What are the different dog boarding options?

In no particular order, I will go ahead and tell you what I would prefer as far as boarding goes. This isn't boarding in the true sense of the word, but sometimes you need to leave town, go on vacation, or go to a funeral or something of that nature unexpectedly, and you have to leave your pet or pets with a boarding facility. I'll always encourage you to at least see if you can find somebody who can house-sit. Your pets, certainly your dogs and cats, will always be much more at ease if they're in their own environment, even if it is a different person taking care of them in your absence. The alternative would be leaving them at somebody else's house. Somebody you know and where they're going to be safe and well taken care of. I always think a home environment is preferred over a boarding facility given that chance, or if you have an opportunity to find somebody who's willing or able to do that for you.

Dr. Bob Parrish
Carolina Value Pet Care

What should I consider when boarding my dog?

There are lots of different things. Let's think in terms of when you actually need to take your dog to a boarding facility in your absence. You first want to know what vaccines your pet will require. The vaccine we recommend for any dog that's going to be boarding is rabies, which is required by law. Distemper parvo will be required. Bordetella for kennel cough will be required. The other one I'll definitely recommend is the canine flu vaccine. That's a two-shot series and an annual booster after that. Many boarding facilities don't require those, but others do. I think it's better to stay at one of those facilities where they do because, unfortunately, canine flu can be a serious threat to your dog. It is a respiratory disease that can be quickly spread. If you're unfamiliar with the canine flu, we'll be happy to talk to you more about that. There is a vaccine for two different versions of the canine flu. The first thing I'm going to want to find out is what is required of you and your pet before you even come to the boarding facility. The other thing you'll be looking for is how much space your dog will have once it's in the boarding facility. What's going to be the contact with other dogs? Is there playtime? Is there social time? Is there somebody there after hours if something happens? If a thunderstorm comes up, and if you're concerned your dog might have a fear of thunderstorms, how will that be managed in your absence?

You want to start thinking about many things since you're putting your pet in a unique and sometimes fearful situation because they're out of their comfort zone. So again, I'm going to circle back around. That's why I always recommend that you can get somebody to come into your home to stay with your pets while you're away. That's always the best and the primary consideration. Option number two will be if you have somebody who's willing to take your pets into their home. That would be my second choice.

What questions should I ask at the dog boarding facility or kennel?

What vaccines are required? Find out about playtimes and feeding schedules. Do you need to bring your own food? And the biggest question is, what about medication? If your dog is a diabetic, for example, do they have somebody on the premises who can administer an insulin injection to your pet twice a day? What about other medications? If you have difficulty trying to give medication to your dog in the first place, and they're asked to give medication to a dog they don't know, if your dog's fearful or if it doesn't do well with strangers, is that going to put them in jeopardy? So there are lots of things you need to start thinking about when it comes to boarding.

What do I need to know about boarding at a pet hotel or resort?

One of the things is cleanliness. I would always be reluctant to go someplace if I'm not able to go inside to see the facility and see the hygiene of the facility and how clean it is. I do understand a lot of places don't want strangers coming into a facility with a lot of other dogs, but it would certainly be beneficial if there is a sort of a peak behind the curtain where you can at least see how well the facility is being cleaned and taken care of. The other questions we've already talked about involve how many activities will be outside, how much interaction there is with other dogs, when the dogs are together, and if there is somebody continually monitoring them. Because unfortunately, dogs sometimes don't like one another, and they can get into fights. How do they address that? If there is an emergency, how is that going to be addressed? So, yes, there are lots of things to consider when you're going to be boarding your dog.

What do dog boarding facilities need to know about my dog?

Mostly medication. What medications is your dog currently on that need to be continued in your absence? Also, how well do they do with strangers? Is your dog very timid, or is there a risk of being very unsocial and very driven or connected to you, and it doesn't do well with strangers? How will that be an issue as far as handling it goes?

What should I bring, and how should I prepare when boarding my dog?

What to bring should be addressed by the facility before you even take your dog. They might say, bring your dog beds, don't bring your dog bed; bring your food, or we're going to take care of that; bring your medications. Those are the basic things. Every facility has its own different way of doing things. So you definitely want to have those conversations before you head out of town, so you can prepare for what to expect when you get there. Hopefully, that'll give you things to think about. It's not just a simple matter of dropping your dog off and giving it a little belly rub before you go and see it in a few days. It's a lot of things to consider because this is like your child. You want to make sure that they're going to be safe and taken care of in a clean environment.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 288-8620, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Dog Boarding - FAQs

Dr. Bob Parrish
Carolina Value Pet Care

What are some reasons not to board my dog when going away?

