Pet boarding is a service lots of pet parents end up needing. How do you make sure your pet's needs are handled properly and the experience is safe and appropriate for your pet? Before you spend money and worry, there are some questions to ask staff and things to check with your own eyes.
10 Questions to ask before you board your pet:
3 Cat-specific questions:
- Are cats housed away from dogs?
- Is there enough space for cats to move around comfortably?
- Is there enough space between the litter box and food bowls?
Angie's List Tips: Choosing a pet boarding facility:
- Take a look: A reputable facility will ask that you bring your pet in to gauge how he/she reacts to the other pets. Use this time to get to know the staff and introduce your pet to the staff. The facility should look and smell clean. Do employees regularly clean up? How is the facility set up? Is it safe for your pet? Are indoor/outdoor runs available? Is there enough space in the sleeping areas? Is the bedding clean and dry?
- Check their license/certification: Check if your state requires boarding kennel inspections. If so, the facility should display this information.
- Make sure they offer proper supervision: Ask how many pets the facility accommodates. Do they have enough staff to ensure proper supervision? Do they staff the area 24/7? Do they have a veterinarian on staff?
- Food and water: Do pets have plenty of fresh water? Food bowls should be washed after every feeding to help prevent the spread of illness.
- Ask about rates: Some facilities have a checkout time. If you don't pick up your pet by that time you could be charged an additional day. Are there additional fees for administering medication or taking extra walks?
- Vaccination requirements: A reputable facility will require all pets to be current on their vaccinations and ask for proof of that information.
- Schedule setup: Ask about the pet's schedule. Most facilities have specific times set up for the pets to eat, play and sleep.
- Going for walks: Frequent walks ensure newly housebroken pets won't lose their good habits.
- Get a written contract: The contract should state the price that you are expected to pay and who is responsible for vet bills if your dog is injured or becomes ill. Make sure you get a copy of the contract as a receipt, so you can prove the dog was in their care.
- Additional services: Some pet boarding facilities now offer grooming and training services. Others even have web cams on their website so you can watch your pet from a computer.
Angie's List Tips: Preparing Your Pet for Boarding:
- Book early: Make your pet's reservation as early as possible; especially during holidays when many kennels tend to fill quickly.
- Test run: Give your pet a trial run at a boarding facility for a short trip, like a weekend. That allows you to work out any problems before boarding your pet for an extended period should you go out of town on vacation.
- Be prepared: Be sure to provide the facility with your pet's food and medications, if needed. They should also have your vet's information and a couple of phone numbers where they can reach you in case of an emergency.
- Consider other options: If your pet has an aggression problem, a boarding facility may not be the best idea. Another option would be to consider hiring a pet sitter to come to your home.
As always, get three estimates; check animal boarding kennel reviews on Angie's List; and verify a kennel's insurance and, if necessary, licensure information before hiring.
4 reasons a boarding facility might not be right for your pet:
- Stress related to staying in an unfamiliar environment.
- Proximity to other pets who may expose your pet to health problems.
- Older or anti-social pets might not be comfortable around other animals.
- The drive there could be hard on a pet stressed by car travel.