Now Boarding

Holidaying soon? Have you booked your pet's accommodation yet?

With the holiday season only a hop away, those of you who are intending to board your pets in a kennel or cattery need to book now - but how do you prepare your pet and how do you pick a good boarding facility?

While many pet owners worry about how their pets will cope, in reality the majority of pets love the change in routine that boarding provides.

1. How do I pick a good kennel or cattery?

Be sure you inspect the boarding facility you intend using. The kennel or cattery owner should welcome this, although they may request you inspect at specific times that won't disrupt the resident pet's daily routines.

Look for a facility that is well-maintained, clean and odour free. The pens should be in good repair with no sharp protrusions of wire or other objects. Shade is essential.

The pen surfaces should be made of clean and unstained concrete that should be free of cracks that could harbour disease-carrying organisms. For hygiene reasons, the drainage or effluent from one pen should not flow to the next.. A separate grassed exercise area should be available.

2. Will my pet be alone?

Compatible dogs are sometimes housed together. The company of others and the ability to play together often gives the dogs a fun-filled holiday.

You should let the kennel owner know if your dog is not compatible with others and further, due to occupational health and safety issues, a kennel owner may refuse to board a dog that is aggressive.

3. How long before holidays do I need to book?

If you are intending to board your dog over Easter, or any other public holiday period, you should book several months in advance. You could well be disappointed if you leave it to the last moment.

When picking their pets up at the end of a holiday, many dog owners then book their pets for the next holiday period to be certain of a placement.

4. How can I prepare my pet?

One of the best ways of preparing your pet is to board it in the kennel for an occasional day or so in the weeks leading to your holiday. The kennel owner will tell you how your pet coped with the experience.

Up-to-date vaccinations are essential and as vaccines do not work immediately, plan the vaccination at least ten days before the intended boarding date. This is a good time to have the dog wormed and to attend to your other once-a-year pet care duties.

Give the dog a flea bath a day or two before hand, although most kennels owners will still bath your dog on entry as a hygiene precaution.

You should give the kennel owner any medications your pet needs, such as it heartworm medication. Leading up to boarding is a good time to change to the Once-A-Year heartworm protection to ensure there are no mistakes in your pet's heartworm prevention.

Be sure to leave your emergency number and the contact details of your veterinarian.

5. How much will I have to pay?

The fees for boarding range from $15 to $50 per day for dogs and sometimes more for specialist care. Cats are a few dollars cheaper. Holiday surcharges sometimes apply.

If you want individual playtime for your dog, there may be an additional fee for this and most kennels charge a fee for the compulsory bath on entry.

6. Can I take my pet's toys with me?

Kennel owners usually accept the pet's toys but because there is so much else going on, the pet will usually ignore the toys so it won't hurt to leave them behind. Any toys provided should be named.

7. Are there alternatives to boarding kennels?

While most pets enjoy their stay in boarding kennels, some don't. For such pets, there are alternatives.

Engaging a house sitter in a good idea because your pet then stays in its normal home environment, but choose your sitter with care.

Also several organizations, including Don't Fret Pet, offer home-based care for pets. Through such organizations, your dog will be cared for in the home of a pet lover and will be treated like one of their own pets, usually being allowed inside the home with the home owners.

You could also organise for a friend or relative to care for your dog in their own home but be certain their yard is escape-proof.

There are several home-visit services that will visit to care for your pet if you choose to leave it at home but if you use this option, be sure your pet has the personality that will cope with the long hours alone.

One thing you shouldn't do is to leave your pet alone with no-one to care for it. You would be surprised at how many pet owners do just that!