Top 3 Things You Should Do Before Boarding Your Pet!!
Pet boarding can be very anxiety inducing. The worries stack up...will my pet be properly cared for? Will they be a ball of anxiety like we are when we are away from them? There are ways to make the process easier for everyone. A little bit of preparedness goes a long way. 3 easy steps and you'll be boarding worry free!
1. Visit the facility:
Always schedule a time to visit a new boarding facility prior to your pets first stay. It is important to know what kind of facility your dog or cat will have access to. Things to think about during your visit...what kind of exercise and outside time they will receive? Does the number of staff available to care for your pet seem appropriate? Ask yourself while touring, is it clean? Do the pets appear well maintained, is water and food readily available? Is the facility well ventilated, heated, cooled? What is the cost per night? Ask what are their emergency procedures in case of a fight or injury/illness during your pets stay? Is there a vet close by, perhaps one the facility is affiliated with? Lastly, is the facility secure? Do they have a walking area that is properly enclosed and secure? Are the outside areas covered to protect your pets from the elements? These are all highly important items to ensure your pet will be happy and healthy during their stay and will come home happy and healthy as well.
Boarding facilities also have different types of boarding available. Ask what your facility offers! For example, group boarding or individual boarding. Does your pet do better with group play or is your dog a “lone wolf” who just wants to sleep all day? Or perhaps your pet doesn't do well with others and needs to be kept alone...these things are important to find out as not all facilities will fit the personality of your pet. Some pets don't do well with group settings and will need to stay alone, while others thrive in that environment.
Lastly, don't be afraid to ask lots of questions! Any questions, all questions! A reputable boarding facility will want to walk you through the process to make the process less anxiety inducing for both you and your pet. They want what you want, a happy, healthy boarding experience!
2. Get a copy of your Vaccine History:
All credible boarding facilities will require an up to date vaccine history for your pets.
Vaccines should always include: Rabies, Distemper (DHLPP/DAPP/DHPP), and Kennel Cough (Bordetella) for dogs and Rabies and Feline Distemper (FVRCP) for cats.
Since your pets will be in close proximity to others while boarding it is important to have all these up to date prior to arrival for your boarding dates. Some facilities have specific guidelines regarding the frequency of these vaccines and how soon before boarding they must be done. Or some have extra requirements about fecal exams or flu vaccines, so it is always important to check with your vet to get updated records and speak with your boarding facility PRIOR to boarding to make sure your pet has everything required.
If your facility doesn't require vaccines or is lax on checking them, BEWARE! These vaccines are required to keep your animal, as well as all the other boarding animals, safe from illness during and after their stays.
A lot of vet practices offer smartphone apps that list all your pets vaccines and due dates. These are super helpful for you and your boarding facilities, especially in cases of emergency boarding. Ask your vet clinic if they have one you can download today! If not, it is always a good practice to keep an up to date vaccine history in your vehicle's glove box – just in case.
3. Make a list of special feeding/medication instructions:
Boarding facilities love details! This might seem sarcastic, but I assure you, it is not. Since most facilities are dealing with lots of animals at once, it may be hard to remember specifics about one particular animal. This is why notes and lists are so important, especially when dealing with pets with health issues and/or medications. Be as detailed as possible...what is the medication? What's the dosage? What vet clinic prescribed it? How does your pet take his meds? With food/ without? Is there something we can do to encourage pill taking? Will they need to be pilled? It is vital to not vary medication schedules so all information is important in these cases! It is usually necessary to bring medications in the pill bottles they come in as well – just in case of any medical questions – the boarding facilities have dosage / vet information instantly accessible.
As well as medication notes, feeding instructions are important as well. A lot of times the stress and anxiety from being in a new facility can cause anorexia in pets. If we have notes on feeding tricks or schedules from home, we can try our best to not vary that schedule to keep your pets happy and anxiety free. Make sure you always include more than enough food / treats / medications while packing for your stay as well – you never know when a trip will be delayed!
A lot of facilities will offer their own food during stays as well, so it is important to notate whether your pets will be eating your own food or the facilities food during the stay. If bringing your own food, list the quantity and frequency of meals. Does your pet need cheese on top or bottom of the bowl? Does he need water added? Does he have food allergies? Put it in the note! Again, most facilities will ask but with a lot of animals to be maintained, notes definitely help.
Outside of detailed notes about medications and food, pets medical issues as well as temperament issues are important to be notated. A pet might arrive with no medications, but have a medical condition that a boarding facility should be aware of. Their daily schedule may need to be varied because of this, so let them know! Some conditions might make it hard for them to tolerate any heavy play or heat or require them to have extra available water or rest time. This pet might also need to be kept in a part of the facility that is more easily monitored to keep a closer eye on any issues that may arise. This goes as well for temperament issues. Some pets dislike other dogs/cats, or small dogs/cats, or tall people, or blankets with fringe....these things may seem trivial, but they need to know. This helps keep the anxiety reduced within your pet, as well as keeping them safe from any injuries from fights, etc, and makes their visit a little easier for themselves as well as the boarding facility.
Anytime you have to be away from your pets for any length of time - anxiety will occur. Both you and your pets will experience it, it's bound to happen. Being familiar with the facility, knowing they are using the best precautions to keep your animals safe, and knowing they are familiar with your pets feeding/medication schedule will definitely help alleviate any stressors you both will feel.