How to Ensure Your Pet's Boarding Experience Is Healthy

If you're planning a trip in the coming months, then you may be considering sending your dog to a boarding facility while you're away. Many owners do this each year without issues, but of course, you've probably heard stories about pets becoming ill during or after their stay at a boarder. The good news is that this is avoidable. By planning ahead and following these tips, you can ensure your dog's experience at the boarding facility is a healthy one. 

Choose the right boarding facility.

Take the time to visit a few boarding facilities in your area. Go in person so that you can see what the actual facilities are like. Check to ensure the cages appear clean, the dogs in their care appear healthy, and the staff appear responsible and attentive. You should also ask the boarding facility about their vaccination policy. Do they require that dogs have certain vaccinations—including vaccines for kennel cough, canine distemper, canine parainfluenza, and parvovirus? Do they ask for formal documentation of these vaccines before they allow a dog to stay?

If you don't have a lot of time to shop around for the best boarding facility, opt for one that's associated with a veterinary clinic. Usually, the boarding facility will share staff with the vet clinic so you can ensure the staff are knowledgeable and that the boarding facility's regulations are made with your dog's health in mind.

Make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations.

About a month before you are due to leave, give your vet a call to check that your dog is up-to-date on all vaccines. Explain that you will be leaving your dog at a kennel in a few weeks. Your vet may recommend some vaccines that your dog may not have had in the past. For example, if you have never boarded your dog before, he or she may not have received a kennel cough vaccine because your vet may not have thought it was necessary. However, knowing that you are leaving your dog at the boarder, your vet may now recommend the vaccine. 

Getting the vaccines a few weeks in advance of your trip is important because it takes your dog's body some time to build immunity in response to the vaccine. The hope is that if your dog does encounter an infectious pathogen while in the boarding facility, his or her body will have immunity to that pathogen, thanks to the vaccine, so your dog won't get sick.

Take steps to reduce stress.

Just like you are more likely to become ill when you're feeling stressed out, so is your dog. Boarding can be a stressful experience, or it can be a relaxing one -- depending on how you approach it. If your dog has never been boarded before, make a few trips to the boarding facility before you leave. This way, when you drop your dog off, he or she will be familiar with the place and won't feel so stressed out.

Make sure you also take your dog's own bowls and bedding with you to the kennel. Having these familiar belongings in his or her space will make it feel more like home. If your dog often has an issue with stress and anxiety, ask your vet about calming sprays and medications. Having the kennel give your dog these medications for the first few days can keep them calm, and this lack of stress will help protect them from illness.

If you take the time to find a good boarding facility, ensure your dog is up-to-date on vaccines, and take steps to reduce stress, you'll return home to a healthy, happy dog. Learn more by visiting resources like