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Boarding a Cat or Dog

Going on holidays is fun but leaving behind your best friend can be stressful.  House-sitters and neighbours are often recruited to feed and care for pets but throughout WA are many reputable boarding kennels and catteries that take great pride in offering cats and dogs a holiday as well – almost like summer camp!

Preparing to board a cat or dog is not a quick decision.  Apart from having to choose a suitable establishment, pets may need to have their vaccinations brought up to date and their worm and flea treatments applied.  And owners may need some time to come to terms with the idea of being away from their best friend for a period of time.  Just like going on holiday, it all needs planning.

If a pet has not boarded before and will be staying at a retreat for a week or more, it might be a good idea to book him in for a trial.  This might be just an afternoon or overnight but will prepare him for a longer stay and will allow you to get feedback from the staff on how he coped.  In this way, you can either have your mind put at rest before heading off on holidays or make other arrangements if necessary.

When choosing a good boarding kennel, visit the establishment prior to making the booking. Have a checklist of things to look out for and ask as many questions as necessary to set your mind at ease.  The staff will be well aware of how difficult it is for an owner to leave their pet with someone else and won’t be offended should you ask even the most pedantic of questions.

A good boarding establishment will have strict guidelines on the health of pets before they are allowed to stay.  These may seem quite firm but are there to protect all pets, including your own.  In many cases, the minimum requirements are:

Pack a bag for your pet’s holiday, just as you would your own.  Familiar items from home such as bedding and toys will help him to feel safe and secure.  Remember though that bedding will need to be suitable for laundering and staff may want to approve any toys to ensure that they are safe.  Most establishments prefer to use their own food bowls however, as they are cleaned and disinfected daily and it is difficult to keep track of which bowl belongs to which pet.

It is often better to drop a pet in to a boarding kennel or cattery in the morning allowing time for the staff to settle him in before dinner time and the evening.

Whether pets board or not, it is never a good idea to have a sudden change in food.  There should always be a gradual change over period so, in the case of short term boarding, it is always better to take the food that your pet normally eats.  For long term boarding, take enough for a week to allow for a transition period.  This will also help provide a bit of familiarity for the pet as well.

A reputable establishment will have skilled staff available to administer medication should it be necessary but always speak with them prior to leaving a pet.  Along with enough medication to last the stay, provide written instructions detailing the dosage required, how and when it is to be administered and the reason for the medication.  Also leave details of the prescribing vet.  In most cases a kennel or cattery will prefer to use a pet’s normal vet but, if this isn’t possible, they will use their own.

Leaving a pet at a cattery or kennel can be a very anxious time for an owner.  They often feel a twinge of guilt and wish that they could make their best friend understand that they will be back soon.  Pets are very intuitive however and will pick up on this anxiety.  As difficult as it might be, it is important to stay calm and positive.

If you have chosen the establishment well, your pet will have a terrific time and although he will miss you, he will be well cared for and you can look forward to him showering you with love when you get home.

Although many pets really enjoy their stay at retreats, occasionally they may fret or stress, especially in the first few days.  This is evident by them not eating or using their bowels.  Most boarding establishments will have ways to deal with this which might include providing them with various food options to encourage them to eat or even administering a high vitamin supplement and appetite stimulant.  Most pets will settle in after a few days once they begin to bond with the staff and the other animals and start to enjoy the daily routines.

In general, young cats take to boarding very well and have a wonderful time with all the excitement and fun around them.  Adult cats usually display a very nonchalant attitude and prefer to sit quietly and watch the daily routines.  They don’t seem tempted to make new friends but are just happy to eat, sleep and get a cuddle from the staff.

Dogs often have a fantastic time at kennels and often receive considerably more stimulation, excitement and play than they normally would at home.  Dogs will enjoy the regular exercise and playtime and will have fun chatting with the other dogs next door.  Just like us when we get back from holidays, it will be perfectly normal for a dog to sleep more than usual once he gets back home.  After a day or so, he will be rested and back to his normal self.

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