Boarding Your Pet? Preparation is Key
Planning a family vacation, but can't take your four-legged family members along? Boarding is a safe, dependable option. If you choose to board your pet while you’re away, these tips can help make the boarding experience a great one for everyone, including you.
Take time to carefully plan and prepare for your pet’s stay. “Boarding can be a stressful experience for pets and Pet Parents, so it’s a good idea to do everything you can to ensure a smooth transition from your home to the boarding facility,” says PetSmart PetsHotel manager, Ben Johnson.
To help make the transition an easy one, establish comfort and familiarity for your pet with the boarding facility. Johnson suggests visiting your boarding facility a few times before the boarding appointment with your pet. This way, your pet can become acquainted with the new sounds, smells and people at the facility before they arrive for their stay. During these visits, you’ll also have a chance to take a tour, ask questions about policies, request customer references and get to know the staff who will be caring for your pet. By doing this, the kennel or pet hotel becomes a comfortable, safe place for you and your pet.
If your boarding facility offers programs like group play or day care, Johnson suggests having your pet attend a few sessions before their overnight stay. By offering your pet daytime visits before overnight boarding, your pet learns they get to come home after their stay. The Pet Care Services Association (formerly the American Boarding Kennel Association) recommends allowing your pet the opportunity for a short overnight stay to become accustomed to boarding before an extended stay away from home.
Also, be sure to complete all required paperwork ahead of time and make sure your pet is caught up on all required vaccinations. Most boarding facilities require your pet’s veterinarian’s contact information and vaccination records, emergency contact information for yourself and others who can act on your behalf in your absence as well as a pet health/behavior assessment.
Keep business as usual
It’s best to keep your pet on their regular routine during their stay. Johnson discourages Pet Parents from introducing a new diet or medication, or anything that could cause stress or an upset stomach before their pet’s stay.
Let the staff at the boarding facility know any important things about your pet including any special diet, medication, behaviors/quirks/fears, personality traits, sleeping patterns, favorite games or preferred bedding. Does your pet eat from an elevated feeder? Does your pet tear apart soft toys? Does your pet only take his medication with peanut butter and six cookies? No detail is too small when caring for pets, so make sure the staff at your kennel know as much as they can so they can take the best care for your pet while you’re away.