The Ultimate Guide on How to Choose a Pet Boarding for Your Dog or Cat
The festive season is around the corner. And while the kid in us is excited about the upcoming fun & frolic; our pet-parent side is doing rounds of anxiety before the festivals. A lot of us have to travel for the holidays and are already very stressed about the arrangements for their pets after them.
While it’s possible to travel with your pet, it may not always be feasible to do so. Hence, sometimes pet parents have no option but to leave their pets behind with a friend or at a Pet Boarding or Kennel. But pet boardings are a stressful experience for both – your dog or cat, and you as well. From finding the right pet boarding to leaving your jigar-ka-tukda all by himself, the whole experience could be a frightening one – especially if this is your first time.
There’s a variety of pet boardings available in almost all major cities in India, each boasting of better features than the other. But which of the many pet boardings is the best fit for your dog or cat? Who do you trust your furry darling with while you’re away? How do you ensure that your pet will be healthy and safe until your return? We understand that as parents, these are daunting questions. So we’ve compiled a guide for you to answer all the big questions, and help you pick the best pet boarding for your furball.
Pet Sitting vs Pet Boarding
Why boardings should be the last resort to leave your pet?
The festive season is a difficult time for your pet dog or cat. Not only they have to endure a lot of unwanted smells and sounds, but they also celebrate the festivals away from you. Pets are often stressed, agitated and confused during this time. Leaving them at an unknown place, with a bunch of other stressed, agitated and confused dogs is not the best of ideas!
As far as possible, make arrangements for your dog or cat to stay at home. Find a designated pet-sitter who would feed them food, walk them, and probably even narrate a bedtime story. This way, they’ll still miss you, but won’t miss their home at least. If your house-help or a neighbor is friendly with your pet, you can assign them the responsibility. Or best, look for a friend who’s not going home for the festivals – we bet this will light up his or her holidays too.
If this can’t work out, see if you can drop your dog or cat at a friend’s house, preferably one that’s familiar to your pet. But make sure your friend is committed and comfortable to handle a stressed animal. Festivals are a time of commotion in every household, and your pet may need more time and attention than usual days.
However, if you’re still not confident about this setup, opting to keep your pet at a boarding may be the safest bet. We’ve provided a checklist at the end of this article to ensure that you and your pet have a comfortable and less anxious time away from each other.
Types of Pet Boardings for your Dog or Cat
A lot of properties today offer a wide array of features & value-added services. But there are 4 popular formats of pet boardings in India:
1. Kennels or Crate Boardings
These establishments provide a private or semi-private kennel or crate for boarding your dog or cat. Even though the idea of caging your baby is difficult to accept as a pet parent, they’re usually the safest boarding option for your pets. This is because they keep your pets isolated from other animals at the boarding. Kennels or Crate Boardings are perfect for aggressive dogs or pets that don’t mingle with other dogs or cats. Dogs that don’t like crates or small confined spaces may have a tough time at kennels.
Things to consider in a Kennel or Crate Boarding
- The kennels must be clean, hygienic and spacious enough for your pet to eat, sleep and move around a bit.
- They must be properly lit and ventilated. Air-conditioning is not required. Unless you have a temperature-sensitive breed such as the Huskies, St. Bernards or Mastiffs.
- The enclosures must have proper drainage and sanitation arrangements. This is to keep your pet clean and dry even in case of a toilet accident.
- The boarding must have ample open areas where the dogs could run around and relieve some of their stress.
2. Home Boardings or Cage-Free Boardings
Many boardings these days offer a cage-free or homely experience to your pet dog or cat. Such boardings are often run by pet-loving individuals or families who love to house furry guests at their homes. Some of these boardings admit only one or two pets at a time. This which makes them a good option for dogs or cats who are not friendly with other pets, but are okay with humans. Home boardings may also be a good option for shy or timid dogs and cats. They’re also a better option for fussy pets because they can easily accommodate your pet’s selective food preferences.
