Going out of town or traveling in winter with a dog can be a rather dramatic action for both pet owners and their pets. Most owners would prefer having a trusted family member or friend swing by so they can preserve the pet’s routine.
But unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. (This is especially true over the holidays when practically everyone has made special plans.) So if the regular pet-sitter just can’t swing it this year, pet owners should consider these tips for smarter boarding.
Kennels and pet hotels will fill up quickly around the holidays and the last thing a pet owner needs is to be stuck with a facility that has seen better days. Not only will owners need time to do the research, but they may also want to physically visit the facilities to get a better idea of what they’re signing up for. And don’t forget to stock up on your pets medication, including dog vitamins – and for those cold winter days, dog hip and joint supplements.
Ask the Vet
A vet will likely be familiar with the many options in the area. Asking them can give owners a clearer picture of just how well their pet will fare while they’re away from home. Some vets will get a lot of emergency calls from kennels around the holidays — either because of an unavoidable illness outbreak or because the facility cuts corners when it comes to their safety practices.
Check the Certification
Kennels can be opened without any official certification, but it can be comforting for pet owners to find one who happens to have it. A facility may be perfectly safe without it, but the certification proves the owners are motivated enough to go the extra mile to reassure their customers. It’s definitely not easy to get a certification through the Pet Care Services Association, so pet owners can be relatively certain that they’re signing up with a reputable business.
Emergencies can occur at any time of day, but few kennels offer 24-hour services. And while most pets will be fine for a few hours on their own, it can be uncomfortable for pet owners to leave their animal’s fate to chance. Ask the kennel what their policy is to avoid after-hours emergencies. A sleeping kennel owner on the premises (who can at least hear a dog bark or a cat howl) is better than a kennel owner who leaves for the night.
Play and Exercise
Safety is always going to be the biggest priority for pet owners, but playtime is an important part of the kennel experience too. Kennels may include scheduled exercise in the cost of their fees, but some will make owners pay extra for the service. Pets can become extremely stressed during this time period if they have no release and the effects of the stress can easily extend long after the New Year.
Major Red Flags
There are a few red flags that pet owners need to pay attention to:
- Mangled wire
- Jagged edges
- Broken fencing
- Unattended dogs with chew toys
When visiting a kennel, keep an eye out for any of these red flags. A collar may seem like a perfectly reasonable thing for a dog to have, but the strangulation risks really aren’t worth it.
There is no fool-proof way to board a pet over the holidays when you can’t bring them on a road trip. Pet owners are going to feel some degree of guilt and the pet is going to feel some degree of fear. However, these tips can make it easier to find a facility that works for both of you.