We’re planning our summer vacation and are considering boarding our dog while we’re away. Is this a safe option and how should we find a kennel that is a good fit for our dog?
Wanderlust in Woodland Heights
Summer is the most popular time of the year for people to travel. With these fun travel plans comes the age-old question: “What do we do with Fido while we’re away?” Luckily, in our pet-loving society, you have some good options for keeping Fido safe and happy in your absence.
According to Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, boarding kennels—or facilities that house a large number of kennels for dogs and cats to stay in—should be considered a possibility when you decide your furry-friend cannot make the trip with you. Boarding kennels are comprised of various sized kennels. There are typically several kennels in a room, and some may have outdoor access. Some kennels are part of a veterinary hospital, while others are simple boarding facilities. Many kennels are built to reduce the noise and visibility of other pets.
If you decide to board your pet, what should you look for in a boarding facility?
“Recommendations from friends and family are important and may be a good starting point in looking for a boarding kennel,” she said. “In general, kennels should be clean and should require basic vaccines for their clients. Even if a pet is adequately vaccinated, the likelihood of spreading disease is higher when several pets are housed together. No vaccine is 100 percent effective.”
In addition, it is important to tour the boarding kennel to ensure you feel safe keeping your pet there while you are out of town. Questions you should ask yourself include, “Is the facility clean? How often are the pets fed? Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring? Are veterinary services available? Will my pet be comfortable in the kennels provided? Will my pet get adequate exercise?”
“You should be able to tour the facility before you decide to use their services,” Eckman said. “Some facilities offer outdoor play and exercise time, while some offer individual ‘suites’ for pets that offer more room.” Deciding what environment will be most comfortable will play a major part in deciding the best boarding kennel for your pet.
Although boarding kennels can make a great option for when you have to leave your pet behind, there are some potential drawbacks. Your pet may experience stress due to the environment and other pets may expose your pet to health problems. Additionally, if your pet gets sick from car travel and the facility is a long drive from your home, the drive to the boarding center can be a challenge.
If you feel as though boarding isn’t a good option for your dog or if you have a cat who needs care while you’re away, a pet sitter is a wonderful alternative. Ask your neighbors and friends for recommendations for a professional pet sitter and be sure that he or she is bonded and insured for both the safety of your pet and for your home. Once you have an established plan of care for your pet, you’ll find it less stressful to travel–for both you and Fido.
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