What do you mean we aren’t going?

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How to Pick an Animal Spa or Kennel

Unfortunately, there are going to be those times when you need to go somewhere (or want to go somewhere, like your favorite summer vacation spot), and you simply can’t take your dog or cat with you. Now, you may want someone to pet-sit your pooch or moggy while you’re gone, but sometimes that’s not possible either. In that case, you’ll need the care of a professional, reputable kennel.

The operative word, or course, is reputable. You’ve heard the boarding horror stories, and here are ways to avoid them.

The first thing to do is to look for a kennel the way you’d look for a veterinarian. Indeed, your vet may be able to recommend a good place. Friends, relatives, pet shop owners and neighbors might be able to steer you to a good place that they’ve already used. You can also go on-line, check the Yellow Pages (are there still Yellow Pages?), or consult with your town’s Chamber of Commerce.

Make a list of about three kennels, then take time to visit them. If they are required to be certified by your state, make sure they have the certification, and make sure it’s up to date. In turn, they should insist that their guests are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Then, inspect the place. If they’re reputable, the staff will allow this. Things to look for:

  • There should be no smell, or the smell should be sweet like that of fresh bedding.
  • The temperature should be what you think is comfortable for your dog or cat. It should be comfortably cool in the summer or comfortably warm in the winter.
  • There should be good air circulation and lots of light, especially natural light.
  • Is there a doggie run for each canine guest? Are they weather proof?
  • When are the dogs exercised?
  • What’s the feeding schedule?
  • Are there separate accommodations for cats and dogs?
  • Are the accommodations roomy enough for a cat to stretch, turn around and lie down comfortably?
  • Is there a good amount of space between the food and water bowls and the litter box?
  • Can the staff give your pal their medications or special food?
  • Is there a vet on the premises?
  • How much will this cost? And why?

Make sure that there’s a comfortable mat for your dog or cat to sleep and walk on instead of bare concrete or wire.

How to Prepare Your Dog or Cat

Unfortunately, there’s no way to let Muffin or Barkley know that they’re going to be boarded out, though you might want to take them for a stay that lasts a day or two.

Just before you leave for the boarding place, make sure you have their contact numbers, your pet’s food, any medications and a toy or blankie that has your scent on it. When you get there, remind the staff if Buttons has any special problems, such as seizures. Then, cheerfully hand him over, say goodbye and walk out. Getting blubbery will only upset him.

Now, the Spa

A spa means nothing to your four-legged child. Wild dogs and cats find ways to keep themselves tidy. Muttley does not know that the person with the scissors, or worse, the electric clippers in their hand is there to make him look and feel better.

You may wonder why you should take your dog or cat to a spa, as grooming is part of pet care anyway? True, most people can comb or brush a short-haired animal themselves. But some with long, dense coats that tend to mat or who need medicated baths or whose owners want their fur clipped in decorative ways like poodles need to go to a professional.

Some kennels offer grooming services. It may be the one you left your best friend with the last time you took a vacation. But as with boarding out, there are things to consider before handing Ruff over.

Again, do some shopping around if the boarding place you liked doesn’t have grooming services, then visit the groomer. Ask questions about when they’re open, what services they provide and how much it costs. As with the kennel, ask to look around. If the staff’s uncomfortable with this, leave. The criteria for a spa are about the same as those for boarding out.

If this is your buddy’s first time at the spa, you can do some things to get them used to being handled. If you brush and comb them anyway, gradually make the grooming sessions a bit more intense. Slowly increase the grooming times and groom them in different places. Reward them lavishly for holding still.

As with the boarding staff, tell the groomer if your dog or cat has any special needs, and make sure that their shots are up to date. If you haven’t neutered the beastie, neuter them well before you take them to a spa. They’ll be calmer, overall.

Once again, when you leave, say goodbye and go. When you come back in a few hours, your friend will be so beautiful and clean you may not recognize them. But they’ll recognize you!


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