Every dog owner knows that planning a vacation means more than booking a flight and hotel room. Equally important is booking the right boarding facility or dog-sitter to care for your pet while you are away. After all, we go on vacations to relax, and no one can relax when they’re busy worrying about their pet’s well-being back at home. Making arrangements for your dog shouldn’t be difficult, but it is something you should take care of well in advance to ensure your pet is getting the best care possible.
There are several options available to dog owners who are going out of town. The first and most popular choice is to bring your dog to a boarding facility or kennel. These sorts of facilities are fairly common, and more likely than not, there is one located in your area. However, location shouldn’t be your main priority when selecting a kennel for your dog. There is an extreme amount of variance between facilities, and it is important to do your research before you commit to any one place.
When choosing a kennel for your dog, you should ask to tour the facilities. Look for things like cleanliness, space, and safety—just the fact that they don’t mind you looking around is a good sign. You should also find out what the supervision will be like while your dog is staying there. A good facility will be staffed with experienced workers who can check regularly for any signs of illness or injury. Of course, in the case of some sort of illness, the kennel should have an emergency plan in place. Some will have a veterinarian on staff, while others will choose to contact your own veterinarian.
This brings up another boarding option for your dog: the vet clinic. If your dog is on a special diet, medication, or is simply older and prone to getting ill, staying at a veterinary clinic might not be a bad idea. Not all clinics are willing to board patients, so you might want to ask your veterinarian what their policy is next time you’re in. Often, dogs boarding at a vet clinic get less interaction and exercise time than those at a boarding facility, but they do get much more careful monitoring and careful attention is paid to their health.
With either of the above choices, you can help make your dog’s stay a little less lonely by packing some blankets and toys from home. Also, if you send in a bag of your dog’s regular food, you decrease the chance of your dog developing gastro-intestinal upsets that can sometimes occur due to stress. Most boarding facilities, will require that your dog be up to date on its vaccinations (including the vaccine against kennel cough), so you should make sure to get those taken care of prior to your departure date. Of course, you should always leave a phone number where you can be reached should any emergency arise.
If neither of these options works for you, because you just can’t stand the idea of your dog sleeping in a cage each night, you may want to consider hiring a professional pet-sitter. This way your dog can sleep in its own bed, go for walks around its own block, and eat out of its own food bowl. Also, you get the added bonus of having your home lived in while you are away, deterring potential burglars. This is a good idea for dogs that are sensitive to any disturbances to their regular routine, and those that might not like the busy environment of a dog kennel or vet clinic.
As with kennels, you have to do your research when choosing a pet-sitter. You have to be able to trust this person with your pet and with your home. It’s a good idea to ask friends, neighbours, or even your veterinarian if they have any recommendations. A professional pet-sitter should be bonded and have commercial liability insurance. They should also have at least some training in pet care and emergency aid. It is always best if they can provide references from other clients. Once you find someone you think might work out, you should invite them over to meet your dog and really talk to them about your expectations. To ensure that things go as smoothly as possible you should leave clear written instructions with your dog’s regular routine, and again, leave emergency contact information with the sitter.
No matter where your dog ends up staying, the most important thing is that you and your pet feel comfortable and confident with the situation and the people involved. There is no reason for your pet to be miserable while you are trying to enjoy some time off. Choosing the right pet-sitter or boarding facility can make your dog feel like he/she is the one staying at a five star resort.
By Alison Norwich – Pets.ca writer