Pet Boarding: The Elements of a Top Facility

It’s no surprise that pet owners dislike being away from their pet–even if it’s for a planned and much-desired vacation. Some pet owners will take the time to design their vacation plans based on where they are allowed to travel with their pet, but even this can be stressful to both pet and owner, and it can seriously limit one’s travel options. Pet boarding facilities, where pets can receive the attention and care they need to be happy and healthy in their owner’s absence, are truly the best option.

Finding a Top Pet Boarding Facility

When it comes to choosing your pet’s home away from home, you are probably really picky. This is completely acceptable, as your pickiness will help to ensure that all your pet’s needs are fully met, and you are able to rest knowing they are safe, healthy and happy. To that end, consider the following attributes of a top pet boarding facility:

  • Facility appearance. Pet boarding facilities should always look and smell neat and clean. In fact, staff at top pet boarding facilities are proud of their facility’s appearance and often want to show them off. In some cases, visitors are not permitted in the main boarding areas because some animals can react unpredictably, aggressively or fearfully when confronted by strangers and because visitors can contaminate sterile environments. That said, these facilities usually still allow visitors into certain areas, which should give you a feel for how it is organized and cleaned. When considering the layout and design of the facility, ask staff why it is that way–for example, why they have indoor/outdoor runs or just indoor runs, indoor/outdoor exercise areas or just indoor exercise areas and so forth. The explanations should be logical and beneficial to the health and safety of boarding pets.
  • Facility security. Even pets that are very well cared for during their owner’s absence may still try to find their owners–it’s a natural inclination caused by their close bond with their owners. It’s therefore extremely important that the facility in which they are housed is fully secure, with sturdy run dividers, fencing and gates that will prevent climbers, diggers and jumpers from escaping. Cats should never be allowed to board in a way that is entirely free in an uncovered enclosure.
  • Facility safety. It’s unlikely that any pet could possibly feel as comfortable and safe in a pet boarding facility as they feel in their own home. However, certain elements of the facility can help to ensure maximum comfort and safety. This includes solid dividers between enclosures or runs that allow for pet privacy, non-slip surfaces and a lack of harmful chemicals, sharp objects and other dangerous things.
  • Facility supervision. As pet owners are well aware, pets can often encounter health issues quite suddenly, and quick action is necessary in order to prevent severe illness or injury. Pets at top boarding facilities are constantly supervised by trained and experienced staff, who are alert for and can detect symptoms like lethargy, intestinal disorders, urinary problems, loss of appetite, coughing, sneezing, discharge from the eyes or nose and much more.
  • Facility sanitation procedures. Any top boarding facility will be free from accumulated dirt, feces, parasites and odors. This is achieved through strict sanitation procedures that include the use of effective disinfectants.
  • Facility health care. Pets at boarding facilities should always receive excellent health care, including:
    • Plenty of clean drinking water, provided in individual containers.
    • Established and unchanging feeding schedules. The facility may provide top quality food for boarders, but more often they will request that you bring your pet’s food with them in order to minimize the discomfort that is often caused by changes in diet.
    • Veterinary services. Ideally your pet will not require any sort of veterinary care during your absence, but it is far better to be safe than sorry. Some boarding facilities have a veterinarian on the premises during normal business hours, in order to provide boarders with any necessary care.
    • Immunization requirements. All boarding pets should have up-to-date core immunizations, including rabies, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus and bordetella for dogs and rabies, panleukopenia, feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and pneumonitis for cats.
    • Medication administration. If a boarding pet is on a medication program, the facility should be able to administer their medication as prescribed during their stay. That said, boarding facilities may not accept pets with severe medical problems and programs, for their own and other boarding pets’ safety.
  • Facility comfort. Pet boarding facilities should always have provisions for pet comfort, including:
    • Temperature control. This includes air conditioned or heated accommodations, depending on the season and weather.
    • Exercise areas. Whether indoor or outdoor, exercise areas should be available for boarding pets. Dogs should have enough room to run and play, while cats simply need enough room to stretch and scratch.
    • Shelter from the elements. While the main boarding areas are obviously indoors and enclosed, exercise areas may be outside. There should be adequate shelter from the wind, rain, snow and sun in these outdoor spaces.
    • Proper ventilation. While fresh air is important, it is also important that there are no drafts or spread of potentially contaminated air.
    • Comfortable lighting. Boarding facility lighting should neither be too bright nor too dark, but comfortable throughout the different times of the day and night.
    • Appropriate bedding. Raised beds are often more comfortable for pets to rest on than platforms on the floor. Whatever the bed situation, appropriate bedding should be available to help pets rest comfortably, or you should be allowed to bring your own bedding.
  • Facility professionalism. Some of the primary earmarks of professionalism that you should notice in a top boarding facility include:
    • Staff who are clean and neat in appearance and obviously interested in and concerned about the pets for whom they care.
    • A boarding agreement that outlines the owner’s rights and the facility’s responsibilities.

The Bottom Line

While the above elements of a top boarding facility are definitely important to verify, the bottom line is that you will know when a facility is right for you and your pet. You will feel that the staff genuinely care about pets and their owners, and you will recognize that their training and experience allow them to provide the best possible care.

For more information about the elements of a top boarding facility, contact us today.