Watch Tip: Boarding Facilities

Posted on June 12th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWatch tip for the week of June 12:

Be thoughtful about the care of your pets during your summer vacation. Remember, your pets will not understand that you will return; they absolutely will be stressed unless boarding or day care is a very regular event in their lives. Some sensitive pets can be traumatized. Choose a boarding facility that is somewhat like a place they have lived in the past if possible. Arrange trial visits of hours or an overnight to learn if your pets can tolerate the facility.

If petsitters or neighbor visits are not an option, boarding can be a good solution

…but only if you are careful. Imagine your pet’s point of view. Your dog or cat is living with you happily in your home, and suddenly it all changes drastically. After a car ride, your pet is abruptly put into a pen or small room. There are lots of stranger dogs or cats nearby; are they safe? They are all making too much noise whenever a human comes by. The water doesn’t taste right. There are awful sharp smells from cleaning solutions. And worst of all, your mom or dad, your protector who keeps you safe and fed and loved, has vanished. Your dog or cat could be traumatized by living in an unfamiliar environment while at the same time literally mourning your loss for days or weeks. While some animals adjust easily, others suffer. Boarding kennel owners can tell you stories about some sensitive animals in their care who refuse to eat or become fearful or even aggressive as they become more and more depressed or desperate.

One deeply depressed Great Dane in a boarding kennel in Minnesota refused to eat or drink and would have died; her owner had to fly home weeks early from her European trip because of her dog’s suffering. The frantic kennel owner was consulting daily with the dog’s veterinarian. The kennel owner could not get the dog to swallow even teaspoons of baby food swabbed into her mouth and would have soon needed intravenous fluids to stay alive.

Research services in your region; there may be some very appealing options near you:

  • Dog motels offer home-like boarding in rooms with furniture, regular walks and cuddles, and even television may be available
  • Boarding facilities may have spacious indoor-outdoor kennels and scheduled daily access to exercise pens
  • Vet clinics may offer boarding for dogs and cats, including regular walks and cuddles by experienced staffers
  • Dog day care or day camps often offer boarding services; daily routines can include playtime with their friends
  • Some individuals offer pet boarding in their homes, allowing pets on furniture, and encouraging you to bring your pet’s bed
  • Your groomer might offer boarding services

Bring your pet for trial days or overnights in advance of your vacation. Be sure to supply your pet’s food and bedding. Do call your boarding staff  during the first few days to make sure your pet is adjusting, eating, and appears to be eliminating normally. If your pet appears to be seriously stressed, think about returning home early if necessary.

Do you have close friends with pets who would consider taking your pet into their home during vacations if you will do the same for their pets? That can be an excellent long-term solution for vacation pet care through the years because your pet already knows your friends and their family pets.

    One Response to “Watch Tip: Boarding Facilities”

    1. Joy Ward says:

      Another excellent Watch Tip, Anna! This is such a tough decision for pet parents. As you noted even the best kennels are strange to dogs and cats.

      One thing I’ve seen work well is having a student stay in your home with your pets. A lot of students need extra money and can give you good references. If you don’t know any students you can always call the student affairs office of the local law or med school. If you’ve got a vet school nearby that’s even better.

      You can also ask at your vet’s office of any of the staff are willing to house sit for you.

      Thanks again, Anna!

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