If you’re a pet owner, you’ve probably had to find accommodations for your dog or cat at one time or another when you went out of town on vacation or on business. Without a friend or family member to step in, you have to rely on a boarding facility to care for your furry friend in your absence. It’s a leap of faith to believe that strangers will provide the family dog with the level of care you provide at home, which is why it’s important to be diligent about who will care for your friend.
Appearances matter when looking for a pet boarding facility. Start by checking on their accreditation, which means they’ve earned a high level of cleanliness, service, and expertise in caring for animals. Look for certification by the Professional Animal Care Certification Council or the American Animal Hospital Association. Take a good look around to see if everything looks and smells clean and sanitary. Ask to view animal sleeping and play areas. Are they properly ventilated and well cared for? Make sure they’re diligent about checking for immunizations and find out exactly which ones to make sure you’re in compliance.
Most well-secured boarding facilities use surveillance cameras and TV screens to keep tabs on the animals in their care. This allows attendants to come to an animal’s aid in a timely manner if something were to go wrong. Outside play areas should be carefully fenced in with no gaps or space underneath through which a small animal could squeeze, with no sharp objects in the play area and heavy objects that are well-secured.
Feeding and Medicine
Each animal should have their own food and water dishes. Find out if the facility provides food or if you’ll need to provide your own. Ask acquaintances or check online for customer reviews to see if attendants are good about carrying out any special feeding instructions, as well as administering any prescriptions while your pet is in their care. If your pet requires constant and extensive care, consider another solution if the facility isn’t able to meet your needs.
Supervision is a very important part of the care you’ll be paying for, so be sure that the staff has all the animals in their care under regular supervision. They should have all-day and overnight staffing; if they don’t, keep looking for a facility that does. The unexpected can and does sometimes happen where animals are concerned, and close monitoring and supervision is a requirement. Staff should be fully apprised of your animal’s conditions and of any special needs, all of which should be spelled out and communicated to day and night staff members. They should be prepared to contact your veterinarian if there’s an emergency and to keep you apprised of your pet’s condition.
Exercise is as important as feeding and sleeping for your animal. Ask how often and how extensively your pet will be exercised during his stay. It’s important that your dog or cat gets as much exercise as he does when at home, based on his nature and tendencies. If you have an athletic dog who’s used to getting a two-mile walk every day, he should get the same level of exercise while you’re away.
Cats are largely independent and self-reliant animals. If you’ll only be away for a short time, your cat can be left alone, though it’s important to make sure the litter box is clean while you’re away. If not, your cat may relieve himself somewhere else. And don’t forget to protect the furniture and wooden tables from being scratched, and put away anything a young cat might be tempted to chew on or lick, such as an electrical cord or cleaning fluids.
The last thing you want is to worry about your pet when taking a few days off for vacation. Make sure your boarding facility meets your standards and is capable of carrying out your instructions.
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