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CHRONICLE HERALD: What you need to know about boarding your pet

Posted on: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

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Everyday, people must decide what to do with their pets when travelling, family emergencies or illness disrupt routine care. It’s not always possible to take our four-legged fur babies with us. Pets are family and we want to ensure they are safe, happy and well cared for while we’re away. Here’s how. Doing some homework will help you find a boarding facility that is trusted and dependable.

-Ask your friends and your veterinarian for recommendations.

-Visit the kennel and look for: clean, orderly premises with well-maintained fencing/gates.

-Sleeping or relaxed pets, rather than pets that are pacing, barking or that look anxious.

-Friendly, competent staff that enjoy interacting with the animals.

-Separate housing areas or ideally, separate buildings for cats and dogs.

-Primary enclosures/sleeping quarters with enough space to move around freely; solid walls between your pet and other animals. Cat enclosures need places to climb and perch, and a litter box away from where your cat eats/sleeps

-Good ventilation, light, comfortable temperature and protection from the elements.

-Fresh food/water for each animal; clean litter boxes for each cat.

-Dog beds that allow for rest off concrete floors.

-Individual runs where dogs can exercise; a play area where dogs can socialize.

Ask the following questions:

-What are the kennel’s vaccination requirements?

-What is the ratio of staff to animals? (more than 1/10 means your pet may not receive the attention you’re hoping for.)

-Are staff trained in proper dog/cat handling techniques?

-Are dogs supervised by experienced staff in common play areas?

-Is someone trained to recognize signs of illness/distress in pets and seek veterinary help if needed?

-Is someone on the premises at night? If not, does someone check on the animals? Is there a fire/burglar alarm?

-Can you bring your pet’s food, favorite toy and/or blanket?

-How often are pets exercised? Are they walked or let out in an exercise area, or just let out to relieve themselves?

-Are dogs separated by size/age or do they all play together?

-If your pet takes medications, can they accommodate that?

-How are emergencies handled? Does the kennel use a certain veterinary hospital? Can your pet be taken to your own vet? Can you give authorization to proceed with emergency vet care if required?

-What is the daily boarding fee? Are there any additional costs (e.g. administering medications, feeding a special diet or taking your dog for extra walks?)

-Does the kennel provide additional services (e.g. grooming, bathing or training?) Cost?

-Can you review the boarding agreement?

-What are the kennel’s drop off and pick up hours?

-Does the facility have web cameras so you can check if your pet is doing well?

The answers to these questions will tell you if a boarding facility is right for your pet. You found a great boarding facility. Now what?

-Ensure you book early, particularly during peak holiday times.

-Ensure your pet’s vaccinations are current and meet the kennel’s requirements

-If the kennel offers daycare services, consider taking your pet once or twice before boarding to familiarize him with the place. Try an overnight stay before longer trips

-Ensure your pet has a collar/ID tags (ideally, microchipped.)

Here’s a checklist of items/information to give to the boarding facility:

-Copy of current vaccinations

-Contact information for you while you’re away and for your veterinarian.

-Bed and or blankets and toys.

-Food and treats, specifying daily portions.

-Medications, if any, with specific instructions.

-Behavioural issues, if any (e.g. does he nip if anxious?)

By following these tips, you can be confident your pet will be well looked after while you’re away.

Judy Layne lives in Hackett’s Cove with her husband and their two adopted pets. A lifelong animal lover, Judy is a volunteer with the NS SPCA.