Choosing a Boarding Facility
Whether it’s a long-awaited vacation, a last minute emergency trip, home renovations, or any number of other reasons, we all find ourselves occasionally needing to find a place to board our pets. This might be a daunting prospect…after all, it’s hard to imagine your beloved pet staying anywhere besides your familiar and comfortable home. But with a little time and careful thought, you can choose a facility that will be the right fit for your pet, and make the experience as safe, smooth, and stress-free as possible.
Here are a few important questions to ask when choosing a boarding facility:
What types of animals are accommodated?
This is especially important if you have an avian, small mammal, or exotic pet. Not all facilities are prepared to accommodate the specific needs of animals besides dogs and cats. At ACMP, we welcome a broad range of animals. We regularly board dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
What are the facilities like?
You will want to inquire regarding the specific facilities for boarding. You may ask about the size of the kennels, and whether dogs will have access to indoor or outdoor runs. If you have a cat or exotic pet, it’s important to find out whether these pets will be housed in the same area as dogs, or whether they have their own, quieter room(s). Cats and birds can become easily stressed by loud barking, so a separate boarding area for these animals is ideal. For example, at ACMP, dogs have access to both standard kennels and large runs during their stay. There are 42 indoor runs, with a separate air conditioning and heating system from the rest of the hospital. There is also an outdoor fenced-in dog walk area. In addition, we have a quiet room devoted exclusively to cats, and another devoted to birds and exotics. We also have the option of Cat Condos for our feline friends, which allows them multi-level perches and more room to exercise than a standard kennel.
What are the requirements for boarding?
It is wise to verify the facility’s requirements for boarding well in advance of your pet’s stay. That way, if you need to schedule vaccinations, you will have sufficient time. Most boarding facilities (including ours) require that dogs and cats be up to date on core vaccines, and many require a recent fecal test. Rather than seeing this as a nuisance, you should view stringent vaccine requirements as a very good sign.
The facility is upholding high standards of health and wellness for their boarders, which will help keep your pet safe from infectious disease!
What are the options for exercise? There are a wide range of exercise options amongst boarding facilities, so this is a critical question to ask. Some facilities (such as ACMP) provide time in outdoor runs to allow canine boarders regular and safe periods of exercise.
At some places, you may have the option of group playtimes for dogs. It is important to know your pet well before pursuing an option such as group playtime, as there are inherent risks of fights and injuries. Is your dog fearful or anxious of other dogs? Does he become aggressive around other pets? Even if your pet is sweet and good-natured at home, you may not be able to predict how he will respond in a new setting around unfamiliar animals. If you do opt to pursue group playtimes, be sure to ask how many dogs are interacting at one time, how closely they are supervised, and whether there is any separation based on size.
At ACMP, we now provide the option of underwater treadmill sessions for safe, fun, and stimulating exercise for our canine boarders.
What is the daily schedule?
Ask about how many times per day the animals are fed, exercised, and have their cages cleaned. It will also be helpful for you to find out if there are specific days or hours for dropping off or picking up your pet.
For example, at ACMP, our dedicated Kennel staff feed pets twice daily and clean their cages twice daily (in addition to any time they become obviously soiled). If a pet has special medical requirements and must be fed more often or at specific times, we are happy to accommodate. Your pet’s medical condition is noted in their file and on their care sheet.
What percentage of the time is an employee on-site?
Asking this question may help put your mind at ease about leaving your beloved companion. At ACMP, there is a experienced technician staff member in residence and our doctors are available to handle any medical needs. Our doctors are also on call overnight seven days a week.
Can the facility accommodate medical needs?
This is particularly important for geriatric pets, or those with acute or chronic illness or special needs. What if your pet requires oral medication, insulin injections, ear cleanings, topical medications, or even bandage changes?
At ACMP, you can rest assured that your pet’s medical needs are being diligently attended to by a competent and compassionate veterinary professional.
What arrangement is in place in case the need for veterinary care arises?
Obviously, one does not anticipate the need for emergency veterinary care during a boarding stay. But as we all know, unexpected circumstances can arise. Pets can become ill, or underlying issues may flare up during a boarding stay. It is prudent to verify what steps will be taken in case your pet needs veterinary attention while they are out of your care.
The benefit of boarding at a veterinary hospital is that your pets will have immediate access to a veterinarian without the need for transport.
Can I bring my pet’s own food or toys? Sometimes a little taste of home is just the thing to help a pet ease into a boarding stay. You may want to ask if you are permitted to bring your own food or toys. While we provide appropriate maintenance and prescription diets for our boarders, we are also happy to accommodate requests for a pet’s own food. Different facilities may have varying policies on bringing outside food and toys, so it’s good to ask. Also be aware that there is always the potential for a special toy to become lost, so you may not want to bring Fluffy’s absolute favorite!
What extra services are available?
Some facilities offer additional options, such as grooming or bathing. If you are interested in these services, go ahead and ask about them! At ACMP, we can schedule a bath before you pick your pet up, or even a more comprehensive appointment with our on-site groomer. When you return for pick-up, the only thing sweeter than being reunited with your special companion will be bringing him home clean, dapper, and freshly groomed!
With a little research into potential boarding facilities, you can be confident that you have chosen one that is the right fit for you and your pet…and that will allow both of you to enjoy the time apart as much as possible!
We strongly suggest you call ahead to make your boarding reservation at ACMP. Our reception team will answer any questions you may have and make all the arrangements you need to make your pet’s boarding feel like their own mini-vacation!