In an ideal world, we’d have a kind friend or family member on standby, ready and willing to look after our dog when we’re unable to. Unfortunately, that isn’t always an option. Putting the family pooch into a boarding kennels is a safe and convenient solution.
Why Use Kennels?
It’s not always possible to take our dog with us on trips. As much as we’d love to have dear Fido sat next to us on the beach in Benidorm. Unless he has a pet passport and is happy to take a long trip, your option is to book him into the kennels for a week or two.
There may be other instances where a short stay in the local kennels is required, such as when you move house or if you need to go into hospital for an operation.
Booking a place at a kennels may be convenient, but there are a few things to consider first.
Any dog entering kennels must be vaccinated against the following:
- Canine distemper
- Canine parainfluenza
- Adenovirus 1 and 2
Check your dog’s vaccination card to see if he’s up to date with his boosters. Puppies are usually vaccinated in the first few weeks of their life, typically by the breeder. They then require annual boosters to ensure continued immunity.
Any reputable kennel will ask to see your record of vaccination. If you can’t find it or you have missed a booster shot, you may need to start the entire course from scratch. Ask your vet for advice on how best to proceed.
Dogs entering kennels will also need a kennel cough vaccination. Kennel cough is not serious, but it can be unpleasant for the dog. Unfortunately, it’s very contagious, and if one dog is infected in the kennels, the rest are at-risk. Most kennels will insist on seeing a kennel cough vaccination certificate before they accept your pet, so even though this is not part of your dog’s annual booster vaccinations, you will need to make an appointment to have it done before booking his place in the kennels.
Some kennels insist the vaccination is given 14 days prior to boarding, so don’t leave it until the last minute.
Is Your Dog Covered for Illness, Accidents, or Death?
Pet insurance is not compulsory, but it is recommended. Insurance protects you from huge vet bills as well as third-party liability claims. For example, Everypaw’s a UK pet insurance provider that can cover kennel fees if you need to be hospitalized, but there is a maximum claim allowed. If you do need to go into a hospital, read the T&Cs of your pet insurance cover to find out how much you can claim for boarding fees and the circumstances under which you can claim.
Pet insurance also gives you peace of mind that your dog is covered in the event he succumbs to illness, an accident, or dies while in the care of a boarding kennel.
If your dog has health problems before you place him in a boarding kennel, make sure the kennels are aware of this. Most will have procedures in place to cater for animals with health issues. They usually don’t mind administering medication or special diets. It’s best to provide specific instructions where necessary, or there is a chance that medication won’t be given or your dog might not receive the correct care.
Provide the kennel with an information pack, plus the information for your vet so their vet can retrieve your pet’s medical records in the event of an emergency.
It’s worth making it clear that you’re happy for any medical treatment to go ahead (if required). Kennels would usually pay upfront and then pass on the cost to the owner.
If your pet has a chronic illness or is in poor health, make your wishes known in the event he passes away while you are not there. For example, would you want your dog cremated or held in cold storage until your return? Kennel owners are not mind readers, and if they can’t get hold of you for any reason, they’ll act as they see fit – which might not be in accordance with your wishes!
Separation anxiety is a big problem for some dogs, especially those that have been adopted from rescue centers. As many as 80% of dogs don’t cope well with being left alone or separated from their owner. Not all dogs show obvious signs of separation anxiety, but if your dog gets upset when you leave him home alone or howls while you’re at work, he’s likely to find it tough being left in kennels.
Symptoms of separation anxiety include:
- Toileting in inappropriate areas
- Excessive barking and howling
- Destructive behavior
Since you won’t be there when you leave your dog, these issues are not going to affect you directly, but bear in mind that your dog might go off his food and become extremely stressed in your absence.
Speak to the kennel about this before you bring your dog. Some kennels may not be able to devote the care needed for a dog with anxiety issues. Your dog’s welfare is paramount, so you need to know you the staff are able to take extra good care of your dog while you’re gone.
If your pet suffers from separation anxiety, speak to your vet or an animal behaviorist to see if they can help you de-sensitize the dog or help offer some coping strategies.
Make sure the facility lets you take your pet’s own bed and toys, so he has some home comforts. Check how much exercise and outdoor play time each dog has, as possibly being confined for long hours of the day will make matters worse.
Food and Exercise
Before you book a kennel, ask what facilities they have for exercise – do they take dogs for walks? Energetic dogs need lots of exercise, so factor this in when choosing a suitable facility. Find out also whether you need to provide your dog’s regular food or meals are provided.
Take your time when choosing a boarding kennel for your dog. It’s important that both of you are happy with the final decision.