Pet Boarding 101

Health Concerns When Boarding Your Pet

A worker at a pet boarding facility pals around with the dogs.
A worker at a pet boarding facility pals around with the dogs.
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

­Any time your pet will be exposed to other animals, you should be concerned about health issues. Before boarding your pet, make sure it's up-to-date on all vaccinations, as recommended by your ­veterinarian. Your furry friend should also be on a heartworm preventative and something to control fleas and ticks. Although most boarding facilities will require proof of vaccinations, parasite controls aren't normally checked. If your pet isn't up-to-date on this, it may bring home fleas, ticks or other health problems.

If your pet is due to receive inoculations before he is boarded, schedule the shots several weeks before your trip. This gives your pet time to build an immunity to the diseases -- you don't want to board it while its immunity is somewhat weakened. To ensure that your dog is protected while it's away from home, immunize it against rabies, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus and bordetella (kennel cough). Cats should be immunized against rabies, distemper, feline rhinotracheitis, calci virus and pneumonitis.

It's just as important to your pet that the other pets at the boarding facility are immunized as well. Ask if proof of vaccinations is required when an animal is dropped off and which vaccinations are required. Immunizations are not 100 percent effective, and the best way to ensure that your pet stays healthy is to make sure all of the other animals around are healthy as well.

Kennel cough, or Bordetella, is a concern for pets that are boarded. Kennel cough is an infection of the upper respiratory tract that is very contagious. Symptoms of kennel cough can range from mild to severe. A mild case of kennel cough results in a dry hacking cough and a watery discharge from the nose. In a more severe case, a dog will be lethargic, refuse meals, develop a fever and may even develop pneumonia. Young and elderly dogs, as well as those with compromised immune systems, have even died from kennel cough.

Signs of kennel cough usually appear between two to 14 days after the dog is exposed, and the illness typically lasts around 10 days. One of the reasons this disease spreads so rapidly is that the dog can shed bacteria and spread the disease for six to 14 weeks after he quits showing symptoms of the illness. Mild cases of kennel cough are typically treated with bronchodilators or cough suppressants. More severe cases require antibiotics.