Boarding Your Pet While You Are Away

Tips for A Pleasant Boarding Experience

Every once in a while a situation will arise (usually during school or religious holidays) where there’s a need to travel, and taking the pet with you might not be the best thing to do. The hotel or other accommodation you’re staying in may not be pet-friendly. What if you have to fly? Johnny Depp got into trouble recently for trying to take his pooch on a work trip. And he’s Jack Sparrow.

Sad, dreadful and morbid as it may be, if you or a loved one is sick, and you are faced with the responsibility of being a caregiver, boarding your pet while you tend to your (human) needs might be the best decision for everyone involved (including the pet). Hospitals certainly do not allow pets.

Some pet owners are fortunate enough to have relatives or friends who are willing to care for their pets and can shelter them temporarily while the owner is away. But then there is always the risk of escape, illness or some other unfortunate tragedy happening to your pet.

Fortunately, commercial pet boarding services are available for your convenience.

What Is Pet Boarding?


Business or individuals that provide boarding, housing, accommodation, or kennel services for pets are generally referred to as pet boarders. Some businesses prefer the term “pet hotel”. Essentially what a pet boarder (or pet hotel) does is care for your pet when you can’t. While some businesses focus primarily on pet boarding, sometimes pet shops and veterinarians provide boarding services, too.

A Pleasant Boarding Experience

Here are a few tips and general guidelines on selecting a suitable pet boarder. Our goals in providing this information are healthy, happy pets and satisfied pet owners. We hope you and your animal companion find this information useful and put it to good use.

Asking Around

Call up as many pet boarders that interest you as possible. Always ask ahead to find out if they may accommodate your pet. Some boarders are very specific, and may be a dogs-only or cats-only facility. Some boarders may not accept very young pets. While you’re on the phone, it’s a good idea to ask for an appointment to visit.

Taking A Personal Tour

Before committing your pet, it’s a great idea to visit the pet boarder yourself. It will give you a feel of the surroundings, and you will be able to chat further with boarders and maybe even other customers.

For a pleasant boarding experience, it is best to gather as much information about the following:

Safety & Security

Pets have a tendency to “find” their humans during periods of separation, and it is for this reason that we often hear stories of pets that “escaped” while in the care of others. A secure boarding facility will have taken necessary precautions to ensure your pet’s escape attempts will be met with failure. If your pet is a jumper or a climber, look for a facility which is indoors and has a covered enclosure. If your pet is a burrower or a digger, cement or concrete flooring in potential escape routes is essential.  If your pet was previously owned by ninjas or is a renown escape artist, be sure to let your pet boarder know so that they may take extra precautions.

Sleeping areas should be free of harmful objects and have a solid divider between adjacent areas. This is so your pet will be more secure in their sleeping area and won’t feel threatened or disturbed by the habits of their would-be pet neighbors. Exercise and play areas should also have good separation, especially in dog boarding kennels, as dogs have a tendency to pee into adjacent areas.

The pet boarder should also be a person well-trained to recognize signs of stress or distress in pets, and be able to act accordingly to remedy a situation should a need rise. Always ask if your pet boarder will be able to provide veterinary services (either in-house or on-call) in case your pet has a medical emergency. If you’re a very concerned pet-parent, ask if your boarder is able to provide scheduled picture updates on your pet.

Health & Hygiene

A good pet boarding facility should be free of dirt and other harmful contaminants, such as fleas, ticks, parasites, etc. Though it might be difficult to test for these visually, a boarder that doesn’t clean out the litter box or lets feces accumulate in the pet’s living spaces is always a bad sign.

Water dispensers should be clean and free of mold. Ideally, each pet should have their own individual water dispenser.

Food and feeding procedures will vary between pet boarders. Some allow you to bring your own food, some will ask you to bring your own food, some will feed your pet whatever they have available. If your pet has certain dietary restrictions or needs, it is always best to talk to your pet boarder about it.

Immunization might be required by some pet boarders. Others might not. If you own pedigrees or if you are very concerned about your pet’s health, look for boarders that require immunization. Your boarder should be able to provide you with a list of immunizations your pet will need before they are ready to take your pet in. Keep your receipts and medical records!

Veterinary services should be able to be provided by a licensed veterinarian that works with the pet boarder, either full-time (in-house) or through a partnership. Some veterinarians provide boarding services themselves. Always be prepared to bear the cost of veterinary services, unless otherwise agreed to by your pet boarder.

If your pet is under medication or needs medical supervision, ask if your pet boarder is willing to cater to your pet’s needs, and discuss your pet’s treatment regiment with your boarder. Be as detailed as possible. Always be prepared to provide your own medication to your pet boarder when dropping off your pet. Care for animals requiring extensive medical care should always be discussed with your pet boarder.


Your Pet

Cats should preferably be kept in areas that have no contact with dogs, and vice-versa. Cats are extremely sensitive to dog-barking, and it stresses them to no end. A good cat sleeping area should be sound-proofed from dog barks, at the very least. This also very well applies to dogs. Dogs are extremely attuned to a cat’s smell, and detecting even feint cat odor particles might set off hyper-active or aggressive dogs.

