As many Americans prepare to travel away from home for the holidays, it’s important to take the time to prepare your pup for a boarding stay. We offer this checklist to help you make that experience a positive one for you and your dog.
The Before-boarding Checklist
Take these precautions before you board your pup:
Update vaccinations – Make sure all vaccinations are current at least a week to 10 days before boarding your dog. Dogs occasionally show symptoms of canine cough or bordatella from the vaccine, and a boarding facility won’t be able to tell the difference between shot-related symptoms and the real illness, explains Boyer.
Check requirements - Call the boarding facility to inquire what its vaccination requirements are. Bring proof of the vaccinations with you when you arrive at the facility. Some places also require a clean fecal report as proof that your dog doesn’t have worms.
Visit your veterinarian – Even if a facility doesn’t require a veterinarian’s clearance, it’s a good idea to schedule a checkup for your dog within 30 days of its stay, especially if your dog has chronic ailments or is elderly.
Double-check medication supplies – Ensure medication supplies are adequate for the stay and bring the prescription in its original container. It’s extremely important that if for any reason your dog has a reaction, or another dog ingests the medication, the staff knows exactly what the prescription is as well as the dosage amount.
Keep up with flea prevention - Almost every facility will require you to treat your dog with a monthly flea preventive. Schedule a treatment just before your dog checks in to the kennel.
Questions to Ask
Steer clear of boarding facilities that don’t offer direct, fully explained answers to all your questions. Here’s what to know:
Can your dog eat its usual food? Dogs may have touchy digestive systems, says Dr. Martinez. Your dog will likely fare better if it can follow its usual diet, so when possible, carefully label its food before boarding.
What treats are given? A facility might serve your dog its usual food but offer unfamiliar treats. Often, treats contain more gluten and byproducts than commercial foods, and some dogs have trouble digesting the goodies.
How will the facility handle health issues? Ask if the kennel has a relationship with a veterinarian or if veterinary technicians are on staff.
Share the Right Information
Your dog is more likely to enjoy a safe, healthy stay if you also keep the boarding facility well informed. Let the kennel know the following:
Special needs – If your dog is prone to anxiety, aggression or other issues, let the kennel know well in advance. Booking early can ensure that your dog receives the right boarding space.
Your contact info - Share your emergency contact number, along with a local number for someone not traveling with you. Provide contact information for your pet’s veterinarian.
Any allergies - Provide a list of your dog’s potential allergens along with its other known health information.
If your dog hasn’t boarded in a while, it could be good to take Fido for a half day or so of doggie day care in the facility. Reintroducing your pup to the facility will ease stresses during the actual boarding stay. Following this checklist can mean the difference between a positive boarding experience and a bad one.