Boarding is usually the first option for many people who do not have someone they can depend on, for those who are uncomfortable leaving their dog with a stranger, or having a stranger come to their home. I do not blame you!!! Boarding can be a fantastic experience or a nightmare. More and more concerned pet owners are choosing to board their dog at boarding kennels. Facilities that belong to International Boarding & Pet Services Association (IBPSA) are professional pet-care providers who make a public commitment to quality pet care and subscribe to a Code of Ethics for pets in boarding and/or daycare facilities. The vast majority of dogs adapt well and enjoy their stay at the kennel. For some dogs/puppies which have not had their immunizations, extremely old dogs with chronic illnesses, very aggressive dogs, and dogs that require medication more than twice a day, you might consider boarding with your veterinarian.
Selecting a Boarding Facility:
Make sure you call around and talk to several of the facilities nearest you. Be aware that they may be under staffed. They will also have their hands full with their four legged customers, so I would not expect to get someone on the phone who can chat for a while. Stop by a boarding facility and visit with the owner and staff. Get acquainted with the people who will be caring for your pet. Ask questions and take nothing for granted. Discuss frankly any qualms you may have about boarding. They will appreciate your frankness and interest.
Health and Safety:
The experienced staff members at an IBPSA facility are trained to recognize the warning signs of potential health problems and will contact a veterinarian if they feel it is necessary. Many times it is easier for the pet care provider to detect problems than it is for the owner of the dog. It is not, however, part of the pet care provider’s job to diagnose or to prescribe. If your dog does require veterinary care while being boarded, you should be aware that you, the pet owner, are financially responsible for such care.
During boarding, it is possible that dogs might step in their stools or urine and become dirty. This can happen in the cleanest of facilities. Also, some of the finest disinfectants available for sanitizing are not always the most pleasant smelling and the odor may cling to your dog’s coat. Bathing or grooming may be a welcome solution. Make sure you understand the rate structure for all services and hours of operation. The fee for boarding includes the care of your pet, as well as the peace of mind that goes with knowing that he/she is safe and with someone you can trust.
As a responsible pet owner there are things you must attend to before bringing your dog in to board. Make certain all immunizations are current. The manager will be happy to discuss the immunization requirements with you.
Understanding the Kennel Environment:
A pet owner sometimes needs reminding that it is not beneficial to lament over the dog in the front office before leaving, nor should the suitcases come out the day before the trip. Both of these things cause the dog to be unnecessarily upset. It is important to understand the possible effects of stress on a dog. Sometimes temporary behavior changes can occur as a result of unfamiliar surroundings. While boarding, your best friend tears up the bed that has been slept in for years, or “Killer,” turns into a little lamb. Eating habits change under stress, and a dog assimilates food differently. Some eat like canaries at home and like vultures at a boarding facility. They may put on a few pounds. Others can lose weight though eating well or lose weight by not eating enough. Some dogs lose weight because they run the weight off as they charge around barking at other dogs and having a wonderful time. These dogs often leave the facility exhausted, but happy and may sleep a lot the first couple of days they are home.
Boarding Kennel Stress in Dogs:
Boarding kennel stress is real!!! Dogs become stressed the same as you and I. Putting your dog into boarding kennels can be very stressful for them. Imagine taking your child to a strange place and leaving him/her with people he/she does not know. The child will more often than not, become distressed and upset. The same thing can and does happen to dogs. Even steady dogs can become stressed when confronted by new surroundings and routine. They are introduced to strange smells and other dogs, some of which may be barking. Many kennels these days, and I am one of them, ask if your dog has been boarded before, If not, day/night stays are recommended prior to boarding to get them familiar with the process, the staff, and the surroundings. I prefer this because it allows the dog to experience the fact that you come back. By doing this, the next time your pet boards, he/she will not be so anxious. So start conditioning your dog early and be proactive. Even if you are not going away, your dog should be introduced to the boarding kennel environment.
Signs of Stress:
Signs of kennel stress can manifest in dogs in many ways:
- Aggression: Often due to fear.
- Excessive Barking & Whining: It is a sign the dog is distressed and it is also very unsettling for the other dogs.
- Loss of Appetite: Not eating due to stress and change of routine.
- Pacing & Depression: Some dogs who have never been confined to a room before may try to break out by throwing themselves against the walls or doors.
- Fireworks, Thunderstorms, Loud noises: Some dogs go into a panic which could cause vomiting or diarrhea.
- Increase in Appetite: Some dogs “Stress” eat just like humans.
- Colitis: Colitis is the inflammation of the colon. Stress colitis is real and very common. Just as the name suggests, Stress colitis is caused by situations when your dog is exceptionally anxious, distressed, change in routine, and/or change in his/her environment. Anything out of the ordinary can cause stress, although some dogs are more accepting of unusual situations than others. Common stress-inducing situations for dogs include, new additions to the household such as other pets, children or overnight guest; travel, even short trips around town; severe storms; going to veterinarian; being left alone for long periods of time; moving; or staying overnight at a boarding facility. Signs and Symptoms: Diarrhea is the main and often only symptom of colitis. It is not simply runny stool, however; it is slimy or gooey. It often contains mucus or blood. Many times a dog’s bowel movement will start out normal and then become runny. Your dog may need to relieve himself more often than usual and may display a deep sense of urgency for only a small bowel movement. Common Treatments: Because it comes on suddenly and ends as soon as the stress is resolved, treatment is not always necessary for stress colitis. You should contact your veterinarian especially if your dog is very young, elderly, or has a health condition. If treatment is necessary, your vet may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication, ask you to withhold food for a short period of time, or offer only mild foods or foods with plenty of fiber (rice).
The vast majority of dogs view their stay at the boarding facility as a vacation. Sit back, relax and enjoy your trip…..We got this!