Industry Overview: Pet Boarding

by James Florence


To ensure your pet is well cared for in your absence, it’s good to be selective when choosing a pet boarding facility. Photo: Dublin Creek Kennels, Inc. (2017)

Owning a pet is a big responsibility—after all, whether it’s a dog, a cat or another kind of animal, a pet has the distinction of being a living entity (unlike your car or house). That’s why, when you’re out of town or otherwise unable to care for yours, a pet boarding facility can be an invaluable resource. To help you prepare for bringing your pet for its boarding stay, we’ve curated the following collection of information about pet boarding, including key terms, useful tips and answers to frequently asked questions.

Types of Pet Supervision Services

Since there are several types of pet supervision services available, it’s good to know the full extent of your options.

A pet boarding facility (aka kennel) houses and cares for pets while their owners are away or can’t keep them at home for various reasons. Most kennels offer comfortable accommodations, feeding and medicine services, grooming, playtime, and socialization.

In-home supervision is a good option for pets that aren’t suitable candidates for traditional boarding services, such as elderly pets or those that experience social anxiety. Pet sitting services may consist of anything from short visits (to feed the animal and check on its well-being) to 24/7 supervision.

Daycare services are a great option for pets (usually dogs) that need extra socialization or can’t be left alone for extended periods of time. Many kennels offer daytime care for dogs of all ages and sizes, as well as dog play groups and other types of socialization.

Taxi services
Pet taxis are transportation services that shuttle pets to and from vet appointments, kennels and boarding facilities, training sessions, and other locations or appointments. Pet taxis provide a convenient means of getting your pet where it needs to go when you’re at work or otherwise unable to transport it yourself.

Tip Sheet: 3 Steps to Find a Quality Pet Boarding Facility

When selecting a boarding facility for your dog or cat, there are a few steps you should take to ensure a positive experience for them.

1. Consult
In addition to getting recommendations from friends, relatives and acquaintances, call the veterinary hospitals in your area. Veterinarians hear the good and bad about kennels from their clients, so they should be able to steer you in the right direction.

2. Research
Once you’ve consulted several sources, take the top three facilities you’ve heard about and visit their websites. Look at the scope of services each provides and see if they meet your pet’s needs. If your pet has special requirements, call and ask a facility representative if these can be met.

3. Visit
The final step is to personally visit the pet boarding facilities you’re considering. During your visit, be on the lookout for indicators of quality. Is the facility clean? Do the dogs look happy? Do they all have beds? In addition to observing the animals, observe the employees. Do they have a friendly demeanor? Are they knowledgeable? While you’re there, ask as many questions as you can about the kennel and its practices.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pet Boarding

Q: Can I bring my pet’s own food for its kennel stay?
A: Most pet boarding facilities encourage you to bring the food that your pet normally eats, as this can prevent gastrointestinal issues and keep your pet healthy and happy during its stay. Consider packing a few extra servings of food in case you’re delayed in picking up your pet or if your pet is more active during its kennel stay and needs increased servings.

Q: Does my pet need to meet certain criteria before being accepted at a boarding facility?
A: This can vary by location, but one requirement that’s standard at all pet boarding facilities is current vaccinations. All dogs need to have current rabies, Bordetella and DHLPP vaccinations, and all cats need to have rabies and FVRCP vaccinations. Also, some facilities require dogs to be neutered and pass a temperament test before they can be placed in group play.

Q: Will the facility be able to administer my pet’s medication?
A: If your pet requires pills, injections, topical ointments or other types of medication, make sure the kennel’s staff is capable of administering these. You may want to demonstrate how you give the medication, and include a schedule if your pet requires many medications or frequent administration.

Q: Does my pet need to get acclimated before their stay?
A: Some facilities require pets to visit for a day or overnight before their first extended stay. This advance visit can help your pet feel more comfortable with the facility environment, and it also lets the staff get to know your pet and its needs.

Q: Are a kennel’s fees all-inclusive or are there extra charges for playtime, feedings, medication and other services?
A: Some pet boarding facilities offer all-inclusive services for a set fee, while others offer à la carte options that have individual charges. For example, playtime with other pets and people, rounds of fetch, personal dog walking, medication administration, grooming, and special treats may be part of the whole package or may each cost extra. Ask the kennel how fees are incurred, what’s included in the flat fee and what options are available. You may find that kennels with higher flat fees but no extra charges for playtime and feedings are less expensive in the end than low-priced kennels that charge for every feeding and outing.

Q: Why choose a Diamond Certified pet boarding facility?
A: Diamond Certified helps you choose a pet boarding facility with confidence by offering a list of top rated local companies that have passed the country’s most in-depth rating process. Only pet boarding facilities rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise earn the prestigious Diamond Certified award, and American Ratings Corporation monitors every Diamond Certified company with ongoing research and ratings. Plus, your purchase is backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. Overall, you’ll feel confident choosing a Diamond Certified pet boarding facility.

Use Diamond Certified Resource to find top rated companies.

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