Choosing a Boarding Kennels

Cherrydown Vets does not recommend any particular boarding kennel or cattery but we do believe it is important that owners choose the right one for their pet. Going away and being separated can be stressful both humans and their pets, so it is important to make the right decision to minimise anxiety. As well as boarding kennels there are also a growing number of pet sitters and once again making the right choice will give you extra peace of mind while away.

In the UK all boarding kennels have to be licensed by the local council & the licence must be displayed. Premises are inspected annually and there are set standards of hygiene, kennel size etc that must be adhered to. What should be remembered is that this licence and inspection relate only to the minimum standards that are required. Many kennels exceed these standards and facilities, quality of care and hygiene vary greatly between premises.

As with many things, perhaps the best way to choose a kennels is through personal recommendation by someone you trust and who also cares for their pet. If you are not fortunate enough to have this, then it is always best to make an unannounced visit and ask for a tour of the site. This ‘spot check’ will not have been prepared for and you will likely see the premises as they can usually be found. Be suspicious if you are asked to come back on another day, or are only shown a small area. Ask about their vaccination policy – if they are a reputable kennels, they will insist on up to date vaccinations for anyone staying with them. Find out about exercise, how often it is given and where. Ask about diet and make sure they are able to cope with any special dietary needs your pet may have. If you are going away in the winter months, are pets kept in heated facilities. It is worth visiting several kennels before choosing to get an idea of what is on offer and prices.

Things you should look for when visiting are

Cleanliness – always a good standard of the care and effort put in by staff.

Enclosures – Are they secure and free from danger? Are they separated by barriers to stop spread of disease. Are they draught free, heated or air conditioned? Are water and food bowls clean? Is there sufficient space and access to a run? Do the pets staying there seem happy?

Staff – Are sufficient employed? What qualifications do they have. Are they present 24 hours a day? What medical knowledge do they have? What vet do they use? How much time do staff get to play with, exercise & socialise with the dogs?

Testimonials – Do they have a website? Are you able to speak to people that have used them previously?

Ask as many questions as you can and try to write some down beforehand so you don’t forget anything.

There is always an increased risk of infection when pets are in a boarding kennel as they are in close proximity to other animals. To reduce the risk, use a kennels where they ask to see proof of vaccination. Make sure your pet is fully vaccinated including Kennel Cough and that they are fully up to date with flea and worming treatments. If in any doubt then consult with your vet.  All kennels will be registered with a veterinary practice – If the kennels you choose is close to your own vet then it is likely you will be able to choose that your vet be contacted if required. It is important that both your vet & the boarding kennels have your current up to date contact details.

If your pet is having ongoing medication eg. diabetes, pain killers etc then you must discuss your pet’s particular requirements with kennel staff and your vet. They will want to have information about the medical history of your pet and details of all medication.

Having decided on a kennel, it is important to make your pet as comfortable there as possible. Leaving familiar things with them such as bedding, toys etc will assist. Using the same kennels each time will allow them to become more familiar with the premises and staff to again put them more at ease. If you are concerned, why not let them stay for a couple of nights before you go away for a longer period. Hopefully this will give you an idea of how they will be while you are aware.

There are many places in the UK where you can take pets and these can easily be found on the internet. Similarly, with the pet passport rules it is much easier to take your pet abroad – particularly in Europe. We will do a blog on Pet Passports and travelling abroad in the coming weeks.