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Ask Lots of Questions
As a pet parent, you want to carefully, um, vet, the sitters who’ll be taking care of your furbaby. Some Qs to put on your list: Does the kennel verify that all boarders’ vaccinations are up-to-date? What would a typical day be like for your pet? Is someone manning the facility 24/7? If your pet has special needs—say, they have to be given medication—is the staff trained to handle that?
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You’ll also want to know what kind of report the kennel will keep on your pet’s stay. “Most reputable boarding facilities track animals’ eating and bathroom habits, as well as their general temperament,” says Joanna Zucker, vice president of services at PetSmart. But double-check, especially if you want a deeper level of detail (“Fluffy played nicely with the other cats this morning”).
Decide Whether You Want Any Extras
Some facilities offer serious perks, such as “video cameras that let you observe your pet remotely, onsite veterinary services in case of an emergency or doggy daycare that has an enriching environment to help your pup feel confident while separated from you,” says Ari Zabell, DVM, of Banfield Pet Hospital in Vancouver, WA. Of course, be prepared to shell out some bucks for these bennies.
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$322 vs $164
The average amount owners spend per year to board dogs vs cats.
Source: American Pet Products Association
Do a Trial Run
“Consider boarding your dog or cat for a few hours or overnight to gauge how they will respond to the environment,” says Zabell. (Not all kennels offer trial runs. If not, ask whether you and your pet can tour the facility instead.) A brief introduction can make a longer stay later less stressful for your pet. And knowing you’ve chosen the right home away from home for your pet will do you the same for you.