10 Boarding Kennel Red Flags

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No matter how much we love them, we can’t take our pets with us everywhere we go. And vacation time brings with it such bittersweet feelings for us pet-parents. The excitement of the vacation and the fun times to be had on the one hand, and the worrisome thought of leaving our fur-babies behind with strangers, on the other.1

While we can’t drop all our holiday plans and stay home with our pets forever, here are a few things we definitely can do, to make sure they are safe and happy when we are away.2

Let’s take a look at 10 things that should scream a big NO, when we go kennel-hunting.

1. No Tours Allowed


No matter how good a boarding facility may look on the outside, it is important to be able to take a tour of the facility and get to see first-hand where your pet will be kept.
A reluctance to facilitate a tour, among the staff or the owner of the facility, can’t be a good sign. In fact, if they are running a good place, they should want to show it off to you, not hide it from you.

They may use excuses like random visits by strangers seem to upset the pets or you can’t be allowed inside for insurance reasons.

Just because they say that the facility houses only 40 dogs at a time, don’t just go by their word. They may be cramming two or three times that number in there, to make more money. After all, it’s quite unlikely that the animals will complain.

It’s also possible that they aren’t willing to show you the place, probably because the place isn’t kept very clean, they are keeping more than one dog in a kennel or perhaps the cages are too small.

No matter how many rave reviews the place may have, if they aren’t willing to let you inside, it isn’t a great idea to leave your pet there.

2. Shabbily Maintained Quarters


Let’s say they have agreed to let you tour the facility. But the moment you step inside, you’re hit by a wall of pet odors. Should that be a deal breaker?

Pet-parents know that accidents do happen. And a place with so many animals can’t really smell of roses. But use your instinct and judgment to determine whether the smells are just normal animal smells or from the place not being kept clean. Go by your gut feel.

A few other things that you may want to check would be – if the place is well ventilated, if the floor is kept clean and dry and if there are any visible signs of animal excreta anywhere in sight. That should also tell you how the staff is handling the cleaning of the place in general.

3. No ID Tags


It’s not just convenient, but imperative that all pets at the kennel have an identification of some sort, like a labelled collar or an ID tag.

While we can identify our pet unmistakably even amongst hundred others, the staff at the boarding place definitely can’t distinguish one yellow lab from another.

The ID tags are needed to help enable the staff to make sure someone else’s pet isn’t mixed up with yours and all pets get their required diet, exercise and medication as per their schedules and needs. You don’t want your pet to be getting someone else’s medication, for instance. The mix-up can even be disastrous.

4. Too Many Pets Too Little Space


It’s a good idea to ask the staff how many pets can the boarding place hold at a time, and try and do some rough math in your head yourself, once you tour the place.

If you see more than one pet in a kennel, do ask why they don’t have separate kennels. A couple of cages may have pets from the same household, who may find comfort in being together. But not all.

If you see many kennels holding more than one dog, you may want to rethink keeping your pet there. Putting two stressed dogs together in a cramped space is never a great idea.

5. Pet Health Records Not Asked For


Any kennel worth its salt, will want to know and ensure that your pet has been vaccinated and isn’t a potential carrier of any kind of illnesses.

If you do find a boarding facility that is lax about checking pet health records at the time of check-in, all that you need to do then is find the nearest exit.

6. Assuming There’ll Never Be An Emergency


Although we assume all will be well, accidents and emergencies are real. Pets CAN fall sick. And dogs CAN get into nasty fights.

The kennel needs to be able to tell you what they plan to do in case of an emergency. And be able to address all your concerns regarding the safety of your pet.

Here are a few pertinent questions to ask: If your pet gets sick for instance, is there a vet on call that they will reach out to? Is there a vet on site? How qualified is he? Will you be consulted for any major decisions about your pet’s health and safety? Do they have round-the-clock staffing? Or are the animals left on their own during after-hours?

7. Inadequate And Untrained Caregivers


The ideal pet to caretaker ratio should be – 1 person for 10 animals.

It isn’t practically possible for a person to be able to manage a number bigger than this. This also ensures that the pets get enough attention, exercise and affection, and at the same time makes sure that there are enough number of hands to do the cleaning and maintenance work.

And this also means that at times of an emergency, like a dog fight, or a sick pet, there are enough number of people around to be able to handle the situation.

A great added advantage would be if a kennel invests in training of its staff in pet care. Not everyone can handle animals and taking care of so many animals, looks way simpler and easier, than it actually is.

8. Not Separating Pets


Just ensuring that there is plenty of space to play and run about for the pets isn’t enough. What needs to be remembered is that all the pets there are already going through some amount of stress from being separated from their families. It becomes imperative then, that playgroups be divided based on the temperament and size of the dog.

9. No Designated Play Area


Just providing pets access to the outdoors is hardly enough. Do make sure to check if there is enough place to rest in the shade and access to clean water nearby. And, most importantly, how safe is it for your pooch who may be an escape artist. It’s important to let the facility know as well about your pet’s gymnastic capabilities so that they are watchful when he’s outside!

And it’s a good idea not to believe them if they tell you there is a play area, unless you don’t just see it, but also see dogs playing in it.

It is also important to understand how often your dog is going to be let out and if there is an extra cost for play sessions. There is of course no way to know if they really did give your pet the play sessions that they promised and charged you for.

10. No Report Card At Checkout?


A good pet boarding place, that values not just its business, but also cares about the animals it houses, will want to give you an update on how your pet fared in your absence.

They may either do it verbally or go the extra mile and give you a report on how your pet spent its time there, including details of who her best friend was, how she was eating and what she enjoyed doing the most etc.3

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Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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