Keep their diet the same: Many boarding facilities will offer food as part of your pet’s stay. However, changing up your pet’s diet can suddenly wreak havoc on their digestive system. In addition to the nerves they are already feeling by being in a new place, surrounded by strange roommates (and noises!), changing their diet can equal disaster. Consider bringing your pet’s own food with specific directions for the clinic regarding how much to administer and what time of day.
Bring your pet’s medical records: If you are boarding at a facility that is not your pet’s regular veterinary clinic, make sure to bring copies of their medical records. Most boarding facilities require certain shots in order to board and without proof, won’t let your pet stay. Additionally, giving the staff an idea of any recent medical issues will allow them to provide better care. If your pet is on any medication, don’t forget to pack it with dosing instructions.
Check out the facility first (or better yet, do a test run): If this is your first time boarding your pet (or first time at this particular facility), make sure you check it out thoroughly before dropping your pet off. Some facilities have different sizes of kennels/catteries which are best gauged in person. Many facilities will also offer separate spaces for cats, away from the loud barking and noises of dogs. If you can, do a test run for one night to see how your pet does in a new environment. It’s important to check out the facility as much as possible so you can make the best decision possible regarding your pet’s care.
Ask about optional services to make your pets stay more fun…: Some clinics or boarding facilities will offer additional play time or walks to make your pet’s stay more fun. It’s also becoming more common to find facilities with group play areas and/or “swimming pools” for dogs who love water. With pet activity trackers becoming more popular, you can even monitor your pet’s activity level while you’re away to ensure they are still exercising and staying active. Incorporating activities into your pet’s stay will not only keep them active while you’re away, but can also help the time go by faster!
…or less stressful: Additionally, many clinics are offering calming supplements to pets who have a hard time being away from home. These types of supplements, like Zylkene®, can help your pet through what can be a challenging time for them. Ask your veterinarian for more information about these types of supplemental options.
Bring some small comforts from home: Bringing your dog’s bed, toys and treats, can help reinforce the feelings of being at home and help make their stay more pleasant. The same goes for cats – ask if the facility will allow you to bring your cat’s litter box, especially if your cat is picky (which most cats are!) Having things with them that smell like or remind them of home is a great way to keep them more relaxed.
Book early and check their hours: If you find a clinic or facility that you are comfortable with, make sure you book your pet’s stay early and confirm as your trip gets closer. Many boarding facilities get booked up, particularly during the holiday season and summer. Knowing their open/closed hours is also important – are they open on Sundays? If not, and that’s the day you return, you might have to pay for an extra night.
Ask about their emergency policy: If something happens to your pet during their stay, what is the emergency plan? If they are a clinic, do they offer off-hours emergency services? If not, where do they take animals who become sick or injured and how do they determine your comfort level regarding your pet’s care? Its information you will hopefully not have to use, but if you do, are better off knowing in advance.
Make sure your pet is outfitted with updated identification: In the rare event that your pet does require professional care or is able to get free, make sure your pet has an updated collar with ID tags and contact information. Additionally, micro-chipping your pet can help drastically speed up the location process.
Check referrals and talk to your veterinarian first: It’s always a good idea to check a facility’s referrals before booking. This can help you make the best decision for your pet. If you are still unsure about where to go or how to help your pet cope with staying away from home, ask your veterinarian for their recommendations.