When making travel plans, one of the biggest decisions for pet owners is what to do with their pets while they're away. Here, our Dallas veterinarians discuss boarding options and questions to consider when choosing a boarding facility.
As a pet parent, you understand that pets are more than just pets, they’re members of your family. So, when it comes to leaving your pet in the care of another person, you will want to ensure that they’re trustworthy and that your furry loved one will be well cared for.
Pet Sitting in Your Home
One of the easiest options is to have a friend, neighbor, or family member care for the pet in your own home while you’re gone. Cats and dogs are most comfortable in their environments, so having someone that you know and trust come by for regular feedings, walks, and play times is a good option. Alternatively, they could stay in your home and take care of your pets if you are away for a long period.
There are also professional pet-sitting services that offer home visits in your local area. You will want to do your research before you decide on whom to hire. The best way to start your search for a trustworthy pet sitter is by going through referrals and reading reviews online from other pet parents. You will also want to confirm if they are insured and if they have passed certifications for pet handling and first aid.
It is important to confirm that the person you are choosing to care for your pet is responsible and knowledgeable about the basics of pet care. You will also want to provide them with any information they may need about your pet including feeding times, regular routines, and what to do in case of an emergency.
Private In-home Pet Boarding
Another alternative is private in-home boarding where you bring your pet to a pet sitter’s home before leaving on vacation. This option provides a more intimate setting for your pet with more one-on-one attention. It can also be a more affordable option, with the added security of not giving up your house keys.
If you have a friend or family member that is a responsible pet owner they may be able to welcome your pet into their home while you are away. There are also professional pet-sitting services that provide in-home boarding, remember to do your research first.
A common option for pet parents is placing pets in boarding kennels or cat boarding facilities while you’re away. Cat boarding facilities are similar to dog kennels where cats are placed in their area. Depending on the facility, cats may be placed in cages or a private cage-free area.
Boarding kennels can fill up quickly so you will want to call ahead and make arrangements for the dates you will be traveling. You will also want to confirm that the kennel has a Pet Care Services Association (PCSA) certification and that the caretakers are licensed.
Boarding at the Veterinarian's
If your pet has special medical needs, or if you prefer to have trained veterinary professionals caring for your pet, you may choose to board at your veterinary office or local animal hospital. The primary benefit of boarding through your vet’s office is that there is already an established relationship between the veterinarian and staff and your pet.
How to choose a boarding facility
The first step of the boarding process is asking the right questions and identifying what's most important for your pet, this information can help you decide on the best option. Start by researching the facility online and looking over its online reviews. Once you shortlist your options you will want to contact the facility to ask questions. Before you call, prepare a list of questions, both general and specific to your pet’s needs.
Some general questions could include:
- What pet care background, certifications, education, and expertise does the facility or individual have?
- What is the ratio of the dog or cats per staff?
- What is their screening process for identifying pets with behavioral issues?
- How many animals do they put in a playgroup?
- How much playtime and exercise will they get?
- How are animals grouped? (by size, age, temperament, etc.)
- How often are the facilities cleaned?
It can also be helpful to take a tour of a pet boarding facility that you’re considering. While visiting make careful observations to determine if this is the appropriate boarding service for your pet.