What to do before you board your pet

When you plan a vacation, you plan what to pack, what to purchase before you go, what you’ll do when you arrive, and what chores to tackle before you leave. You create a detailed budget and print out your itinerary. No doubt one of your pre-trip chores is to drop off Buddy at the vet before you go. But have you made a list of what to do to prep Buddy, what to take with him, and what to expect?

If not, here’s a list of 7 things you should do before you drop off your furry pals at the kennel:

1. Book your spot early.

You booked the plane tickets months ago, but have you secured Buddy’s spot at the boarding kennel yet? If not, he might not have a place to stay while you’re gone. Kennels fill up fast, especially during peak times, such as summer and Christmas. Book your boarding spot as soon as your travel plans are finalized.

2. Tour the kennel.

If your pet has never been to the boarding facility before, ask if you can come look at the accommodations. You want to know where your pet will be while you’re gone, and what amenities they offer, such as raised beds or an on-site dog park.

You also want to get a glimpse of how the staff treats their boarded animals – are they exercising proper safety? Are they gentle with the pets? Is there adequate space, water, and food for the pets? Is the kennel temperature controlled?

3. Try one night or day care first.

If the boarding facility provides a doggy daycare, it’s worth taking your dog in for an afternoon, or once a week for a few weeks leading up to your trip. For a cat, or for a kennel that doesn’t provide doggy daycare, consider boarding your pet overnight once or twice before the trip so you can see how they handle it, and any reactions they may have after boarding (diarrhea, clinginess, etc.)

4. Pack some comfort items.

Like a kid going to summer camp, Buddy and Whiskers will feel more at home if they have some of their favorite toys, blankets, or treats while you’re gone! Most kennels provide food, but allow you to bring your own. A sudden change in diet can irritate the GI tract. Ask the boarding facility what you may bring for your pet before you drop them off.

Of course, you should take any medications or special food for your pet, as well as any necessary accessories, such as a harness, lead, or leash.

However, do not take meaningful or hard-to-replace items, as there’s always a risk of damage or loss!  

5. See the vet first.

Boarding facilities require current vaccinations, a clean bill of health, and current flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Bring Buddy and Whiskers in to Chisholm Trail Veterinary Clinic for a check-up before you board them. Not only will you know that they are safe to be around other pets, but you’ll also have peace of mind that your pet is in the best possible health before you leave them alone.

Oh, and while you’re here, microchip your pets if you haven’t already. Boarding facilities have stringent safety protocols in place, but animals are crafty and strong when they are scared, and if Buddy makes a great escape, you have a better chance of finding him if he has a microchip.

6. Don’t change your routine.

Don’t choose the week of your vacation to pack in a ton of new adventures. Being left with strangers is stressful for some pets. Adding unnecessary people or places makes it more so.

Additionally, don’t change your pet’s diet or routine before you leave. You don’t want to leave a vomiting dog at the kennel!

7. Leave a contact number.

The boarding facility must be able to contact you or someone you trust to make decisions about your pet while you’re gone. Some kennels send daily updates and photos that can give you great peace of mind to see that Whiskers is doing well.

More importantly, if your pet becomes ill or injured while you’re away, the boarding facility needs to contact you.

Boarding your pets while you’re away can be stressful for both you and your fur-babies. By following a few steps, you lessen the strain on everyone so you and your pet both enjoy yourselves on vacation.