The process of boarding a pet can be more involved than it might seem. It becomes trickier when each cat and dog boarding facility in Lake City varies in their requirements prior to acceptance. Often, the better the facility, the more they will require of the pet’s medical history and proof from a veterinarian will be needed.
But before medical requirements, a pet owner should spend time researching each facility. No facility is the same, and no pet is the same. This means looking into what is offered for activities, for example how long your dog would be able to run off-leash. If you have a dog with excesses of energy, a facility which offers a lot of outdoor time is key. One facility might provide one-on-one time for your pet and another only group activities. If your dog does not like to be social with other dogs it would not be safe, for your dog, other dogs, or the staff, to force group playtime. A high-energy and social dog would become anxious if kept in too much solitude, which could turn into destructive behavior.
If your dog is prone to destructive behaviors already, or has other needs such as medical issues, allergies, medications, or even sound aversion, this must be discussed with the boarding facility. If the staff is unaware of a dog’s anxiety surrounding loud sudden noises, a thunderstorm could be dangerous for everyone, depending on how the animal copes. Maybe your dog hates thunderstorms, but you usually have a Thundershirt for them. Make sure to pack this and inform the caregivers. When the staff is properly informed, there should be minimal to no problems assisting the pet in whatever they may need.
Even for cats, the options vary from place to place. Some facilities require that if you want your cat to have toys, you must bring them. So pack that kicker-fish and a few catnip mice. Dogs benefit from their favorite toys as well, but try to provide them with a hard toy instead of plush, so that they do not destroy their stuffed squirrel in a fit of anxiety. It is also a great idea to bring the cat or dog’s usual food. Often if you don’t bring food for the duration of your pet’s stay, it will cost an arm and a leg. Though it is good to bring their own food anyway, especially for cats, because a change in environment can be extremely stressful. If you do so, it is easiest for the staff if meals are pre-portioned, and always pack extra. Keeping their food consistent and providing beloved toys with the scent of home will help reduce anxiety about a new space with new smells and unfamiliar animals.
Speaking of unfamiliar animals, be sure to ask if the cats are separate from the dogs, or if they are all in one space. This will make a huge difference in the cat’s comfort. Some facilities provide entertainment such as an aquarium for the cats, as well as bright natural light and music picked just for them. If the location is good, the cats will be lucky enough to have a window view for bird watching. But many facilities are not so lucky, or else care to this degree is pricey.
It is important to choose the best facility for your pet’s personality before thinking of what they require in terms of vaccinations. It is essential to make sure your pet will be mentally and physically comfortable. When you know that you have chosen the best facility for your pet, the focus should turn to getting them ready. This most likely involves a trip to the vet, unless they are already up to date and compliant with the requirements of the facility in question.
For dogs, the most common vaccinations required are Bordetella for kennel cough, rabies, DHLPP, and canine flu. Some boarding facilities prefer the oral administration of Bordetella vaccine, so ask your veterinarian about your options. Most often a dog will need to be at least sixteen weeks old to be admitted, due to puppies younger than this not being fully vaccinated. This means that the dog must also be finished with booster shots, and each vaccination has a minimum expiration date of one year from the date they were received. Often boarding facilities will require a fecal exam along with the vaccinations. Even though Bordetella and the canine flu are largely prevented by vaccination, it does not eliminate them. Dogs can be contagious for a few days prior to symptoms showing, so it can be difficult for a facility to control these. It is still possible for your dog, even in a wonderful facility with up-to-date vaccines, to catch something from the other pets.
For cats, the usual boarding facility vaccination requirements are rabies, feline Leukemia, and FVRCP, which covers Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia.
All of this must be made official by forms filled out and signed by the veterinarian, though more lax facilities will occasionally allow verbal confirmation over the phone from a veterinarian. But really, this all depends on the individual facility. More often than not the owner will be responsible for adequate notation from their vet’s office. Some require additional medical preparation, such as extra vaccines, flea and tick prevention, and heartworm prevention. All of this will need official proof from a veterinarian if required.
For less common pets, such as birds and ferrets and pigs, there are different requirements in terms of vaccination. The best option for ensuring proper vaccination and boarding preparation is a discussion both with the boarding facility and with the veterinarian.
When dropping off your pet for their hopefully luxurious stay, it will be made much easier by a quick goodbye. It might be difficult to leave your little angel for a weekend, knowing they will probably be scared for a while. But prolonged goodbyes increase anxiety. If we give them a quick and positive goodbye, they will have an easier transition. Coddling and fussing with your pet will trigger separation anxiety and ultimately cause unnecessary stress. Instead, be quick about it and show excitement. This way, your dog or cat or ferret will have an understanding of a positive experience to come. Or at least, they will not start out with overwhelming anxiety.