Important Tips for Boarding your Cat or Dog

Are your boarding your pet this holiday season? Here are some important tips to make sure your furry friend is happy and healthy while they're in boarding.

With the holiday season almost upon us, many of us will need to have our pets looked after while we are away. There are several different options available, each with their own pros and cons.

The advantage of having your pet stay at a boarding facility is the knowledge that they are being looked after by professionals who are used to caring for animals. Friends and family, while well meaning, may not have the time to look after your furry friend as well as you do. In a boarding kennel, animals are checked up on daily: to make sure they’re eating and drinking, pick up on any health concerns, and ensure they’re happy and comfortable.

If you’re thinking about boarding your pet, here are some important tips:

1. Check out the kennels and cattery
Always check out a boarding facility first. Most places will let you view their kennels and cattery. Make sure that the area the animals are kept in is clean and neat. Some things to look out for:

Enrichment – For dogs, there should be a large enough area to run around in. There should be toys to play with, and if there is contact with other dogs, this should always be supervised. Cats like to have places to hide and sleep in, as well as suitable toys to play with. Ask if you are able to bring your own bedding or toys, which can help make your pet feel more comfortable.

Staff – Observe the boarding kennel staff. Are they relaxed and happy or stressed and overworked? Also try to note how many staff members they have for the amount of animals that are in boarding.

Food & Medications – Ask what food they provide to their boarding guests, and whether you can supply your own. Make sure they’re happy to medicate your pet if required, and whether there are any extra costs associated with this.

Veterinary care – Ask what care your pet will receive if they happen to get sick or have an accident. Where is the closest vet?

Referrals – Check out their website, social media and Google for any comments from previous clients. Ask family, friends or your vet if they have any recommendations.

Opening Hours – Always find out the kennel’s opening hours and aim to have your pet there a few hours before closing time so they have time to settle in before being left for the night.

2. Make sure your pet is up to date with vaccinations
Always make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. The majority of kennels won’t let you board if they are not. Also double-check that their worming, flea and tick protection is up to scratch.

3. Book early!
As soon as you’re thinking about booking a holiday, start looking for a boarding facility. When you’ve found one that you’re happy with, book in early! Boarding kennels fill up quickly in holiday time, especially Easter and Christmas.

4. Prepare your pet
If your pet has never boarded before, it’s important to spend some time preparing them (and yourself!). For dogs, boarding can be quite an adventure. The change can be a bit more stressful for cats, although they tend to end up just sleeping most of the day.

Try it first – If your pet has shown signs of separation anxiety before, trial the kennel for a night or two before your actual holiday. This way it will be somewhat familiar to them when actual boarding time comes.

Car trip – Make sure your pet is comfortable with the car trip before you take them into boarding. If they are anxious being in a car, this will only increase their stress levels and discomfort by the time they get to the kennel. Products such as Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats can help reduce stress when travelling.

Crate training – As your pet will spend time in an enclosed space, it is a great idea to crate train them in the months before boarding. This gets them comfortable in a confined space. For cats it may be their carrier, for dogs a crate/cage that is a suitable size for them.

Collars and tags – It’s a good idea to fit your pet with a collar with an ID tag on it, just in case.

Saying goodbye – When it comes time to leave your beloved pet at the kennel don’t make a fuss, as this could increase their anxiety. Just say bye and leave quietly. A lot of places will get you to leave first before taking the pet into their kennel.

5. Enjoy!
Enjoy your holiday, knowing your furry family member is going to be well looked after while you are away.