Things to consider in a Home Boarding
- The house where the boarding is established must be hygienic and have enough space for your pet to jump around. It should be puppy-proof, in case your dog likes to chew on random things.
- If the boarding admits multiple dogs and other animals or birds as guests, make sure they have an adequate arrangement to isolate them, should the pets ever get into a fight.
- Boardings must have necessary arrangements and space to walk your dog daily.
3. Pet Resorts
Pet resorts provide semi-private and private boarding spaces for pets, along with big open fields and often a pool area. Pet resorts may offer both, kennel-type and home-boarding style treatment for your pet. Such properties are perfect for dogs who are extremely playful and energetic. Your dog could run from end to end, take a swim, or otherwise just explore nature and exhaust all his anxiety & stress away.
Things to consider in a Pet Resort
- The pet resort must have adequate fencing and check-gates along the play area, so your pet is within a safe & enclosed area even while running free.
- The pool area must be supervised by experienced pet professionals. You don’t want your dog to venture out into the pool unattended to.
- The grass in the fields must be short and all plants on the property must be pet-safe to avoid pests & any poisoning accidents.
- The resting area for the dogs must be spacious, hygienic and properly ventilated. This is essential for the dogs to cool down after a good run.
4. Luxury Hotels for Pets
These properties provide a ‘luxury experience’ to your pet during their stay. Pet hotels offer private or semi-private boarding spaces for dogs and cats. They typically include air-conditioning, premium bedding, gourmet food options for pets, and even pet grooming & spa services on property.
Things to consider in a Hotel for Dogs
- The rooms for the pets must be properly lit and ventilated. The beddings must be changed or cleaned after every guest, otherwise your baby may catch a skin infection.
- The hotel must have adequate means to break fights and isolate the guests in case of a disagreement.
- The property must have proper pet-safety mechanisms. And a staff trained to handle accidents.
How to Choose the Best Pet Boarding
So you shortlisted a few pet boardings near you, and are now confused about which one to finalize? Let us help you narrow down your search!
- Pet’s Preferences Please – Look for what’s essential for your pet. Every dog or cat is different. What worked for one pet, may not work for yours. Keep your pet in mind when you begin your research on boardings. For example, if your dog is aggressive or snappy, or just not friendly with other dogs or people, a kennel setup may suit him. If your dog is scared of closed spaces or have never lived away from you before, a home boarding setup may be ideal. If your dog or cat is going to be on heat during the boarding period, and is not sterilized yet, look for a kennel-type or single-occupancy home boardings. These options also work if your pet doesn’t tolerate other animals around.
If you’re not sure what would suit your pet, talk to the boarding administrator, your dog’s trainer or behaviorist. They’ll be able to suggest the best fit for your dog or cat.
- Pairing Criteria – If your pet is going to share space with other pets at the boarding, make sure you discuss the boarding’s pairing criteria in detail. It’s important to understand what kind of pets your dog or cat will be sharing spaces with. Discussing your pet’s nature with other animals and people will help the boarding administrators decide what other dogs could they pair your pet with. Some boardings keep small dogs and large dogs separate, others keep them grouped by age. While there are pros and cons to all grouping methods, choose the one that’s best for your pet. You must always inquire for and inspect the property’s arrangements to isolate their guests in case of a fight.
- Vaccination Checks – Ask what kind of vaccinations are required by the boarding to admit their guests. The vaccination protocols followed by the boardings define how safe your pet dog or cat will be with them. Pets are susceptible to a number of infections from other pets, especially when they get together in one big gathering. Ideally, all guest dogs must be vaccinated for Rabies, Distemper and Parvovirus. Additionally, they must also be vaccinated for Kennel Cough (Bacteria Bordetella or Canine Parainfluenza Virus). Similarly, all cats must be vaccinated for Rabies & Cat Distemper (Feline Panleukopenia) and Feline Leukemia Virus.
Here’s how to test exactly how rigid the boarding’s vaccination rules are. Try insisting on boarding your dog without proper vaccination records. If they allow your pet to come through, chances are, they may allow other pets too. That’s a big red flag! You must never put your pet at a risk of exposing him to fatal diseases.
