Many pet owners are concerned about leaving their pet in a boarding facility, but preparation is key, and will help you feel relaxed and enjoy your time away. Choosing a facility, meeting health requirements, and accounting for emergencies are some steps you should take. The Village Animal Hospital team shares our checklist for pet boarding success.

#1: Gather information about your local pet care options

The first step is determining your local options. Our facility has limited boarding availability for existing clients, although we also refer pets to a few local kennels when we are out of space. Gather information about pricing, services, and day-to-day operations at each facility by talking on the phone, having in-person discussions, and taking facility tours to get a good feel for the facility and instigate thoughts about the best environment for your pet. 

#2: Choose a boarding facility that suits your pet’s needs

Based on each facility’s offerings, daily schedule, and accommodations, and your pet’s needs, the next step is choosing the right location and reserving your pet’s stay. If none of the kennels you visit meet your pet’s needs, or your pet has a history of stress and anxiety in similar situations, consider in-home pet-sitting services or ask a family member or friend to watch your pet. Some pets thrive in a social space, while others do better in their own homes.

#3: Schedule a pet wellness checkup and vaccine visit

Next, schedule a visit with our team to check your pet’s overall health, discuss anticipated or possible issues that could occur during their boarding stay, and update vaccines to meet the boarding kennel’s requirements. Pets who need multiple medications or have health problems that require close monitoring (e.g., seizures) should stay in our veterinary facility to ensure they receive complete care for their medical needs and quick resolution in emergencies.

#4: Acclimate your pet to the boarding facility

If your pet has not previously boarded at the kennel, take them for a full or half-day play session or “happy visit” to meet the staff and form positive associations. If that goes well, schedule a trial overnight stay to check your pet’s response. Pets who develop diarrhea, refuse to eat, have difficulty settling down, or become withdrawn may be too stressed at the kennel, and you will need to consider another pet care option or talk to our team about medications to help your pet during their stay.

#5: Pack your pet’s belongings

Once your pet’s stay is confirmed, follow our packing list to ensure they have everything they need:

  • Pre-portioned and labeled meals
  • Medications with detailed instructions
  • A comforting item that smells like home
  • Veterinary medical records
  • Completed kennel intake and authorization forms

#6: Make emergency backup plans

Should you be unreachable during your pet’s stay, appoint someone the kennel can call if your pet has a medical emergency and needs veterinary care. Choose a person you trust to authorize medical decisions in your absence, and let your veterinarian know about the temporary authorization. Place this person’s information in the emergency contact section of the kennel intake form.

#7: Check in on your pet during your trip

Feel free to call the kennel or ask for daily email or text updates about your pet’s wellbeing. Many facilities offer text message photos or pet photos from individual cameras in their suite, outside, or in playrooms. The boarding staff understands that pet owners are nervous about leaving their companions and will be eager to provide requested updates.

#8: Carefully monitor your pet after returning home

Once you and your pet return home, monitor your pet closely for signs of common boarding-related health problems. Cats may develop stress-related upper respiratory or urinary issues, while dogs may develop stress or parasite-related diarrhea or an infectious cough known as kennel cough. Call our team if you notice these issues, and contact the kennel if you believe your pet contracted a contagious illness. While most kennels take all necessary precautions against infectious disease spread, some are unavoidable, and kennel staff need to know about the problem to reduce further spread.

Travel is stressful enough, but more so when you have to leave your beloved pet behind. However, our boarding checklist can ensure you don’t forget anything before your pet’s boarding stay and help them enjoy the experience. Contact the Village Animal Hospital team to book one of our limited boarding spots or to schedule a pre-boarding wellness and vaccine visit.