How to Pick a Boarding Facility

Dog Looking Through Fence

Entrusting your beloved pet to a boarding kennel for any length of time can be a stressful decision -- especially if your pet is easily frightened by other animals, strangers, or unfamiliar places.

Deciding what’s right for your pet will have a lot to do with the situation and your pet’s personality. For trips longer than a day or two, checking your pet into a trusted boarding facility is often a better choice than relying on friends or neighbors to provide the kind of care that your pet needs.

However, if your pet is easily stressed, hiring a professional pet sitter may be the better option. 

A good boarding facility has professional and experienced caretakers who will give your pet plenty of care and attention -- including medical support. Boarding your pet is a good option if:

  • Your pet has health issues and needs medication or monitoring
  • Your pet becomes panicked when left alone
  • You are considering taking your pet with you: It’s nice to have your loved one by your side even when traveling long distances, but flying with your pet causes a significant amount of unnecessary stress, and in some cases, even trauma. For some pets, driving can also cause a great deal of stress and anxiety.

So how does one find a trustworthy boarding facility?

Hairless CatThanks to an abundance of online review sources nowadays, you can easily read about other people’s kennel experiences around your town or city. The higher number of great reviews the better, but always be sure to visit the facility that you are considering beforehand to talk to the staff and take a tour.

When touring the facility, be sure to check for these non-negotiables: 

  • Is the facility clean and well lit with a comfortable temperature?
  • Do the animals have enough room to move around comfortably as well as a soft place to sleep?
  • Is the staff friendly and caring? Are they knowledgeable and attentive to your concerns?
  • Will the boarder feed your pet the food that you provide?
  • What types of interaction will your pet receive throughout the day?
  • For cat owners: Are cats housed away from dogs? Is the litterbox kept away from food and water bowls?
  • For dog owners: Do dogs have an exercise space or run that is protected from inclement weather? Is there a scheduled daily play or exercise time?
  • Do they require that pets be vaccinated? Any reputable boarding facility will require that pets be current on their vaccinations, particularly Bordetella (kennel cough) for dogs.
  • How do they handle medical emergencies?

Prepare your pet

Make sure your pet is fully vaccinated! This is required by boarders for the safety of all of their guests, including your pet.

Sleepy ChihuahuaDo what you can to relieve your dog’s stress by bringing it by the facility ahead of time to see the space and meet the staff. If you’re planning to take an extended trip, it’s important to gradually ease your pet into the boarding situation. Plan ahead and start small -- board your pet for a day, overnight, or for a short weekend trip first. 

Plan ahead

Good boarding facilities have requirements that must be met ahead of time (and for good reason!) -- don’t get stuck without a good option for your beloved pet when it’s time to leave on your trip.

We’ve put together a boarding preparation checklist to help you plan ahead and get everything taken care of in plenty of time.

Click here to download the pre-boarding checklist as well as our recommended boarding facilities.

We hope this has been helpful! If you have any questions that haven’t been addressed here, please give our animal care specialists a call.