By A. Forrest Jones, III
While we wish we could bring our dogs with us everywhere, there are times when we just need to put a dog in the kennel. Don't worry, though. Boarding a dog isn't how it used to be. Many boarding facilities offer our pets luxuries the dogs of yesteryear could only dream about. In order to make your dog's stay more pleasant, here are some tips on prepping for the kennel.
There are often far more dogs in an area than kennels, so don't wait until the last minute to start calling dog boarding facilities, especially during the holidays. Planning ahead will also allow you to visit and compare different facilities in person.
"Free to roam" facilities are popular because they give dogs the freedom to run around, exercise and interact with other dogs. While some dog boarding facilities may offer large runs, at the end of the day, runs still restrict your pet's ability to move and mingle with other dogs.
Make sure all your dog's vaccinations are up to date, as most dog boarding facilities will require them. The vaccines which are especially important are those which protect against Rabies, Distemper and Bordetella (aka Kennel Cough). "Where any dog congregates, there is the risk of [Bordetella], an upper respiratory infection," says Dr. Jeff Werber, a Santa Monica-based veterinarian. Kennel Cough is highly contagious, so it's better to call your veterinarian to ensure your dog is vaccinated against this and other diseases.
If you haven't already done so, start your dog on a regimen of flea and tick preventives before checking him or her into the dog boarding facility. It may not always seem like it but fleas and ticks can be a problem year-round, especially when you have so many dogs in close proximity. Discuss with a veterinarian which spot-on treatments or oral medications serves your dog the best. There are even some medications which protect against both fleas and ticks for up to 12 weeks with just a single dose.
Sometimes, an abrupt change in diet that comes with putting your dog in a kennel can upset your pet and even cause colitis, an inflammation of the colon and rectum, so why not bring your own dog food? "It's something you don't want to panic when you see it but you do want to understand it," Dr. Werber says. Prepare daily portions of your dog's food in small bags or a small container and label it with the appropriate serving size.
It's also important to give the boarding facility contact information for your veterinarian, yourself and perhaps even a friend or family member that will be in the area during your dog's stay in case an emergency should occur.
Thoroughly bathe and inspect your dog once he or she returns from the dog boarding facility. You'll want to look out for signs of flea/tick bites or fighting injuries. Most kennels will have a veterinarian to treat any injuries, but a scuffle is something that cannot be ruled out. "It's a hazard, but it happens," says Dr. Werber. If anything looks out of the ordinary, call the boarding facility to see if they have any more information and consider having the dog checked by your veterinarian.