How to Choose the Best Boarding Facility for your Pet [Part 1]

Dog and Cat BoardingLooking for quality care for your pet while you are away, having some work done on your home, or welcoming a new baby into the family?  No matter the reason, it is important for your peace of mind, and your pet’s health and safety, that you do a little homework ahead of time.

One of the best ways to finding a reputable boarding kennel is to ask other pet owners, neighbors, reputable dog trainers, or your veterinarian for a recommendation.  You may also want to do some research online to see which facilities in your area meet your requirements for your pet’s needs.  Do you have a young puppy or kitten?  Does your pet have some special health needs such as medication or diet?  Do you have a giant breed dog, or perhaps a small pocket pet?  Once you have decided on a few kennels, and confirmed that they can accommodate your pet’s needs and the dates you will be boarding, then it’s time to do some investigating.


The kennel owner and staff should take great pride in the appearance of their kennel.  The facility should be tidy, organized, and smell clean.  Ask for a tour so that you can see where your pet will be spending their time while boarding.  While some facilities do not allow visitors to come into the areas where animals are housed, there should be viewing windows allowing a visual inspection of the kennel.  Don’t be afraid of a “No Visitors beyond This Point” policy, as this is to protect the pets.  Some animals may become fearful or anxious when strangers are present causing intestinal upset, aggressive behavior, or even injury to themselves.  Good boarding kennels follow strict disinfecting protocols.  Visitors can unknowingly transport contagious agents into the kennel.


Look for secure and locked fencing where dogs are exercised, sturdy gates and dividers between runs, and separate quarters for cat boarding with secure, enclosed quarters.  The facility should be free of any sharp objects.  All toys and equipment should be in good condition.  There should be no exposure to harmful chemicals.  Pets should have their own enclosed sleeping quarters where they can relax and sleep without being bothered by their neighboring boarders.  A security system and fire fighting plans and equipment should be in place.


Be sure the kennel is clean, free of fecal matter, odor, and parasites.  There should be stringent policies on disinfection and cleaning.  All boarding pets should be given a pre-entry exam for ticks and fleas, and treated appropriately if necessary before admission.    The kennel should be regularly and safely monitoring outside and in for pest control.


Are the staff members regularly monitoring your pet throughout the day?  Are staff members trained to recognize symptoms of illness or distress?  Competent kennel staff observe and note sleeping and eating habits, bowel and urinary function, general appearance and health of the pet.  The staff should be trained to seek veterinary assistance when needed.

Ask about how often and what times of the day your pet will be walked?  Frequent walks especially after meals are important for your pet’s comfort and health.  If your pet is a cat, how often is their litter box cleaned?

How are your pet’s exercise or play sessions supervised?  Are many pets let out together, or are the play sessions more closely monitored?  Be sure that your pet is well supervised during play or exercise to prevent injury, exhaustion, or over heating.  If your pet is a cat boarder, be sure your cat has plenty of room to stretch and move around comfortably.

Food and water should be closely monitored.  Ask about the kennel’s feeding schedule.  Do they provide the food, and if so, what is the diet? Can you provide your pets food if you prefer?

Immunization should be required.  If your pet is not current, can the kennel provide the proper immunizations for your pet?

Inquire about medication policies.   Does the kennel accommodate pets on medication?  Are they able to administer and monitor your pet’s medication?  What are the additional charges for medication administration?

It is very important to know how your pet will receive veterinary care if necessary while boarding.  Some kennels are affiliated with a veterinary hospital on site and can provide services right there.  If an onsite veterinarian is not available, it is very important to give the kennel your veterinarian’s name and phone number.  Remember, you, the pet owner, are financially responsible for any veterinary care that may be required during boarding.

To be continued….

On the next installment, the following will be discussed:

  • Sanitation and Parasite Control
  • Supervision and Care
  • Other Considerations

Linda Metzler is owner of a Clearwater Florida Dog and Cat Boarding business called Metzler Pet Boarding which is part of Metzler Veterinary Hospital.

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