Dogs and cats have become a natural part of the American family. Across the nation, 56% of households are home to at least one dog or cat, according to the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook. Every year, 30-million pet owners trust a pet boarding facility to keep their animal safe while they’re away. But how do you know if you’re picking the right home-away-from-home for your dog or cat? We’ve compiled a checklist to help you and your pet feel comfortable.
Start with Your Veterinarian
Believe it or not, dog owners spend twice as much as horse owners on veterinary care. If you have a dog (or a cat), there’s a good chance you have a preferred vet. Some vets will board your dog or cat for a short period of time, especially if your pet has specific medical conditions. If your vet does not keep animals overnight, you’ll need to find a boarding facility.
Locating an Inn for Your Pet
There are just over 9,000 animal boarding facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Sure, these are businesses that need to make a profit to stay afloat, but they should also be safe places for your pet, staffed by caring people who love animals.
The best place to start your search is to ask people you know and trust. Chances are your co-workers, friends, or family has a favorite facility. Then, do your own research and find one or two online. You want to start with upwards of five facility options.
Next, start making phone calls. Ask about the facility’s capacity and the times of year when they reach it. If your pet has special needs, be forthcoming. Some places cannot handle puppies, giant breeds, or animals that require vaccinations. If you find a place that you like, make an appointment to visit without your pet.
When evaluating any overnight pet pavilion, there are a few things to notice before making your decision. Please note: while you might not get beyond the front entrance due to understandable policies that protect pets, most facilities have ways to show you the boarding area.
- Accreditation. Look for awards or certification from groups such as the Pet Care Services Association (PCSA). These awards should be proudly displayed on the wall.
- Appearance. Does the facility look and smell clean? Is it sanitary (free of urine and feces)? Do they take steps to control fleas and ticks? Additionally, notice the appearance of the people working at the facility. You can tell a lot about a pet bed and breakfast by the people who work there.
- Immunizations. Most facilities require that cats be vaccinated against rabies, panleukopenia (distemper), feline rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, and pneumonitis (FVRCPP). Dog owners should have their pets immunized against distemper, rabies, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus (DHLPP), parainfluenza, and Bordetella. If you’re not sure if your pet is fully vaccinated, call your veterinarian for a list of your pet’s current immunizations.
- Security. Are there preventative measures to keep dogs and cats in their enclosures? Are outdoor areas properly fenced?
- Safety. Play areas should be free of sharp objects, and the facility should have several, visible fire extinguishers.
- Water and Food. Does each pet have their own water container? When does the facility feed both dogs and cats? Do they provide food? Or do they prefer that you bring your pet’s favorite yummies?
- Supervision. Ask about all-day and overnight staffing. Facility employees should be trained to look for signs of distress and illness. They should also know when to call a vet if an animal is in trouble.
- Vet Care. Will the facility call your veterinarian in case of an emergency or do they have their own on-call professional?
- Medications. Does your pet require daily medication? Make sure the facility can handle your pet’s needs before boarding them there.
- Comfort. Are the sleeping quarters and daytime areas temperature controlled? Is there enough ventilation, light, and bedding for each pet? Also, is there an outdoor play area that is protected from the elements?
- Exercise. Dogs and cats are very different when it comes to exercise. Cats exercise isometrically, meaning they simply need to stretch. Dogs, on the other hand, need areas big enough to run and play.
- Extras. Does the facility offer spa-like options for your pet? Will they take them on special nature walks? Do they offer one-on-one snuggle time for an extra fee?
- Hours. When does the facility open and close every day? What happens if you’re late picking up your pet?
Above all, choose a facility that you trust. You’ll feel more comfortable if you know your four-legged family member is being well cared for and loved while you’re away.
Pets Love Coastal Farm & Ranch
Bring your pet with you and check out the aisles of toys, treats, bowls, beds, coats, crates, training tools, food, enclosures, and more at your nearby Coastal Farm & Ranch. If you’re a dog owner, stock up on Merrick Backcountry Hero’s Banquet. Each bag is 100% grain free, high in protein, and helps your dog maintain healthy hips and joints as well as skin and coat. Plus, a portion of every purchase of Merrick Backcountry Hero’s Banquet goes to help K9s for Warriors.
Looking for a veterinarian? Check out the mobile Good Neighbor Vet for affordable help with pet micro-chipping, diagnostic testing, vaccinations, parasite treatments, and other services. Click here for more.