There can be many hesitations when you are considering a kennel for your dog or cat. Will they be happy? Will they be supervised and taken care of? Most importantly, will they be safe? Here are a few questions for prospective boarding kennels and some key considerations prior to boarding your pet.
1) Touring the facility
-Can you drop-in and view the entire facility prior to boarding, or do they hesitate to show you around when asked. If they do not allow drop-in tours, this is a red flag.
-Does the premise look well-maintained?
-How clean are the kennels, outdoor areas, and staff areas? Is there a pungent or foul smell when you enter the facility? Are there cleaning products readily accessible? Are litter boxes clean? Are dogs let outside for urination/defecation or left in their kennels?
-Is the facility made of sanitizable material (stainless steel, sealed concrete without cracks, or properly-sealed plastic kennels are best). Cracked un-sealed concrete and rubber cannot be sanitized. How often are kennels cleaned?
-Do they have cameras, security guards, or a security system for after-hours?
-Do they have staff on the premises 24/7 or someone that checks in periodically?
-What is the outdoor fencing like? Could a dog or cat potentially escape the premise? Ask what safeguards are in place to prevent escapees.
3) Vaccination/health status of boarding animals
-Does the kennel require proof of vaccinations (a veterinarian-signed document)? If a kennel does not require proof of vaccination, this is a red flag.
-Do they require pets to be spayed and neutered?
-Do they require ectoparasite treatment (ie flea/lice/tick preventive)?
-The more requirements they have decreases the risk of boarding an un-healthy animal. This leads to lower risk of disease transmission to your pet.
4) Feeding/watering and general comfort
-Is there a fresh source of water available 24/7? How often are bowls checked/re-filled? Are the bowls clean?
-Are they able to feed specialty diets or give medications if needed?
-Is there adequate lighting in the event of a power outage?
-What type of bedding do they provide and can it be washed/sanitized properly?
-Are the kennels large enough for a sleeping area and feeding area? Is there enough room for a litterbox while still allowing room for a sleeping/feeding area?
-Is there proper ventilation in the facility? There should never be a strong smell of animal waste or chemical cleaning products. What temperature do they maintain the facility? It should never exceed 27 degrees Celsius indoors.
-Are cats and dogs housed separately? Cats should be in their own quiet area away from dog noise and activity.
-Cats like to hide and have a vantage point – is there somewhere for them to hide in the kennel or a place to perch?
5) Outdoor areas
-Are outdoor enclosures clean and well-maintained? Enclosures should be ‘escape’ proof with double fencing maintained in good condition.
-Do they offer protection from wind, rain, and cold weather?
-Is there scheduled play/exercise time outside?
6) Staff training
-Is the staff trained in animal CPR? Is there an emergency evacuation plan in place?
-Are they trained in administering various medications if needed?
-Are there protocols in place to get your pet to a veterinarian if needed? Ask what their protocol is if there is an animal emergency.
-What is your first impression of the staff? Do they appear to genuinely care about your pet, appear knowledgeable, and appear responsible? Gut instincts should not be ignored.
-Will the facility offer to give you references (personal and professional)?
-Are they certified by a third-party such as the Better Business Bureau?
**Take home message – Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. If they are dodging your inquiries or refuse to answer, go elsewhere. Trust your intuition!
Resource for more information:
Canadian Kennel Code of Practice – https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/Code-of-Practice-for-Canadian-Kennel-Operations
Article referenced: SVMA News May 2017, Volume 52, Issue 2, Pages 18 and 19. Authors Patricia Cameron, Dr. Karen Machin, and Dr. Anne Allen.