With the holiday season upon us, you may be making travel plans to visit friends and family over the next several weeks. This may mean leaving your furry family members behind for an extended length of time if you are unable to take them along. It's always nice to have a trusted friend or neighbor to watch your pet, but you may be faced with boarding your pet while you're gone. This can be a difficult decision for pet parents to make. Luckily, there are a few steps that you can take to make the experience as seamless as possible.
It's possible that your trusted network has been in this same situation before. Ask your Veterinarian, Dog trainer, Local Shelter, or Family & Friends to find out what your trusted circle has to say about past experiences boarding their pets. Perhaps they know of a particular kennel or boarding facility they would recommend. Vets and trainers may also know the most reliable and reputable options in your area.
If you've decided to start checking out some boarding facilities for your pet, keep an eye out for the following items.
- Facility appearance and clean scent
- Sufficient light and ventilation
- Staff members seem knowledgeable and caring
- Pets are required to be up-to-date on shots (this protects your dog as well as others)
- Each dog has their own sufficiently-sized space and opportunities to exercise
- Beds and resting areas are provided and not located directly on concrete floor
- Cats are housed separately from dogs with sufficient space to move and play
Additionally, be sure to confirm that you are able to provide your pet's usual brand of food, since abruptly switching pets to different food can cause digestive illness and distress.
Ask how often and when pets are fed, groomed, and exercised, and confirm whether veterinary care is available in the event that your pet becomes sick.
If you have enough time before your vacation to test different facilities, you may try dropping off your pet for a 1–2 night stay prior to leaving for your trip. This can give your pet an opportunity to become acquainted to the space. It can also give you an opportunity to ensure you feel safe leaving your pet here.
When it's time to take your pet to the kennel, be sure to have medications, foods, and contact information ready. Consider adding your veterinarian, and a trusted friend to your contact information.
Remind staff about any behavioral issues or personality traits that may cause your pet stress (history of epilepsy or fear of thunder) so they can be on the lookout for signs of distress. It never hurts to give the staff a few pointers about your pet as well, such as things they like, or how to calm their nerves.
At the end of the day, boarding a pet in a strange environment can be a difficult decision. While kennels are often well-trained and staffed, there are often many pets there at one time, and accidents can happen. Having an active pet insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance1 can help ensure your pet is covered during their stay.