Living and sleeping spaces should be bright enough during the day for good visibility. If your pet requires a night-light, inform your pet boarder. Pet cats and dogs both seem to enjoy sleeping most of the time, so it is important that the space for your pet is big enough for your pet to stand up, turn around in, and do a decent stretch.

If the temperate in your pet’s living spaces is too hot for you, it is likely too hot for your pet as well. Though cats usually prefer warmer temperatures, an indoor kitty is used to living under a roof with four walls, which is usually cooler than the great outdoors.

Some boarders may ask you to bring your own bedding for your pet. Most pet boarders will provide a rudimentary bedding platform for your pet to sleep on. Always discuss with your pet boarder if you wish to bring your own bedding to complement the bedding already provided.

Dogs, especially larger, more athletic breeds, need exercise. A good boarding kennel should have adequate room for your dog to break into a light sprint. If a scheduled walk or exercise routine is necessary for your dog, be sure to inform your boarder. If your pooch is a sprinter, has problems with a leash, or has other behavioral problems do discuss these issues with your boarder beforehand to avoid any unfortunate incidents.

Cats require less exercise than dogs, however it is advisable if your cat’s favorite toy can be brought along. Some cat-boarders love to spend time playing with their short-term pets, while other may be less free to do so. If your cat is a tree-dweller try finding an enclosure with a cat tree or scratching pole.

Rules and Regulations

As a customer, you are entitled to be treated in a friendly, business-like manner. Don’t abuse it. Always observe the following:

Rates for services engaged and other additional charges that may be incurred. Some pet boarders may charge more during peak seasons simply because they have to pay double wages to their employees on gazetted public holidays.

Business hours should always be noted and observed. If you’re running late for an appointment to drop off or pick up your pet, it would be a good idea to call ahead.

Boarding agreements or contracts should clearly state your responsibilities as a pet owner, and their responsibilities towards you and your pet, to avoid any misunderstanding from occurring.

Preparing Your Pet

Book ahead! Good pet boarders usually already have a faithful clientele, and won’t accommodate late or last-minute requests, simply because they are fully-booked by the same people every year, during the same holidays. Try making arrangements at least a month before a nationwide extended holiday for best results. Always discuss special or extra requirements for your pet before finalizing your booking. Some boarders might require a deposit be paid in advance. If you’re on a visit to pet boarder and are pleased with their offered services, make an immediate booking. If you are pleased with your current boarder, try asking them about long-term or scheduled bookings.

Prepare your pet for boarding by sending them on short stays at first. Let them stay for a night and see how they react or respond to the situation. If your dog or cat comes back depressed or stressed out after one night, you probably might want to look for a different pet boarder. Dogs tend to like boarding sessions, and seem to think of it as a holiday camp with other dogs. If your dog is asocial, overly aggressive, or has behavioral problems it is best to stay a while and observe your dog while in boarding accommodation for a while to look for signs of distress when interacting with other dogs. Older cats seem to not care about the while boarding experience, though some overly-attached cats might be somewhat displeased at being separated from their human(s). Kittens seem to be more mindless about the whole boarding experience and it would seem to be a good growing up lesson to have them socialize with other domesticated cats in a non-hostile environment. Don’t overfeed your pets before sending them off for boarding.

Prepare yourself for separation from your pet. Some pet owners (and pets) welcome the separation. Always be mindful of overly-emotional farewell displays. Pets are very attuned and sensitive to human emotions, and seeing you crying while walking away and leaving them in an alien environment might cause them severe distress, and future trips to the pet boarder may potentially turn into a menacing chore.

Observe the rules and regulations of the pet boarder. Come on time. Call ahead. Be polite. If you have special requirements for your pets, put these instructions on paper and give a copy to the pet boarder.

Relax. If you’ve done your homework right, your pet is in good hands, and you can stop worrying and tend to whatever it is that necessitated the boarding arrangement in the first place.

Picking Up Your Pet

Always pick up your pet during business hours. If conditions are such that you need to make a pickup after business hours, call ahead and make arrangements with your pet boarder. Pickup up your pet after business hours may be met with an additional surcharge, or downright refusal.

Always ask how your pet behaved with other animals, or if they required special care in any situations. It is good information for you to have in case you need to switch boarders.

Don’t feed your dog food or water at least 4 hours after returning home. Dogs have a tendency to get overexcited when reunited with their humans, and they might start gulping down food or water, which may lead to immediate health problems. Make sure doge is well settled down before any treats, either.

Contact your pet boarder immediately if your pet begins displaying signs of distress or health-related issues. Most cats and dogs have had an exciting time at the boarders, and might spend the next one or two days sleeping at home. The calm and comfort of home usually does this.

Finding A Pet Boarder

Click the bar below for a list of pet boarders that we’ve gathered.

For other options, try asking friends or relatives who have experience with pet boarders for their recommendations.

Pet Boarding & Accommodation

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