If you need to board your pet while you’re away, you may not know what qualities to look for in a pet boarding facility.
When choosing the best place for your dog or cat, it’s important to consider the following 10 characteristics that can make all the difference in whether your pet has an enjoyable stay or one that leaves him feeling anxious and stressed out.
1) Has there been a change of management?
Pets need consistency, especially when boarding. Has there been a change of management? If so, it’s important to make sure that everyone at your pet’s boarding facility is on board with what you want for your pet.
When there has been a change of management or ownership, talk with previous clients who used that facility and see if they would recommend them again. Does it have high-quality facilities? The quality of care provided by any boarding facility will be directly related to its facilities.
So how does one evaluate these facilities? To start, look at their website and/or Facebook page for photos of their facilities; however, don’t rely solely on photos as not all facilities are as good as they claim to be online.
Instead, ask around! Ask friends and family members who use boarding services about their experiences.
What type of staff do they have?
One big difference between kennels and other types of pet care facilities is whether or not they employ people to take care of pets 24 hours a day.
This can affect everything from cost to quality of service, so make sure you know what type of staff your potential boarding facility employs before making a decision.
What services do they offer? Some facilities offer more than others.
2) What is their staff turnover rate?
Finding an experienced and knowledgeable staff is one of the most important elements when choosing a pet boarding facility. Many facilities have high employee turnover, which means your animal will have many caregivers over his or her stay.
This makes it even more important that you choose an experienced facility with low staff turnover. The best way to do so is by asking how long each member of their staff has been working there.
If they’ve been there less than a year, ask if they plan on staying long-term before making your final decision. How often are employees trained?: Another aspect of quality care is consistent training.
Be sure to find out how often employees are trained, as well as what types of training they receive. A good rule of thumb is that they should be trained at least every six months.
3) Can I visit my pet on-site?
Some facilities allow you to visit your pet while they’re boarding, while others don’t. If you want to be able to check up on your pet and make sure they’re happy and well-treated, it may be worth considering boarding centers that offer on-site visits.
On-site visits are particularly important if you have a very social or anxious pet who needs frequent attention from its owner. You can also use an on-site visit as an opportunity to get to know your dog walker or cat sitter better—this can help ensure that your animal is being taken care of by someone with whom they are comfortable and familiar.
Of course, there are some risks associated with on-site visits; pets might pick up illnesses or parasites during these visits (particularly if they haven’t been dewormed recently), so make sure to think through any potential risks before allowing your pet to interact with other animals at a boarding facility.
And remember: most facilities will ask you not to bring any treats into their facility when visiting your pet.
4) Is the facility clean?
The first thing you should look at when choosing a pet boarding facility is whether or not it’s clean. If there are animal paw prints on many of your surfaces and cages, that might be an indication that your pets aren’t as safe as they could be.
The second thing you should look at is if there’s any evidence of pests such as rodents or insects. A clean facility is usually indicative of a well-run one, so make sure that your choice has been cleaned recently and thoroughly!
5) Do they have regular maintenance programs?
You should be able to see that regular maintenance programs are in place. A lot of times, employees come and clean out litter boxes, empty food, and water bowls, sweep up hair from grooming, etc.
This is all part of having routine maintenance at a facility so that it’s sanitary. If there is no maintenance being done on a regular basis, then your pet may be subjected to illness and parasites due to unsanitary conditions.
That could mean spending extra money on medicine or treatments when you get your pet back home. As an owner, you don’t want to have to worry about illnesses affecting your pets while they are away from home.
Make sure any boarding facility you look into has some sort of maintenance program in place!
6) Do they have activity programs?
If your pet gets anxious when you’re away, look for a facility that offers daily activities and exercise. Fulfilling their physical and mental needs will make them less likely to have accidents or engage in destructive behavior.
Even if your pet is friendly enough to other animals, it’s good practice to check whether there are different areas where dogs and cats can play together. If you plan on boarding your pet often, it may be worth it to pay extra for an individualized program.
This way, they’ll get used to regular routines and feel more comfortable in their surroundings.
7) Do they provide dietary options?
A good boarding facility will provide dietary options specific to your pet’s needs. The last thing you want is for your dog or cat to be fed some standard, generic kibble or canned food. Good boarding facilities will ask about your pet’s allergies, lifestyle, and preferences when it comes to food so they can prepare meals tailored especially for them.
In addition, they’ll offer a choice of wet versus dry foods—some pets may do better with one over another. If your pet has special dietary requirements, make sure their boarding facility offers at least one option that fits their needs.
Do they have an emergency plan? Accidents happen, but if your pet’s boarding facility doesn’t have an emergency plan in place for dealing with situations like these, it could be very stressful for both you and your pet.
Make sure that staff members are trained on how to administer first aid if necessary, and are aware of any medical conditions your pet might have.
8) Is it easy to get an appointment time when I need it?
Finding time to board your pet is difficult. It’s important that when you do have an appointment available, you can get it scheduled quickly and easily so your furry friend doesn’t have to wait around in his kennel all day.
A good boarding facility will be able to schedule your pet right away, rather than delaying if another customer has already booked their appointment time slot. Is there a veterinarian on staff? This might seem like an obvious one, but some facilities don’t employ veterinarians or veterinary technicians on site.
If there isn’t someone available who knows how to handle common pet emergencies—such as diarrhea or vomiting—it could be dangerous for your dog or cat. Make sure there are people trained to care for animals at all times.
Are they open 24 hours? What about holidays? You never know when you’ll need emergency care for your pet, which is why it’s important that they can get it at any hour of any day.
Make sure you check whether or not they are open 24/7 and what days of the week they are closed before booking with them.
9) Do they have high-quality groomers on staff?
Grooming is an important part of owning a pet. Since your dog or cat is going to be spending time away from home, you want it to look its best when it comes back. Pets should always be bathed before being brought into a boarding facility, but it’s still nice if they have professional groomers on staff—especially if your pet has special needs or grooming requirements.
If your pet isn’t up to date with vaccinations, there may also be a need for extra care during their stay at a boarding facility. If there are no professional groomers on staff, ask about how often pets are bathed and whether or not any additional services (such as nail trimming) are available.
10) Does the facility have 24/7 emergency services and will they notify me if there is an emergency with my pet?
Good boarding facilities have emergency services available 24/7. If they don’t offer emergency service, you might want to reconsider using them. In any case, they should tell you if there is an emergency and who will notify you.
Do they have experience working with my pet’s breed?: While all pets require different levels of care, some breeds are more prone to certain issues than others. Make sure that your boarding facility has plenty of experience working with your pet’s breed before entrusting them with your furry friend.
Can I take a tour of their facility?
Take advantage of any opportunity to see where your dog or cat will be staying while you are away. Ask questions about how often pets get walked, fed, and cleaned up after. You should also ask about their grooming services.
Are they trained in first aid?
Most people assume that any professional pet-boarding facility would know basic first aid, but it never hurts to check. You can ask specifically what types of emergencies they are prepared for and whether or not they have additional training beyond what is required by law.
What safety precautions do they take when transporting pets from one location to another?
Some boarding facilities may use public transportation (like buses) to transport pets from one location to another.