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November 13, 2017

Boarding General

Boarding your pet – 5 tips to make the process easier for you and your pet

by Aili V. Heintz, DVM

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A sandy beach with palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. The waves crashing on the shore while you take in the beauty all around you.  Sitting in a beach chair with your toes nestled in the warm sand. No schedules, no worries, and no responsibilities. Doesn’t a vacation like that sound wonderful?

Of course, before your worry-free vacation starts, there are a lot of things to do to get ready! You have to pack your bags, buy extra sunscreen, and most importantly… find a place or person to care for your pet while you are gone.dog in hammock

For many pet owners, the hardest things about going away leaving a beloved pet. However, a boarding stay can be a mini-vacation for your pet too! Below are some tips to help you and your pet get ready for a boarding stay.

Check it out

Go to the boarding facility and check it out before you make your pet’s reservation. By touring the facility, you can make sure that you are comfortable with the staff and the accommodations. Ask the animal caretakers any questions you may have. If your pets are on any specific medications or supplements, make sure the staff are comfortable and able to give these medicines. The more familiar you are with the boarding facility, the less stress you will feel leaving your fur baby at a home-away-from-home.

Do a trial run

Schedule a short boarding stay for your pet, like an overnight or a weekend. Give your pet a chance to try it before you actually go out of town. This short visit will help your pet become comfortable with boarding. Additionally, this trial run may help to make you more comfortable, too.  You will get more familiar with the people who will help to make your pet’s stay a happy one!

Pack your pet’s favorite things

I don’t know about you, but when I go on vacation, there are a few things that I never want to leave home without. Your pet is the same way, too! If he has a favorite toy or blanket, pack that for his “vacation” stay. If she cuddles with a special pillow at night, bring that along. Familiar things can be extremely comforting for a pet that is away from home.

Be sure to ask the boarding staff if there are restrictions on what they do and don’t allow in the kennels.  Some items may be choking hazards if left in the kennel unattended.

Plan for the unexpected

We never want to think about our pets becoming sick or injured, especially while we are away from them. But even with the best care, things can happen that are sometimes out of our control. This could be anything from diarrhea or a broken nail to something more serious.

Make sure that your boarding facility has a list of emergency contacts that can make decisions for your pet’s care if you cannot be reached. Also, make sure that they have the name and phone number of your veterinarian in case your pet needs medical treatment.  Better yet…if your veterinary clinic offers boarding services, use them! That way, if anything does happen or your pet gets sick, they can treat your pet right away.

Consider in-home care

If you are concerned about leaving your pet at a boarding facility, look into an in-home pet sitter option. An in-home pet sitter may stay at your home and watch your pets while you are away. Or, the sitter may just come over at predetermined times to feed and care for your pet. Please make sure that you feel comfortable with these people coming into your home.  It is a good idea to check references. The last thing that you want to worry about while you’re on vacation is your pet AND your home!

Vacations are good for you and good for your pet, too! They give you both time to rest and enjoy something different for a few days. Being prepared and finding the right boarding facility for your pet can greatly reduce your stress and can ensure that your pet has an amazing vacation as well!

Dr. Heintz and her dog, Mimi

Dr. Heintz is a small and exotic animal veterinarian at Countrycare Animal Complex in Green Bay, WI. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign. Her passion is helping all animals, whether furry, scaly, or feathered, lead long and healthy lives.
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