With Spring Break just around the corner, I thought it might be helpful to discuss tips for choosing a Boarding Facility or a Pet Sitter. When faced with finding care for a pet that must be left alone for a lengthy period of time, there are many aspects to consider. The following information may help you as you contemplate your options.
If you prefer to use a Boarding facility:
Here are11 QUESTIONS TO ASK A POTENTIAL BOARDING KENNEL before you choose to drop your pet off:
#1 HOW FAR IN ADVANCE DO I NEED TO BOOK?
Many boarding kennels, especially during holidays, are booked weeks or months in advance. Make sure you know how far in advance you need to book a stay and whether a deposit is required when booking.
#2 WHAT VACCINATIONS DO YOU REQUIRE?
Most kennels require vaccinations, but the industry is still largely unregulated so it’s best to ask. Below are the minimum vaccinations that a kennel should require.
- Canine Distemper
- Infectious Hepatitis
- Canine Parvovirus
- Feline Panleukopenia
- Feline Herpesvirus
- Feline Calicivirus
If the kennel does not require vaccinations, ask them how they quarantine animals to prevent infection. Disease can be spread by contact with bodily fluids and even air. And even if your pet is vaccinated, there is always the chance it might be susceptible to disease.
#3 HOW ARE THE ANIMALS HOUSED?
- Cats and dogs should never be kept within view or hearing distance of each other. Most kennels put up barriers inside the kennel space to prevent this.
- The area should be well ventilated.
- Make sure there’s enough room for your pet to move around and enough space for them to defecate or urinate if they need to. Cats should have a litter box in their space.
#4 HOW OFTEN ARE DOGS TAKEN OUT?
Dogs should be let out a minimum of 2-3 times a day or 24 hour period.. Ask them the times they take the dogs out and for how long. If your dog is in the habit of defecating each morning, they may take longer. Ask if they’re taken out on a leash or released into an outside pen. If they’re released into an outside pen, does the employee stay with the animal or go back inside for a designated period? How big is the exercise area?
#5 DO STAFF MEMBERS PLAY WITH OR PET THE ANIMAL?
Ask specifically if there are designated times for staff to interact with your pet, how long staff members stay with them, and how they interact.
#6 CAN THEY ACCOMMODATE PETS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS?
If you have an elderly pet or one with special needs, this information is critical. If they say they can, ask them how they will accommodate your animal.
#7 WILL THEY FEED YOUR PET ITS REGULAR FOOD?
Veterinarians advise against changing your pet’s food, because it’s likely to result in digestive upset. So it is important to bring with your enough food from for your pet to dine one while you are away.
#8 DO THEY PROVIDE ADDITIONAL SERVICES?
Many boarding kennels, whether or not they’re part of a veterinary practice, offer additional services for a fee, such as brushing, washing, training, nail trimming (for dogs) or extra play time. Veterinary boarding kennels frequently offer vaccinations and other minor procedures, too. Some kennels offer playgroups your pet may enjoy.
#9 CAN I TAKE A TOUR?
If they are not willing to give you a tour when you show up unannounced, leave immediately.
#10 DOES THE KENNEL HAVE AN EMERGENCY PLAN?
Even if you don’t live in a flood-, hurricane- or tornado-prone area, fire is always an issue.
#11 ARE STAFF MEMBERS TRAINED?
If you are not using veterinary boarding, make sure the staff has received training and certification.
WARNING SIGNS OF A BAD BOARDING EXPERIENCE
Here are some warning signs that the kennel may not be a good fit for your pet.
- The building smells bad.
- Outdoor pens are small and do not have shelter from the sun.
- Your pet smells bad when you pick it up.
- The employees tell you nothing about your pet when you pick it up.
Benefits of Hiring a Pet Sitter
When pet sitters enter a home their tasks often include filling up water bowls and scooping out the litter boxes. However, most pet sitters are not just hired for their time, but also for the attention they can provide to a pet. Additional care may be offered through services such as the following:
- Walking energetic animals
- Engaging pets in their favorite play activities
- Providing bathroom walk breaks
- Following feeding schedules
- Administering health needs.
The use of a pet sitter also provides benefits that go beyond the assigned tasks. For example, a pet benefits through:
- Remaining at home, in a comfortable familiar environment
- Maintaining routine for diet, walking, exercise, and play
- Eliminating the stress that can be caused by traveling or by being boarded in a kennel
- Reduced boredom levels.
Additionally, establishing a pet sitter relationship may help owners to feel better about being away from home since they know their pet is being cared for, happy, and safe.
Where to find a Qualified and Trustworthy Pet Sitter:
Starting the search for a pet sitter should begin by asking for recommendations from:
- Dog Trainers.
Begin your search for a pet sitter by gathering information on their qualifications and on the services they provide.
Questions to Ask Prospective Pet Sitters:
- What services do they offer? For example grooming, walking, training, exercising, playing, cleaning up after a pet, taking a pet to appointments, taking a pet to the veterinarian if it gets sick, live-in services?
- Will they provide a written contract that explicitly identifies responsibilities, services, and fees charged?
- Do they carry commercial liability insurance that covers accidents and negligence? Can they provide written proof? Are they bonded? Can they provide proof?
- What training do they have for this position? For example CPR, First Aid?
- What is the backup plan established for continuing the care of your pet in case the sitter becomes ill, has car trouble, or has other difficulties that keep them from their responsibilities? How do you interview this person? What are their qualifications?
- Can they provide a list of references along with the contact information that includes client names and phone numbers?
Set Up A Meet and Greet
Once the information is gathered and references have been contacted, before making a final hiring decision it is important that you invite the pet sitter over to your home not only to talk with them in person but to have them meet the pet. During this stage of the interview additional important information can be gathered, for example:
- Watch the way they interact with your pet, do they seem at ease and focused on the pet? Does their behavior make the pet feel comfortable? Does the pet welcome their attention and touch?
- If a pet has special needs, do they ask appropriate questions about their responsibilities for its care?
- Do you feel comfortable with the sitter’s behavior in their home?
When the decision to hire is made, If you can plan to schedule services that cover an extended period of time, it is recommended to first arrange for the pet sitter to provide care for a trial period over a couple of days while you are still in town. This will allow for a chance to identify any issues that must be addressed before the pet is left in the sitter’s care for a longer period, such as:
- Questions requiring further clarification
- Changes that need to be made in reference to scheduling
- Responsibilities that should be added to meet additional pet needs.
I recommend both Kennel Boarding and Pet Sitters as safe ways to love and care for your pet while you are on vacation or traveling. Taking the time to choose the right boarding facility or Pet Sitter is very important and will pay off in the long run. It is never pleasant to return home from your travels to find your pet in less than good condition and worrying about your pet while you are on holiday steals important moments of relaxing and enjoying your time.
To Your Pet’s Good Health,