The festive season is here and we can feel the excitement in the air!
And just like us, our pets can feel it too. They can sense that some major change is happening soon, and they are probably getting anxious with all the noise, people, and packing.
We can't really blame them, as celebrations can get chaotic, but have you given thought to their stay? If you are traveling this season, are you taking your pet along with you or have you planned out where they will be going for the duration of your travel?
If thinking about their stay is giving YOU anxiety, then fret not dear pet parent. We have come up with a pet owner's guide to choosing the perfect pet boarding place for your furry friends.
There are a couple of options that you could consider, such as pet sitting, pet boarding, or even pet resorts. Use this guide to figure out the best option for your little (or big!) friend.
The most comfortable place for your pets is the home in which they live. You can reduce their stress and discomfort by having a trained and experienced pet sitter spend quality time with your pet in their environment. You can choose to have someone stay at your place, or have them come multiple times during the day according to your pet's needs.
This is the most feasible option for your pet as they will only miss you, but at the least, they will still be in comfortable grounds. You could ask your neighbour or a close friend to stay over if they are well-versed in taking care of a pet.
An alternative to this would be to drop your pet off at a friend's house, preferably a friend that your pet is familiar with. This may cause some level of stress to your pet, but being with familiar faces might alleviate some of it. Do warn your friends that your pet may mark their territory while getting used to the new place.
If both of these options are not feasible for you, then you may want to look into pet boarding.
You have quite a few options when it comes to pet boarding. You can choose to have your pet stay at kennels/catteries, boarding houses, pet resorts, or pet hotels. All of these offer different services, so it's up to you to choose your preferred option
Being caged is not anybody's favourite place to be, but if you are traveling and you cannot take your pet along, then a kennel/cattery must be on your list of options.
When being housed with other pets whose vaccination history is unknown to you, being in a private kennel is the safest option. If your dog cannot be social or is aggressive towards other animals, then this is a safe bet. Cats like their space too and are usually not welcoming to other animals being in their space, so they would benefit from a cattery as well.
What you need to know before choosing a kennel/cattery:
- Depending on the size of your pet, you need to make sure the kennel is spacious enough for your pet. Have a look at the other pets there, and judge if they seem comfortable or not. Check out the actual kennel your pet is going to stay at, before making a decision.
- Check for cleanliness and hygiene. If the place smells and looks dirty, chances are that they are not caring for the pets properly. Try to find a clean space with attentive staff.
- Ensure that there are open spaces for your dogs to run around and relieve themselves. Nobody wants to be caged for days.
- Is the space tightly packed with no proper ventilation? Then strike it off your options list! Do make sure that the kennels are roomy with proper airflow, even if there's no air-conditioning (unless your pet needs it!)
2) Home Boarding:
This is where your pets would be in a house or a cage-free environment. Such places would only house a limited number of pets, so do your inquiry early on.
Home boarding would suit your pet if they are shy, timid, or if they get aggressive and stressed around other animals. They would also get a lot more attention and supervision than regular kennel boarding. If your pet has a preferred diet, it would be easier to administer it in a home boarding environment.
What you need to know before choosing a home boarding:
- Visit the place beforehand and ensure that there is enough space for your pets to move around. Check to see if the boundary walls and gates are high enough and secure.
- If the house accepts multiple species of pets, check to see how they are isolated or taken care of, should there be a fight. This environment is not recommended if your pet is aggressive towards other species.
3) Pet Resorts:
Who doesn't enjoy being pampered and having a relaxing time?! If your pet likes people and other pets, then this is one of the better boarding options. There would be pet-related activities, personal attention, and enough space for your pets to enjoy!
What you need to know before choosing a pet resort:
- Check if there's ample staff to supervise your pets, especially around the pool area.
- Ensure that the space is well monitored so that pets cannot go missing on the grounds.
4) Pet Hotels:
These are perfect if you are looking for private or semi-private boarding. Pet hotels usually offer gourmet food, luxury bedding, and spa and grooming sessions. Your pets may just get excited to stay here!
What you need to know before choosing a pet hotel:
- Check if the staff are well-trained to handle pets, especially if the guests get into a fight.
- Find out if the rooms are well-lit and ventilated and if they are regularly cleaned after every guest.
How to choose the best option?
Different pets have different needs, and you would know which option suits your pet the best. While pet sitting is much easier for the pet, you might have no choice but to choose pet boarding. There are plenty of good boarding places, it's up to you to do your best research. Some things to keep in mind are given below:
- Personally check out the place of stay: Don't simply depend on recommendations and reviews. Check out the place for yourself, and if possible take your pet along with you. See how the staff treats your pet and if your pet feels comfortable in the surrounding. Getting the pet used to the place will also make it easier when it is time for them to stay.
- Is the place clean and does it smell? If the place is not clean or if it smells bad, simply go home. The place is not worth it, no matter how good are their promotions.
- Are there other pets boarding? Are they chained? If there aren't many other pets, then the place may not be trusted by other pet parents. Also if they chain pets, then they will chain your pet too.
- Find out who will be handling your pet, and whether the same person will be walking your pet too: This helps to figure out if they have enough staff for personal attention and how your pet interacts with the staff in your presence.
- Check to see if they have an in-house veterinarian, or if they have a veterinarian nearby: This helps in case of any pet emergency and you can rest assured that your pet will be well taken care of.
- Food arrangements: Ask and find out what type of food will be served to your pet. If allowed, give the staff the food you usually feed your pet, so that you can avoid any food-related allergies.
- Checking in on your pet: Most establishments offer a 24/7 live camera feed, or they would send photos of your pet at regular intervals. Choose a place that has this facility (preferably the live feed) to keep a check on your pet while you are traveling.
- Rules for vaccinated pets: Find out if the boarding takes in pets who are not vaccinated as well. This could prove to be problematic as your pet will socialise with the other pets, and if they are not vaccinated then your pets are at risk of getting distemper, rabies, or parvovirus.
Bonus tip: Give your pet a thorough medicated tick bath after returning, in case your pet has picked up any ticks, fleas, or other skin-related problems from boarding. It doesn't always happen, but it is better to be cautious.
Do your due diligence while choosing your pet's stay. Don't simply follow recommendations, but check it out personally and take your pet along with you. Talk to the staff and the other pet parents, before finalising on a place. After all, we only want the best for our fur babies.