumulation, odors, and parasite infestation (flies, fleas, ticks). There should be a strict schedule of disinfecting with effective chemicals. Sleeping quarters should provide solid dividers between your pet and the other boarders. Exercise areas should include barriers between runs high enough to prevent male dogs from urinating into adjacent runs. Surfaces should offer good traction even when wet and firefighting equipment should be readily available.

Care Requirements

Proper supervision is the key to good boarding. Someone who is trained to recognize the signs of illness and distress should check pets frequently during the day. The following items should be available to your pet or required of all animals at the kennel at all times to maintain good health:

  • Water and Food: individual containers filled with clean drinking water should be available to each animal. Feeding procedures vary from kennel to kennel. Some kennels supply food and others request that you bring your pet’s food when you check in. Find out what your kennel does and be prepared.
  • Veterinary services: ask about the procedure for obtaining veterinary service, if required. Remember that it is customary for you to be financially responsible for any veterinary care required for your pet while it is being boarded.
  • Immunization requirements and medication policies: dogs should be immunized against rabies, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus (DHLPP), and bordetella before being boarded. If your pet is taking any medication, advise the kennel operator of the nature of the problem and the type and frequency of medication. Ask if there is an additional charge for medicating.
  • Parasite control: if you live in an area in which fleas or ticks are a problem, the kennel should utilize procedures for controlling these parasites (pre-entry examinations for boarders, sprays, dips, etc.).

Keeping Your Pet Comfortable

You should inquire into the following items that will affect the comfort of your pet:

  • Temperature control and ventilation: The kennel should be able to maintain temperatures within healthful, comfortable limits for your pets, while good ventilation (no drafts) helps minimize the spread of airborne bacteria and viruses.
  • Protection from the elements and proper light: Exercise areas should provide shelter from wind, rain, snow and direct sunlight and lighting should be at comfortable levels during the day.
  • Bedding and sleeping quarters: Some kennels provide resting platforms or bedding, while others ask that you bring bedding from home. Make sure you know if you'll need to provide bedding before your arrival. Additionally, your kennel should provide a place for sleeping (a primary enclosure). It should be clean and dry and roomy enough for your pet to stand up comfortably, turn around easily and stretch out in.
  • Exercise area: dogs should have enough space to enable them to break into a run. Exercise time will depend upon the kennel’s layout. In some kennels, dogs are allowedfree-access to their own individual exercise runs during the day. Other kennels use a ‘time-sharing’ method for scheduling exercise. In such kennels, make sure that the time allowed and the frequency of exercise periods are adequate for your dog.
  • Additional services: many pet owners find it convenient to schedule grooming, bathing, or training for their pets while they are in the kennel for boarding. Ask if such services are available. If you are in the process of moving, the kennel may even be able to take care of shipping your pet. Such a service can save you time and trouble, and helps ensure the safety of your pet.

Article submitted by: © Terri Perrin

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