- Food Arrangements – Festivals are a stressful period for pets. They’re confused with all the unknown sounds & smells of the festivities. More importantly, they miss you! And if they don’t get proper food during this period, it may put them at serious health risks. Make sure that the boarding you select serves a nutritious, non-processed, preferably organic diet to your pet. If you’re parenting a fussy dog or cat, you can request the boarding to feed your pet’s preferred food, instead of their own menu. You can hand them over the food packets while dropping your pet. Or if you’re a DawgieBowl subscriber, we can deliver the next refill directly at the pet boarding, if needed. As far as possible, don’t force your dog or cat to eat food against their will. A balanced and complete diet will help reduce stress and help them have a comfortable stay.
- Clean & Safe Water – Your pet must always have a source of fresh & clean water available to him. The boarding you pick must ensure that your pet has access to potable drinking water all the time. Pets tend to show signs of anxiety and stress on separation from their family. These signs can include excessive barking, panting, palpitations, vomiting and even diarrhea. All of which can lead to rapid dehydration. Clean water is essential for your pet to calm down and lower his blood pressure during this time.
- Supervision Staff – It’s not a good idea to leave your pets alone when they’re anxious. Even the most docile dogs and cats tend to behave erratically under stress. While we can try to ease their discomfort by taking all necessary precautions, it’s important to stay vigilant all the time. Boardings must arrange for trained and qualified staff members to supervise your pet’s stay at their property at all times. The boarding administration & staff will be responsible for your pet’s well-being while you’re away. Hence, it’s important to ascertain that your baby will be in experienced hands.
NEVER encourage the boarding to use calming drugs or medically sedate your pets. These drugs have catastrophic effect on your pet’s health.
- Access & Vigilance – Even if you’ve prepared your dog or cat well, it’s important to periodically check in on them during their boarding stay. Most luxury boardings offer a 24x7 live camera feed to your pet’s room or kennel. Otherwise WhatsApp or other messaging platforms can easily enable you to have a constant check on your darling. Always make sure the boarding staff has your contact information handy, for any emergency.
- View & Review – It’s very important that you visit the boarding facility a few times before you drop your pet for his stay. You and your pet, both need to get comfortable with the property and its staff. Sometimes, the boarding may have raving reviews online, but may fall short of expectations in reality. To avoid later disappointment and discomfort to your pet, don’t believe anything unless you witness it. More importantly, spending time with your pet at the property will make you both familiar with the administration and staff at the boarding. It does sound like too much effort, but better being safe than sorry.
Checklist for a Happy Pet Boarding Experience
We’ve listed some quick & easy tips to make sure your pet dog or cat has a comfortable and less stressful boarding experience
Discuss Your Pet
Talk to the boarding about your dog or cat’s personality, preferences and priorities. Make sure nobody gets any surprises.
Rehearse Your Stay
Get your pet used to the property. Start with a few hours everyday, and then increase time to gradually desensitize your dog.
Get your pet duly vaccinated at least 7 – 10 days before the stay. Unvaccinated puppies or kittens must never be left at pet boardings.
Inform your pet’s food service to deliver refills at the boarding for the duration of the stay, or make alternate arrangements.
Pack Pet’s Essentials
Your pet’s collar, leash, name tag, water & food bowls, a copy of his updated vaccination chart, his favorite toys, few of your old t-shirts.
Do Random Checks
Always remember to check on your pet periodically. Insist on a visual contact with your dog or cat.
Wash After Return
Your pet must get a thorough shower on their way back from the boarding. This is to ensure no germs or diseases are carried home.
Never shy away from asking difficult questions from the boarding folks. It’s your right as a pet parent and as a paying customer. You’re going to have to trust them with your pet’s well-being for the duration of your travel. Building trust requires diligence & hard work. But when it’s about your darling doggo or kittie, it’s worth it!
Got stories or experiences to share from your pet’s last boarding stay? Post them in the comments below.
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