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How to Choose a Kennel and Other Advice
When Leaving Your Pet


When you must leave home, knowing that your pets are well cared for can ensure that you enjoy your vacation or close your business deal. After all, pets are important members of your family, and they deserve the best care available.

choose a pet kennel

Before choosing a kennel, find out how much playtime your dog or cat will get each day.

Though it may be your first instinct to ask a friend or family member to watch your pet, this is not always the best option. First, they may not want the responsibility of caring for your pet, particularly if you'll be gone for a long time. They may also not realize all that goes into caring for a pet the way a professional might.

There are two main professional options to care for your pet while you're out of town:

  1. A boarding kennel

  2. A pet sitter

What to Look for in a Boarding Kennel

A boarding kennel is a facility that can keep your pet overnight for any number of days. A reputable facility should provide plenty of playtime for your pet, regular feeding and water, treats and a comfortable place to rest and sleep.

The upside to a boarding kennel is knowing that your dog is being watched after, given attention and kept out of trouble. On the downside, your pet will likely be stressed staying in an unfamiliar environment, and could be exposed to diseases from the other animals present.

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When choosing a kennel, ask your vet, animal shelter, friends or dog trainer for a recommendation. Then check out the following:

  • Is the facility clean and comfortable?

  • Does the staff seem knowledgeable and like they care about the animals?

  • Is there enough room for your pet to move around, play and sleep comfortably?

  • How often are the pets fed? Can you provide a special diet and/or treats?

  • Are veterinary services available if necessary?

  • What happens in the event of an emergency?

  • Are cats and dogs kept separately?

  • How often are pets played with and exercised?

Be sure that you actually visit the facility ahead of time and talk with the people who run it. You should be able to get a feel for the atmosphere and the way things are run. The Humane Society of the United States also recommends choosing kennels that belong to the American Boarding Kennels Association, which helps promote professional standards of pet care.

Finally, you can always contact the Better Business Bureau to make sure there are no major complaints against the facility.

How to Choose a Pet Sitter

If a boarding kennel doesn't feel right to you, you can always have a pet sitter watch your pet right at home. You can choose to have the sitter visit your pet a few times a day, or stay overnight in your home.

The obvious benefit to having a pet sitter is that your pet gets to stay in his own home. Pet sitters can also bring in your mail, take in garbage cans, rotate drapes, water plants, turn on lights and basically make your home look lived in while you're away. On the downside, having a pet sitter means you must give your house key to someone and be comfortable with them entering your home when you're not there.

choose a pet kennel

By opting for a pet sitter, your furry friends get to stay home and enjoy their regular routine.

The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) can help you find a pet sitter near you. You should also:

  • Ask for references

  • Make sure the pet sitter has commercial liability insurance and is bonded

  • Ask what training he or she has

  • Find out exactly what services are included in each visit

  • Find out if he or she has a backup

Finally, meet with the pet sitter in person, and have him or her meet with your pet. This allows you to gauge their personality and find out whether the pet sitter and your pet will get along.

Whether or not you choose a pet sitter or a kennel, you should be sure to:

  • Put ID tags on your pet's collar

  • Leave clear instructions detailing feeding, medications and any other special information

  • Leave an emergency contact number

Ideally, try out the kennel or pet sitter on a shorter trip, such as a weekend away, first. That way you can gain peace of mind or iron out any problems right away. Once you know that your pet is in good hands, you'll be able to enjoy your time away, worry-free.

Recommended Reading

Cat and Dog Summer Safety: Be Sure to Follow These 12 Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe

Rescued Pets: What You Need to Know When Adopting a Rescued Pet


The Humane Society of the United States: Choosing a Pet Sitter

The Humane Society of the United States: Choosing a Boarding Kennel

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