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Waterford, MI 48327

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Your Ultimate Guide to Successful Pet Boarding

Rock Your Fur Baby's Staycation

Boarding our pet, for most of us, is a daunting experience. Did I choose the right kennel? Will my dog or cat be lonely or anxious while I am away? I can’t go that long without updates on how they’re doing.

Being away from a beloved companion can cause stress to both pet and person, but the experience can actually be a positive - and fun - one when both pet and persons are well prepared for the adventure.

There is much to consider when boarding a pet, and your friendly experts at Union Lake Pet Services are here with this handy guide. It contains everything you need for successful pet boarding.

Pet Boarding: Key Things to Look For

One of the first essential tasks is to think about what you want for your pet. Is your canine a more socialized dog who wants lots of interaction and exercise? Is your pet shy and prefers quiet? Do you want daily texts? Videos? Do you want the facility to also be a part of a veterinary hospital?

Take into consideration your needs, along with some other basic requirements.

We recommend a facility that:

  • Is bonded, insured, and has certification or knowledge in pet care
  • Offers tours so you can check out the facility in person
  • Has easy access to a veterinary clinic or hospital
  • Has good reviews on Google and elsewhere
  • Requires appropropriate vaccinations
  • Is clean and smells fresh
  • Emphasizes staff training and education
  • Exercises and socializes your pet (daycare or 1-1 playtime)
  • Has alternative options for pets who don’t want to socialize
  • Provides communication regarding your pet’s stay
  • Offers spacious and cozy sleeping areas

You will probably have your own checklist, too, and we encourage you to do this for your pet’s wellbeing. Always let your boarding staff know about any medical concerns or conditions with your pet that need to be accomodated (for everyone’s safety). The same is true for any aggression or behavioral issues.

Good Questions to Ask a Pet Boarding Facility

Along with the basics for great boarding for your dog or cat, it’s a good idea to have a few questions in mind as you tour the new kennel. You are putting your sweet pet in their care. You will want to have that basic trust and understanding with the right boarding facility before embarking on your pet’s stay there.

Here are some essential questions you might ask:

  • What is your boarding policy, including reservations?
  • What vaccinations do you require?
  • How often do you take them out to exercise?
  • How do you provide enrichment and socialization?
  • Where will they sleep?
  • How experienced are you with special or medical needs?
  • Is there a veterinarian on staff, or a vet tech? 
  • Do staff have training?
  • What is the protocol for illness or emergency?
  • Can I bring my own food? Toys? Blankets? Treats?
  • How often do you take them out for potty breaks? How often is the kitty litter box cleaned?
  • Will I receive text, calls, or video updates about my pet?
  • Can I speak to others who have boarded with you?
  • What makes your facility better than the rest?

How to Pack

Preparing for a stay for your pet may be a little like packing for a child (and maybe your fur kid will need more!). The best approach is to pack things that provide the comforts of home and whatever you need to maintain your pet’s daily routine.

Here is a list of things to pack for ultimate comfy cozy.

  • Your pet’s regular food and treats
  • Medications with instructions
  • Bed and blankets from home if desired
  • A few toys for in the kennel
  • Required documents for boarding
  • Leash collar and ID tags
  • A sweater or towel from home with your scent (reduces anxiety)

Most pet resorts will have suggestions or rules about what you should bring (and things not to bring). If there is anything special you think your pet will find calming, ask ahead. The goal is to make the boarding kennel experience one that your pet will be comfortable and confident in.

Boarding for cats and dogs has a variety of options that will appeal to each person differently, and obviously each pet resort will demonstrate their qualifications and offerings. Explore each option carefully.

The Big Day

Now comes the big day to take your best friend in for their staycation. While you may feel a bit of trepidation or sadness, try and maintain an upbeat attitude, which avoids making your pet feel anxious.  

Keep your pet on a leash when coming in. Experienced kennel workers will greet your pet and distract them with pats, praises, and a treat. The mood should be happy, lighthearted, and fun. When you leave, it’s understandable to want to have a long goodbye, but keep your snuggles to a minimum. After all, you want your pet to think of this experience as something that is normal, safe, and enjoyable.

Top Dog: What to Expect During Your Pet’s Stay

Each dog or cat boarding experience is unique, but there are some things you should expect from a reputable boarding facility.

  • A clear and published protocol for any injuries or illnesses that arise and access to veterinary emergency care
  • Great level of communication between staff and pet owner
  • Plenty of opportunities for exercise, potty breaks, and socialization
  • Loads of affection and attention for your pet
  • Highly experienced and loving staff for all of your pet’s needs

If the boarding facility is in high demand, or you are looking at boarding during holidays, plan on booking your pet’s stay well in advance. In most cases, a reputable facility will have everything outlined for you and will assure you of what you as a concerned pet parent can expect from them.

Wags All Around: Happy Reunion

The day of pick-up is a happy one. Your pet will be elated to see you, and no doubt you will feel the same way.

A good rule of thumb is to be upbeat and happy, but downplay the excitement. If your pet associates leaving as the ultimate goal, this may continue to create some reluctance and anxiety when you need to board again. Stay positive but deemphasize the excitement by remaining calm.

It is normal for pets to need extra sleep once they return home from boarding, especially if your dog is also doing daycare. Most aren’t used to so much socialization and play. Muscles may be slightly sore after the extra activity.

An amazing pet boarding experience requires the collective efforts of your boarding team, your pet, and you!

Union Lake Pet Services offers the experience, training, onsite veterinary hospital, and a team of pet lovers to care for your pet while you are away. Please contact us for a tour and consider boarding reservations with us next time you’ll be away.