Need to go out of town? A boarding kennel can give
your pet quality care—and can give you peace of mind. Before loading Fido or
Fluffy into the car and driving over to the nearest kennel, though, it's
important to find the right kennel and prepare your pet for boarding.
What are the pros and cons of using a boarding kennel?
Your pet depends on you to take good care of
her—even when you have to be out of town. Friends and neighbors may not have
the experience or time to properly look after your pet, particularly for
longer trips. So next time you have to leave your pet behind for a while,
leave pet care to the professionals, such as a pet sitter or boarding
A facility specializing in care and overnight
boarding allows your pet to:
avoid the stress of a long car or airplane ride to your
stay where he's welcome (unlike many hotels).
receive more attention and supervision than he would if
home alone most of the day.
be monitored by staff trained to spot health problems.
be secure in a kennel designed to foil canine and
feline escape artists.
Potential drawbacks to using a boarding kennel
the stress related to staying in an unfamiliar
the proximity to other pets, who may expose your pet to
the difficulty of finding a kennel that accepts pets
other than dogs and cats.
the inconvenience of the drive over, which can be
especially hard on a pet easily stressed by car travel.
How do I find a good kennel?
Ask a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, animal
shelter, or dog trainer for a recommendation. You can also check the Yellow
Pages under "Kennels & Pet Boarding." Once you have names—even ones you got
from reliable sources—it's important to do a little background check.
First, find out whether your state requires
boarding kennel inspections. If it does, make sure the kennel you are
considering displays a license or certificate showing that the kennel meets
Also ask whether the prospective kennel belongs to
the American Boarding Kennels Association (719-667-1600), a trade
association founded by kennel operators to promote professional standards of
pet care. Besides requiring members to subscribe to a code of ethics, ABKA
offers voluntary facility accreditation that indicates the facility has been
inspected and meets ABKA standards of professionalism, safety, and quality
Check, too, with your Better Business Bureau to
see whether any complaints have been lodged against a kennel you are
After selecting a few kennels, confirm that they
can accommodate your pet for specific dates and can address your pet's
special needs (if any). If you're satisfied, schedule a visit.
What should I look for?
On your visit, ask to see all the places your pet
may be taken. Pay particular attention to the following:
Does the facility look and smell clean?
Is there sufficient ventilation and light?
Is a comfortable temperature maintained?
Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring?
Are pets required to be current on their vaccinations,
including the vaccine for canine kennel cough (Bordetella)? (Such a
requirement helps protect your animal and others.)
Does each dog have his own adequately sized
indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise?
Are outdoor runs and exercise areas protected from
wind, rain, and snow?
Are resting boards and bedding provided to allow dogs
to rest off the concrete floor?
Are cats housed away from dogs?
Is there enough space for cats to move around
Is there enough space between the litter box and food
How often are pets fed?
Can the owner bring a pet's special food?
What veterinary services are available?
Are other services available such as grooming,
How are rates calculated?
How do I prepare my pet?
Be sure your pet knows basic commands and is well
socialized around other people and pets; if your pet has an aggression
problem or is otherwise unruly, she may not be a good candidate for
boarding. Before taking your animal to the kennel, make sure she is current
It's also a good idea to accustom your pet to
longer kennel stays by first boarding her during a short trip, such as a
weekend excursion. This allows you to work out any problems before boarding
your pet for an extended period.
Before you head for the kennel, double-check that
you have your pet's medications and special food (if any), your
veterinarian's phone number, and contact information for you and a local
When you arrive with your pet at the boarding
facility, remind the staff about any medical or behavior problems your pet
has, such as a history of epilepsy or fear of thunder. After the check-in
process, hand your pet to a staff member, say good-bye, and leave. Avoid
long, emotional partings, which may upset your pet. Finally, have a good
trip, knowing that your pet is in good hands and will be happy to see you
when you return.