Going on vacation? Ten tips for selecting a pet lodge (kennel)

Blog Courtesy of West Bend Mutual

Are you going on a trip of a lifetime or a well-deserved family vacation this summer? If so, it can be both exciting and stressful. After months of preparation, there’s nothing left to do other than hop on a plane or jump in the car and go. But wait a minute! What about your family pet?

My family will be embarking on our first vacation away from our cat Toulouse. While I would love to take him with us, an eight-hour flight makes this a bit challenging. Therefore, Toulouse will be spending time at a pet lodge.

If you’re a new pet owner, figuring out what kind of care to provide while you’re gone can be stressful. For us, there were two options.

1. Leave him home alone in his natural environment and have people check in on him.

2. Take him a pet lodge/resort (kennel).

After talking with family, friends, and other pet owners, we decided to book a 10-day get-away at a pet lodge.

Once the decision was made, we felt relieved. That relief, however, was short lived once we started taking tours. In many instances, the accommodations were great for dogs, but not so great for cats.

Here are some tips to help you select the right place for your pet.

1. Get referrals. Ask your local veterinarian for recommendations. Also check online reviews, websites, and the Better Business Bureau for information.

2. Don’t wait until the last minute. For many of us, our pets are our pride and joy. You want to make sure they’re in a good place, so tour different facilities early. This will allow you to make a reservation at a place that’s right for you and your pet. We toured our pet lodge during spring break and at that time, there was “no vacancy.” Until then, the thought of “no vacancy” had never even crossed our minds.

3. Evaluate the staff. When touring a facility, pay attention to the staff you see along the way.

  • Are they knowledgeable?
  • Are they dressed appropriately?
  • Do they show compassion for the pets that are there?
  • Are they using proper handling techniques?
  • Do they have a good attitude?

4. Evaluate the facilities. The building and property should be maintained. One of the properties I toured had many potholes in the driveway. Unfortunately, for them, this turned me off right away. If they can’t maintain their property, how can they take good care of your pet? In addition, evaluate the cleanliness of the facility. You shouldn’t see and smell dirt, fecal matter, and strong odors.

5. Discuss and understand their routine. Talk to the staff to get a clear understanding of what your pet’s day will look like. Our cat is a year old so he has a lot of energy and is going to need some playtime. Some facilities may charge extra for ala carte services.

6. Discuss communication. Since this is our first trip away from Toulouse, we want to receive regular communication on how he’s doing.

7. Discuss medication policies and procedures. If your pet is taking a maintenance drug, it may be okay to board them. If they take numerous medications, it may not be feasible for the staff to provide the proper care your pet needs. You don’t want to discover this on the day you drop them off.

8. Go with your gut. Intuition is powerful. If you don’t feel good about the facility, move onto the next one. It’s important that you feel comfortable with your decision. As we do for our children, we want what’s best for our pets.

9. Comforts of home. Find out what you can bring from home and what the facility will provide to make your pet as comfortable as possible during their stay.

10. Enjoy your trip. If you’ve done your homework and picked a quality facility, your pet will be fine. Now it’s time to enjoy your trip.

For additional pet safety tips, visit the links below.

Pet-cation: Ways to help your pets cope during your absence

Ten safety tips to enjoy summer with your pet

Seven tips to make your pet’s holiday travel enjoyable and safe

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