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Pet Boarding 101

        Animals | Pet Travel

Different Types of Pet Boarding Facilities
A dog at a pet hotel located at Narita International Airport in Japan
A dog at a pet hotel located at Narita International Airport in Japan
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

­If you haven't been to a pet boarding facility in a while, you might be surprised at today's accommodations. While some facilities still favor the long rows of kennels -- where, for an extra fee, your pet may also have access to a small outdoor run -- improvements definitely have been made in the business of pet boarding.

If your pet is crate trained, then staying in a crate or kennel will probably make your furry friend feel ­more secure while away from home. But for pets that aren't crate trained, staying in a crate or kennel can feel like jail. Many boarding kennels realize this and have changed how they keep animals.

Some boarding facilities keep the pets in large rooms together, where the animals can interact with each other and socialize. While this may be a good choice for many pets, it comes with its risks. It's important that the person managing the kennel has experience dealing with animals that have a variety of personalities. Many cats, particularly those that are altered, will share a room with another foreign cat as long as the room is large enough and there are plenty of litter boxes. Dogs, however, present a challenge. Someone with experience can sort dogs according to size and temperament rather easily. A less experienced handler may recognize aggression and separate the dogs that have this trait. That leaves the nervous or overly submissive dog in a pack with more aggressive dogs. While no fights may result, the less dominate dog will be needlessly stressed during its stay at the kennel.

Before you decide to leave your pet at a facility that allows the animals to stay in communal rooms, visit the facility to see if the animals seem relaxed and happy. Look for any animal that seems stressed. Signs of stress in dogs include shaking, scratching, refusing to eat, avoiding eye contact and biting or growling. Signs that a cat is stressed include spraying, pacing, pulling at fur and excessive meowing.

Another way to board your pet is to leave it with your veterinarian. Many veterinarians provide this service for clients. Pet boarding is normally a secondary business for veterinarians, so vet offices may not have the most up-to-date facilities. Your pet may be in a crate all day, only taken out for several short walks by the staff. Of course this is not the case with all veterinarian facilities -- it often depends on how much of the hospital's business is made up of boarding clients.

Boarding at your veterinarian's facility can be an excellent choice if your pet has a health condition or is elderly. Although a quality pet boarding facility will be equipped to deal with emergencies, for the pet with preexisting conditions, being at the vet is a definite benefit.


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