Pet Lady Question

To Kennel or not to Kennel

That is the Question

10/25/05

 

Q:We are going on vacation over Christmas, and we canít take our animals.How do we find a good kennel?Iím nervous about leaving my animals somewhere.

A:With the holidays fast-approaching, a lot of people are facing the same dilemma.If your animals are well-trained, often itís possible to take them with you.†† However, some animals donít travel well, and many destinations do not allow animals.If this is the case, you have a couple of options.

Kennels are the first option most people consider.Your veterinarian should be able to make some recommendations. Take the time to go and visit any kennel before making your final decision.†† A good kennel will have a bed and plenty of water in each kennel.The kennels should be cleaned at least daily and sterilized between uses.Check to make sure any outside runs have roofs so dogs canít climb out.Homesick dogs often go to great lengths to escape. If you are boarding a cat, make sure there is a separate place for the cats away from the stress of barking dogs.Ask if the kennel offers playtime in a separate area.Do they offer daily grooming or playtime for cats? Some kennels now offer luxury suites with individual rooms to reduce stress. Paying extra for these special services can make your animal companion feel more at home and less stressed by the kennel environment.During your visit, talk to the staff and find out what type of training and animal experience they have.Kennels should always ask for proof of vaccinations to make sure the animals staying at their facility are current.There is always a chance your furry friend can get sick while staying at a kennel, but requiring up-to-date vaccinations helps to reduce the risk.Once you choose the kennel, make reservations as soon as you know the dates you will need.Kennels fill up quickly over the holidays.When you bring your animal companion to the kennel, leave something that smells like you (an old t-shirt) so the familiar scent will help comfort the animal.Bring the food you normally feed so the animal will not have an upset stomach due to a change in food.

Pet Sitters:You may want to look into getting a neighbor or friend to come into the home to take care of your animals while you are gone.There are pet sitters who provide this service in the area with the cost ranging from $10 to $20/visit with each additional animal costing $5 - $15 extra.It is much less stressful for an animal to stay in their own environment whenever possible.Cats especially do much better staying at home. ††If you decide to use a pet sitter have the person come to your home prior to your vacation to see how they get along with your animals.You want to make sure that your animals are comfortable, and the pet sitter is able to get close to them to give them the attention they need.Ask if the pet sitter is a member of any of the pet sitting groups, such as the National Association of Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International and if they have insurance to cover any problems that may occur while your animals are in their care.Does the pet sitter have an alternative person to care for the animals if something happens?Get a medical release form from your veterinarian allowing the pet sitter to medically care for your animal if necessary. (The pet sitter may provide one.)Make a list of your animal companions favorite things to do, favorite spots (especially hiding spots for cats), and a schedule of a normal day.Although the person may not be with your animal all day, itís helpful to know what the animal is used to doing.Always leave emergency contact numbers for you, a neighbor you trust, and your vet. If you will have access to e-mail, leave an e-mail address and request updates if you so desire.Feel free to call at any point to check on how your animals are doing.If a kennel or pet sitter says you may not do so, then look somewhere else.

Leaving your animal companions while you go on vacation can be stressful for both you and the animals, but with a little planning and preparation, you can go on your vacation knowing your animal friends will be safe and perhaps be enjoying a vacation of their own.

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