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What to Keep in Mind When Boarding a Dog

Shellie Braeuner
Dec. 15, 2015

Make sure your dog's vacation is as safe and happy as yours with these dog-boarding essentials!

You're all packed and ready for your much-needed vacation when your faithful companion jumps in the suitcase and gives you the sad puppy-dog eyes. This time he can't come with you, but the right dog boarder can still give him the love and care he needs while you're away. Here are several essentials to consider before boarding a dog.

Choosing a Boarding Option
The days of imagining your dog locked in a cage are over. Today there is a wide range of boarding options designed to keep you and your dog happy. Whether you choose a pet sitter, a boarding home or a larger pet resort, there are questions you need to ask to make sure your dog has everything he needs:

  • Water
    Will your dog have access to clean, fresh water all day?
  • Food
    Does the boarder use a specific food or can you bring the food your dog is accustomed to eating? How often will they feed your dog?
  • Sanitation
    How often is the suite disinfected? The bedding? Is the air purified to prevent kennel cough or other airborne infections?
  • Exercise
    How often will your dog get exercise? Will he be able to run both indoors and out?
  • Social Needs
    How often will people interact with your dog? How often will your dog play with other dogs? Can your dog be kept away from specific breeds or genders of dogs?
  • Grooming
    Will your dog be brushed daily? Will the facility be able to bathe and clip your dog's coat and nails?
  • Checking in
    Do you want the sitter to check in with you on a regular basis? Does the facility have a camera that lets you watch your little buddy online or from your phone?

Packing for the Big Trip
Whether this is the first time your pet has been away from you or she's a weekly member of the kennel club, there are a number of things you should pack to ensure that her stay is happy, healthy and secure:

  • Vaccination Papers
    Most kennels and pet sitters require proof of vaccination from your vet. It's a good idea to show proof of vaccination against rabies, parvo and kennel cough. Many also require proof that your dog has been using regular flea and heartworm medications.
  • Medications
    Pack any medication that your dog needs along with clear dosage instruction. Check your dog's schedule for flea and heartworm treatments so that she doesn't miss a dose while you're out of town. In addition, be sure to pack any medication that you keep on hand and your dog might need, such as eardrops or lotion for heat spots, along with clear dosing instructions. Label every bottle with both your name and your dog's name.
  • Emergency Numbers
    In addition to your contact number, make sure your pet care provider has access to your dog's regular vet. Also ensure that there is a local person the kennel can call in case of emergency.
  • Food
    Whether the kennel offers food or not, you may want your dog to continue her regular diet. Be sure to pack enough to last your dog for the entire stay. And don't forget to pack her treats! Include any feeding instructions, such as "she only gets a treat when she sits."
  • Bedding
    Pack machine-washable bedding so that your little buddy can sleep on a familiar surface. Label each piece of bedding with your name and your dog's name.
  • Toys
    Pack durable, washable toys. Mark the toys clearly with the names of both you and the dog.
  • Familiar Scent
    Add a T-shirt that you have worn sleeping or exercising. The familiar scent will help your dog feel your presence, even if you're on the other side of the world.

For more tips on boarding a dog, check out 8 Dog Boarding Secrets. Is there anything you always make sure to pack whenever you board your dog? Let us know what it is in the comments!

Shellie Braeuner is an award-winning children's author. She earned an M.Ed from Vanderbilt in Human Developmental Counseling and has worked as a nanny for more than 25 years. She is currently working on her MFA in writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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