You have to consider the situation with your dog. If they are in high medical need and you don't think it is appropriate for somebody to take care of the dog in the way you think is in your dog's best interests. If you have a dog with special needs, understand that at the dog boarding facilities, many individuals are not trained to handle some of the situations arising with your particular pet. So keep that in consideration. Some other reasons will be if you have a very aggressive dog that may not do well with the handlers because, obviously, they have to be able to handle your dog and take them outside, or maybe they have to avoid interaction with other dogs. Also, consider if your dog is a very high-anxiety dog, and we'll talk more about that in a moment; there can be some other reasons why you may not find it appropriate to board your dog. I'm always going to circle back to the fact that if you need to leave town and leave your dog with someone or at a boarding facility, always try to see if you can get an in-house pet sitter or take your pet to somebody else's house. If you can get more in an in-home environment, that will always be less stressful and a better situation for everybody.

Will my dog be sad when I board them?

It depends on the breed. If you have a goofy golden retriever, probably not. They're probably going to be happy to make new friends. But in all honesty, yes, there will be a degree of anxiety with every dog that will be taken out of its comfort zone and out of its element around strangers. But there are those occasional dogs who do well in any kind of situation. That is one thing you are going to have to give some consideration to. If you have a high-anxiety dog or one that has separation issues from you, yes, you definitely need to be prepared to deal with that.

What do I do about dog boarding if my dog has anxiety?

Good question. Let's dig into it a little bit. If your dog has anxiety, it depends on the degree of anxiety. If it's quite profound, there are medications that veterinarians can prescribe to help reduce anxiety. If you're going to do something of that nature, I recommend starting to give the medication before going to the boarding facility. Don't wait till the day of. You want to have a loading period of a couple of days or around three days, depending on the medication. That's a discussion you'd have with your full-service veterinarian to help reduce the anxiety. There can be other ways of trying to address that. Depending on the boarding facility, they might allow you to go into the facility with your dog so they can start making that association. You're with them, and you can be there to support them with their anxiety. Again, if the dog has severe anxiety issues, that might be a situation where you can try a probiotic called Calming Care that you can add to the food. I would do it well before the visit. There's another medication called L-theanine that you can get. I do have a handout on these medications with dosages that you can look at. CBD can also be used. I'm probably going to get canceled for saying that, but you can try CBD. It definitely has a tremendous benefit for many dogs with anxiety. A lot of research is going into dosing for that, but that's another consideration.

What will the boarding facility do in case of an emergency?

I can only speak for North Carolina. I can't speak for other locations or other states, but at least in North Carolina, each boarding facility has an annual inspection. They're checking for things like cleanliness and ensuring that there are exits, the equipment is secure, and there's fresh food and fresh water available for the dogs at all times. Those inspectors take their job very seriously because the welfare of your pets is really at stake. One of the considerations with an emergency is every veterinary or every boarding facility will have a resource veterinarian, a source of a local veterinarian where there is an emergency contact. So in the event of an emergency, although every clinic or every facility does it differently, they will alert the pet parent that there is an emergency, in which case they will take the pet to that emergency clinic. Some boarding facilities will want to know who your full-service veterinarian is when you bring your pet in. If that full-service veterinarian does provide emergency care during operational hours, and if there is an emergency during office hours, they can take your dog to that clinic. There are after-hours veterinary clinics in many towns, but not every town, and for the weekend situations, if your regular veterinarian is closed, so they can always take it to an after-hours emergency clinic if need be.

What questions should I be asking a boarding facility?

The main questions would be basic stuff. You would want to know what will be in your pet's best interest, what will be the welfare situation, and how much time they are going outside. Do you need to be bringing your food? Can I bring my pet a doggy bed or a blanket of some sort? Sometimes they don't want you to bring chew toys because they're concerned that they might chew the blanket because of anxiety, and that could create some intestinal issues. So again, those are discussions you need to have. But more importantly, medications. What medications does your pet need, don't forget to bring your medications if your dog needs to be medicated in your absence. Is somebody on the premises all the time or just during certain hours of the day? How are they going to deal with emergencies? These are the sort of things you need to start thinking about if you need to board your dog.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 288-8620, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.