Boarding a Pet

Sometimes, you may find yourself in the position of needing to leave your animals for a few days. If you cannot find a sitter to care for your pets in your home, you may want to consider boarding them at a kennel. And since there are more than 9,000 boarding kennels in the United States and Canada, there is probably one near you.

Fees can range from $12 to $45 a day, depending on the facility, the type of services offered, and other factors. While boarding a pet may seem like a simple procedure, there are still some questions you might want to ask, says Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, Clinical Assistant Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“A good way to find out who the best boarders are is usually by word of mouth,” Blue-McLendon believes. “People tend to be picky about their pets, and they know who the good boarders are and which ones to avoid.”

Blue-McLendon says a prospective boarder should try to tour a facility before boarding the pet.

“Look to see if the facility is clean,” she advises. “Also, inquire about temperature control, whether 24-hour care is available and if the facility allows multiple animals from the same household to be in the same holding area.”

Also, are cats kept in a separate area away from dogs? If not, they could experience some trauma. In addition, is there proper security at the facility to keep intruders out and your pet from escaping?

Is there adequate lighting at the facility, and is the bedding for the animal sufficient for its needs?

If the owner is to be away for an extended time, Blue-McLendon says it’s a good idea to ask how often the animals get exercise or some form of entertainment. Dogs will usually enjoy a brisk walk, she says, but some facilities may not have the manpower for such activity.

Parasites can often be a problem for some boarding facilities, and the diseases they carry can be harmful to your pet, Blue-McLendon adds.

A common ailment associated with boarding of animals is bordetella, commonly known as “kennel cough.” Although usually not serious, the ailment can be a nagging problem and is caused by the pet’s close proximity with other animals. Vaccinations are available to prevent it, Blue-McLendon says.

Once the animal has been picked up at the boarding facility, you may want to see the log kept during its stay.  Most facilities keep daily records of how often the pet was fed, exercised or groomed.

“Boarding a pet can be a tough time for some animals, especially if they are not used to it,” Blue-McLendon says. “The best solution is usually to keep the animal at home and have someone care for it in its own environment. But if that isn’t possible, boarding is necessary and that’s when the owner needs to do a little homework.  Most facilities are properly run, but it’s always best to do a little checking around before you board your pet.”

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

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