What to Look for When Boarding Your Pet 

November 17, 2022

We all love our pets. They bring so much into our daily lives. They make us laugh, cry, and cry laughing. They can feel like family! No matter how close we get to our pets, and no matter how much we don't want to…we all need to leave them behind once in a while.

One of pet owners' biggest questions is who to trust with their precious pet while out of town. It can feel like an intimidating decision. Internet searches will give you heaps of results, and while some organizations like AKC might keep a list of accredited sites, even choosing between those is difficult. How do you pick the right landing spot for your pet? And when you do, what kinds of questions might you ask them? What kinds of things can you do to prepare yourself beforehand? What kind of information should you have ready? Don't worry - we've been there before. We know it can all be a little overwhelming.

Here are ten boarding tips to help you prepare when Rover stays behind.

Tip 1: Bring Your Own Pet Food!

If you're allowed to bring your own food, try to do that. It really can help your pet adjust during what can be a stressful situation. It's common for a boarding place to provide food for pets during their stay. But pets are often already a little nervous in a new environment, surrounded by many new friends and all their smells and sounds.

Making sure your staff knows when your dog eats typically and how much, as well as any other specific instructions. Is there anything else you know that makes your pet happy, calms them down, or distracts them? Make sure you let your staff know.

Pet food in a metal bowl on a floor

Tip 2: Know Your Pet's Medical History

Your boarding place might want to know more about your pet's overall health. Get your pet's medical history organized. Make sure you've got a copy of your pet's medical history ready to go. What requirements might there be for boarding? What paperwork might you want handy when you drop your pet off? Some places require certain vaccinations, and you'll need proof.

Pet insurance information might be good to bring as well. Are they on medications? Make sure you've got that documented, along with any instructions. The more the kennel knows, the better they can help keep your pet safe.

happy dog puppy as lying in the grass

Tip 3: Understand the Basics

Call the boarding business and ask them about some of the basics. Who runs the business? How long have they been in business? What kinds of dogs do best there? Take a tour of the boarding facility. Does it seem clean? Smell clean? Some places have different sizes of kennels, so you'd be wise to check what they've got. Keep an eye on where different animals go, and how separate or close together they are.

For example, if you knew your cat was agitated by dogs, you might check for how close those two areas might be. As you walk through, do dogs wag their tails and seem happy? If you think it might fit, do a trial run for a few hours or a night. Ask the staff how they think your dog did and notice how it behaves. The more you can check out the place before a long commitment, the better.

A female staff member at a kennel supervises several large dogs playing together

Tip 4: Ask About Add-On Services

Some boarding places offer special services for a little extra cash. Things like extra walks, extra playtime, or special games keep your dog's mind engaged and entertained. Does your dog love water? You might even find a facility with a swimming pool for dogs! Some people use a pet activity tracker to keep tabs on how much their pets exercise. The busier the bee, the faster the time goes. These activities help keep your pet entertained and help them to rest at night after a long active day.

Tip 5: Understand Your Pet's Hesitations

Being in a new place can be tough on some pets. Does your pet usually have a hard time in new environments? Certain supplements can help calm your pet if they're a bit anxious. If you think this could be helpful for your pet, don't hesitate to ask us. We will be happy to discuss options with you.

Tip 6: Remember Your Pet's Comfort Items

Other than supplements, there are other ways to calm your pet. What do they like to be comforted by at home? Remember to ask if you can bring comfort items like a favorite toy or blanket, your cat's litter box, or even your dog's own bed. These little reminders of comfort can help keep our critters calm and happy.

Cute dog with different pet accessories at home

Tip 7: Reserve Your Pet's Spot Early

We can't stress this tip enough. Nothing will add stress to your plate faster than an upcoming trip with no pet plan! Boarding services often book quickly, especially around major holidays and summertime. Also, remember to check their hours and ensure you can pick up your pet when it works. Plan ahead to get ahead!

Tip 8: Verify Their Emergency Plan

What happens if there's an emergency? Where do they take pets in that situation? What kinds of medical help can be offered on-site? Hopefully, you won't need to know the answer to any of these, but better to know than to worry later. Asking in advance can help ease your mind if a problem does occur while you are away.

cat wearing collar with tag

Tip 9: Update Your Pet's Information

Ensure you've got all the latest information on your pet's tags. New address or phone number? Many pet shops can print new tags for cheap. Microchipping your pet is also quick and easy. It's the fastest and surest way to find your pet if they get lost.

Tip 10: Trust Referrals and Reviews

Do they have any references that you could chat with? Do you know anyone who has used them before? If not, try to speak with someone who knows the business and can speak to their experience with the company. Make sure you are validating the experiences other pets have had to see if the facility is the right boarder for your pet.

How Can Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital Help?

The best way to ensure you and your pet have a great experience with your kennel or boarding facility is to be prepared. With these tips in mind, we hope you're feeling closer to that goal. If you have any questions or concerns about the care of your pet, we're here to help. Call Advanced Vet today – and enjoy your time away!