How To Tell Which Boarding Facility Is Right For Your Pet

Unfortunately, we can’t always take our pets with us everywhere we go. Sometimes, if we have no family to leave them with, a boarding kennel is the only option. How can you tell which boarding kennel is the right one? Make sure you do thorough research before leaving your pet somewhere.


Ask Questions

When trying to find the perfect boarding kennel to take your pet to, make sure to ask all the questions you possibly can. Here are some questions you can ask:


  1. What vaccines are required for boarding? – Most kennels do require your pet to be current on vaccinations. The industry is largely unregulated so some kennels don’t require vaccines to be current. If this is the case, ask how they keep animals quarantined to prevent the spread of infection. While your pet may still be susceptible to disease even if they are vaccinated, the minimum vaccines required should be:
  • Canine Distemper (dog)
  • Canine Parvovirus (dog)
  • Infections Hepatitis (dog)
  • Feline Panleukopenia (cat)
  • Feline Herpesvirus (cat)
  • Feline Calicivirus (cat)
  • Rabies (both)


  1. How often are the dogs taken outside? – It is important that a dog be let out 3-5 times in a period of 24 hours. Ask about their scheduled outside time, how often they are taken out, for how long, if they are taken out on a leash or let out in an outside pen, are they supervised or not, and how big the exercise area is. If your dog has any particular potty habits or special needs, make sure to inform them and make sure they are able to make the accommodations needed.


  1. How are the animals housed? – When asking this question, keep in mind that dogs and cats shouldn’t be kept within hearing or view of each other, and dogs should not be able to easily see each other. Most kennels will put up a barrier to prevent this, but not all. The areas where your pet will be house should be well ventilated and have enough room to move around, and if absolutely need be, be able to urinate and defecate, and cats should have a litter box. 


  1. Do the staff members play with the dogs? – Ask about playtimes, and if there are designated times that the staff members will be playing with the dogs. If you have a high energy breed or a dog who needs a little more attention, ask if they offer any extra play sessions.


  1. Can you take a tour?  – If they are not willing to give you a tour of the facility when you show up unannounced, leave immediately!


  1. Are there any additional services available? – Many boarding kennels offer other services. Some places offer things like grooming or training services. If the boarding kennel is part of a veterinary practice, they will often offer vaccines or other minor procedures.


  1. Can they accommodate animals with special needs? – This information is extremely crucial if you have a pet with special needs or even an elderly pet. If they tell you that they can, make sure to ask how they will accommodate, and let them know what kind of special accommodations your pet might need.


  1. Do they have an emergency plan? – Ask if they have a plan in the event of an emergency. This question can be especially important if you live in an area that has floods, tornados, or hurricanes. Even if you do not live in an area that is at risk for these things, fire can be an issue in any area.


  1. How far in advance do I need to schedule?  – Some boarding kennels are booked up weeks or even months in advance, especially during the holidays. Be sure to know how far in advance you need to book your pets stay and whether or not a deposit will be required when booking.


  1. Are there any breed restrictions? – Most boarding kennels don’t have breed restrictions. However, if you have an overly aggressive dog (of any breed) they may or may not be able to accommodate (if this is the case, a boarding kennel should be your last resort). If your dog shows fear aggression with strangers, make sure you let the staff know and make sure you ask how they may handle a situation like this if need be.


Stay aware of the staff’s personalities, and check out any online reviews during your research and visits. Finding a boarding kennel that suits you and your pet’s needs may take a bit of research, but it is well worth taking the time to do so.

Abi Pennavaria is a dog mom, avid veterinary volunteer, and co-author of the Saved By The Bark dog blog. She enjoys sharing tips and tricks for volunteers and animal lovers through thoughtfully researched blog posts and is working to become a veterinarian.