Who’s watching your pet while you’re on vacation?

Many of us find ourselves traveling to visit family and friends during the holiday season, but are troubled to find that we have to leave a loved one behind…the family pet. Your local Better Business Bureau has some tips to ensure that when you have to board your pet it has a safe and enjoyable holiday too.

It is important to visit nearby facilities, compare services, and experience the way staff interacts with the animals before selecting a place to board your pet. Also check out the kennel’s Reliability Report with the Better Business Bureau before making a final decision.

Some questions to ask pet boarding facilities include:

  1. What is the staff to dog ratio? (One staff member for every 10 – 15 dogs is considered an optimum level)
  2. What type of training do staff members get? Are there any training requirements on how well behaved your pet needs to be?
  3. What does the kennel do if there is a medical emergency? Do they have in-house medical staff, will they take the animal to your personal veterinarian, or do they have a relationship with a third-party veterinarian that provides care for their facility?
  4. Do they mandate that all dogs they care for be current on vaccinations?
  5. How often do they clean cages and exercise the animals?
  6. Are the dogs merely supervised or does the staff interact with them?
  7. When are they fed? Can you request specific food or provide your own?
  8. Can you make special arrangements for your pet’s individualized care or are the facilities’ services standardized for all the animals boarded there?
  9. Are there various price structures for services and length of stay? Are there minimum and maximum lengths of stay for pets?

When visiting a boarding location, also consider the following points as you tour the facility:

  • Does the kennel seem overcrowded, smell, or not look clean?
  • Is there an outdoor play area? If so, does it have a security fence around it? If not, does the staff take the animals for walks on a leash outside?
  • Do the pets seem well cared for? Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring?

After you’ve decided to board your pet somewhere, it is also important to be adequately prepared for dropping them off for their stay. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Do a trial stay: Take a trail run with the kennel by having your pet stay for a short overnight stay prior to having them stay for a long period of time while you are out of town.

Protect them from parasites: Make sure your pet is up to date on their parasite control treatments for fleas, ticks, and heartworms. You don’t want them to come home with new unwanted companions.

Don’t indulge your pet: Before you drop them off at the kennel, don’t overcompensate with a few days of extra attention and treats to make up for your absence. The extra attention will make your loss more impactful on your pet when you are gone.

Don’t take favorites to the kennel: You might think that taking your pet’s favorite toy or blanket might make their stay easier, but things can get lost during playtime or when cages are being cleaned. So don’t leave anything that’s loss would create behavioral problems when you drop off your pet for its stay.

Stay calm: Don’t get emotional when you drop off your pet for their stay. Pets can sense emotions and act out based upon them. If you have family members who may not be able to control their emotions in saying goodbye, leave them at home to pack for your vacation.

It can be hard to leave your pet behind, but adequately researching facilities will prepare you and assure you that your pet will be well taken care of while you’re gone.