For many animal owners holidays can become a stressful occasion due to the fact that they can’t always take their beloved pets away with them. A lot of the time this responsibility can fall to family, friends or neighbours but this can’t last forever and isn’t always a viable solution for people that travel regularly – eventually the guilt of constantly asking your neighbour to mind your cat while you’re away could become too much.
(This article has a bias towards dogs, but the standards applied here should be exactly the same for cats too).
This means finding good local pet accommodation is essential. But there are a few factors to consider before you just jump online and select the first place that pops up. Not all dog kennels, cat hotels or pet farms are equal. Personally I live in Sydney, Australia, and my husband and I have two dogs. Both have their own unique requirements and it’s really important for us as pet owners that these are met. Here’s why:
Lucy is an 9 year old Dalmatian, so she’s getting on in years a little, but she still loves to play, run and swim. She needs to take medication and we need to watch her weight (on the vets advice). Susu is a 5 year old Pomeranian, she is shy, loves us but can be un-trusting of others and has the potential to bite when she’s scared. We love these dogs, but they can be a handful for others to care for so choosing the best dog boarding Sydney based facility was really important for our piece of mind, but also the dog’s well-being too.
If you live in regional and rural areas you’re going to have less choices, however the majority of people searching online will find dozens of viable ‘animal hotel’ type options, ranging from cheap to glamorous, and everything in between. So how can you narrow the field and make the best choice?
These are a few basic tips that we have used when making choices in the past, hopefully these can help you too.
1. Be Vigilant on Quality
By this I mean don’t settle for anything less than the standards you have in mind. Whether it’s the cleanliness and smell of the facility when you arrive or the way they treat the animals, or even you on the phone, it all adds up to making the end product. So trust your gut on this, it’s usually right.
2. Sleeping Conditions
Given that your pet is going to spend the most time in this facility in their crate/cage/room you should see this for yourself. Take notice as to whether the shelters are cleaned, have fresh water and most importantly – that the beds are elevated off the concrete floor.
3. Try Before you Buy
This might sound odd on the surface, however many of these facilities are going to have day care options and long term boarding, so this means you can try them out before going long term. In our case, we checked our Pomeranian Susu into a Sydney dog day care centre near where we live which also offered boarding on a long term basis. Since she is our ‘high maintenance’ dog we figured if the people there handle her well and she comes back happy after a couple of days then that’s a good thing.
4. Are Your Shot’s Up to Date?
If you haven’t got up-to-date shots your pet should not be allowed into any good center. Trying to check in your pets on the day you leave for vacation when they haven’t had their shots is a guaranteed holiday wrecking formula.
5. Dietary Requirements
For us this is a big one because Lucy needs her food regulated (we use some grated carrots in her night time meals as a substitute), while Susu is a fussy eater. We needed to choose kennels that could cater to their diets and not just serve up standard issue dry feed. If your pets don’t mind, this won’t be an issue, however most should cater to special dietary instructions, so bear this in mind.
6. Play Time
This is the part of the day that most animals love. Unfortunately most facilities can only allow animals out to play and roam for a set amount of hours per day. You should ask how many hours will your pet be allowed out, how many people supervise the animals on their breaks and do they offer group or individual walks (for dogs) and one-one patting and play (for cats). This may not interest you, but it’s a sign of quality if a business offers the latter two services.
This is a list of pointers that helped us to make the right choice for our pets. For cats and other pets you should apply the same logic, because it’s all about assessing quality. The biggest point that I would re-emphasize is to trust your gut. So often we ignore our gut instinct and regret it later. If something seems fishy, it probably is, so give it a wide berth as there are plenty of good companies out there for you to choose from.
Australian based readers can find a tonne of pet accommodation options in the Yellow Pages online under the dog/cat/or even rabbit boarding options.
Anne-Marie Lynn is an Australian based affiliate of M2pets. She loves to walk her two dogs Lucy and Susu along Sydney’s northern beaches in the evenings and her favourite movie is When Harry Met Sally. Her favourite quote is from Oprah Winfrey “I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity”.