Pet Boarding: How to Prepare Your Pet

You and your pet develop a deep, mutually beneficial bond over time, and it’s no secret that you both would prefer if you could always stay home together. However, the fact is that certain life events arise that necessitate travel, such as family reunions and events, vacations and more, and your pet will require alternate care during these times.

The good news is that professional pet boarding facilities, such as 121 Animal Hospital and Boarding, can provide your pet with the excellent care they need in order to remain healthy, safe and happy during your absence. Needless to say, dropping your pet off at a boarding facility may not be your, or your pet’s, favorite activity. But the more you prepare for the boarding experience, the smoother this experience will go and the better you and your pet will feel about their stay.

What to Do Before and During Drop-Off

The very first step in preparing for pet boarding is to research boarding facilities and find the one that works well for you and your pet’s needs. Recommendations from your friends, neighbors and trusted veterinarian can be useful in locating a reputable boarding facility, and then a visit to that facility can confirm whether it is appropriate to your pet’s needs. Once you have selected a pet boarding facility and know your travel plans, you should prepare your pet for boarding by:

  • Making reservations for your pet as early as possible. You should never delay making pet boarding reservations, for the simple reason that boarding facilities can quickly fill up–especially during holidays, peak vacation times and weekends. Knowing that your pet has a reserved spot at the boarding facility can take a load off your mind and allow you to focus on other preparations.
  • Arranging any special services you wish your pet to receive while boarding. Some boarding facilities provide bathing, grooming, socialization, training and other additional services during their stay. Similar to the facility itself, these services can quickly book up, so secure your pet’s spot early on.
  • Collecting all documents and items necessary for your pet’s boarding. Boarding facilities usually require copies of your pet’s immunization records, so make sure you have these to hand. You will also want to set aside any special food or treats, medication, bedding or toys you wish to take to the boarding facility, along with any special instructions about these items.
  • Remaining positive and upbeat about the boarding process. You have probably already noticed how in-tune with your emotions your pet is, and how your moods can affect your pet’s moods. This is certainly true of any new experience, like boarding, which means you can help them overcome any of their own anxiety by remaining positive and upbeat throughout the entire process.
  • Checking in early on the day of drop-off. While you and the boarding facility staff will work closely together to make sure the drop-off goes as smoothly as possible, it is always best to arrive early. This will allow you plenty of time to fill out all necessary paperwork without having to rush, and to do so in a calm manner that will benefit your pet. Make sure you note down the information about where you can be reached in the case of an emergency, as well as the name and phone number of a local contact and your pet’s veterinarian.
  • Saying goodbye. Boarding facilities do not usually allow pet owners to place their pets in their boarding runs or rooms, for a variety of different reasons. Instead, they will encourage you to say goodbye to your pet in the main office area before they walk them back. Once again, this is an opportunity to be positive and upbeat, for your own and your pet’s benefit. Keep in mind that you have chosen a boarding facility because you want more than someone who will just feed or walk your pet–you want someone with the training and experience to truly keep your pet safe, happy and healthy in your absence.

What to Do During Pick-Up

You and your pet will both be understandably excited about your return, but there are still some important steps you need to take in order to ensure pick-up from the boarding facility goes as smoothly as possible:

  • Arrange to pick up your pet during normal business hours. Not only will this help you to avoid costly after-hours charges, it will help to ensure that there is little disruption to the quieter evening schedule for your own and other boarding pets.
  • Inquire about how your pet did during their stay. Of course it can be fun to hear about how much your pet enjoyed certain interactions and activities, but other information about their stay can be useful for future boarding experiences. You will want to know whether your pet adapted well to the environment and routine, or whether they required any special handling.
  • Abstain from feeding or watering your dog for about four hours after bringing them home. Cats can be a bit indifferent about the whole boarding experience, from being dropped off at the facility to being brought back home. If they feel at all stressed or anxious, they will abstain from eating or drinking until they feel better. Dogs, however, tend to become very excited about their return home, and this excitement can cause them to gulp down their food and water. Unfortunately, this can upset their stomach and lead to vomiting or diarrhea. Giving them a few hours to calm down will help to prevent this from occurring.
  • Be prepared for a lot of sleeping. After the excitement of a boarding facility, some pets will sleep a lot for a couple of days upon their return home. However, you know your pet very well, and if it seems that they are really not their normal self, you should contact your veterinarian to discuss your concerns. In many cases it may simply be that your pet is re-adjusting to home life, but it is always prudent to make sure they aren’t experiencing a medical issue.
  • Move back into your normal routine. You can help your pet, and yourself, transition back into home life by moving back into your normal routine as quickly as possible. This includes adhering to your pet’s normal feeding and exercise schedules.

With proper preparation, your pet’s boarding experience can be smooth and pleasant for both of you. Your pet can come to understand that they are receiving the best possible care while you are away–and you can rest assured that they are safe and happy in your absence.

For more information about preparing for pet boarding, contact us today.