Need Dog Boarding? Here's How to Prepare

While traveling with your dog can be fun, it isn't always possible. That’s where dog boarding is helpful.

Instead of worrying about potty breaks on long road trips or the dangers of air travel, you'll drop off your dog at a trusted place and know s/he is going to be fed, watered, walked, and medicated (if necessary) on a regular schedule - with plenty of attention!

Today, there are many pet boarding facilities, and different kinds of facilities are good for different kinds of dogs. Some are filled with luxuries and social time that will keep your active, playful, sociable dog happy. Others have round-the-clock medical staff to watch out for your pup if s/he needs medication and/or monitoring. 

In fact, if it’s been a while since you boarded your dog, you might be surprised at the amenities available in some dog boarding facilities: flat screen TV's, doggie cams so you can keep an eye on Fido, and regular play groups can keep you both happy. Here at MSAH, while we don't do TV's, doggie-cams, or play groups, we do have 24/7 medical and kennel staff to ensure your best furry friends stay healthy and happy while you're away.

What kind of facility is best for your pooch? That depends on what you want and s/he needs. Like anything, though, dog boarding requires a little preparation.


Make Reservations Early

No matter where you want to board your pup, it's important to make your boarding reservations early! This is especially true at busy times of the year, like the winter holiday season, Mardi Gras season, Spring Break, and all of summer. Good dog kennels fill up quickly, and if you want to have options, then you’ll want to start earlier than you think. For instance, here at MSAH, because we're a veterinary hospital that does boarding, too (rather than being a dedicated boarding-only facility), we have more limited space than some other places, and our space can fill up quickly. We encourage you to make your dog's boarding reservation as soon as you know you'll need it! There's nothing more frustrating than calling a few days ahead of time only to find out there's no room.

Most dog boarding facilities (including us!) will be happy to give you a personal tour so that you can see where your pup will stay, but it’s a good idea to call ahead and schedule it.


Consider Your Dog’s Preferences and Needs

If you have an active, well-socialized dog you may choose a dog boarder that offers open play time so that your dog can run and play with the other well-socialized dogs. Some dog boarding facilities also offer special beds and rooms with flat-screen televisions. When you look around your area at dog kennels, you’ll likely see many options to fit your dog's personality. 

Here at MSAH we house Fido in spacious runs, which can be shared with other dogs in the same family if everyone gets along. Additionally, we walk your dog at least 4 times a day, feed him/her on the schedule s/he's used to, give treats (if you want), give medications and/or perform medical procedures as required, monitor his/her general health, and, generally, make sure your pup is happy and healthy while you're away.

Because we're a hospital and have a large population of sick pets, we don't do play groups - there's too many health risks. However, if you have multiple dogs in your household that get along, they can play together. Additionally, you can schedule playtimes for your dog with a staff member.


Make Sure Your Dog Is Up-to-date On His Or Her Shots

Every dog boarding facility will require proof of immunization. In general, your dog will need current rabies, distemper, and bordetella (kennel cough) vaccines to board anywhere. As you may know, these are highly contagious diseases, and dog kennels require their guests to be current on their shots for everyone's protection.  If you have any questions about these, your veterinarian will be able to answer them. Always ask for the list well ahead of time, just in case you need to schedule an appointment to get caught up.

Here at MSAH, we require current vaccines for rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, leptospirosis, bordetella, and influenza. Additionally, all pets that board here must be microchipped. These requirements ensure the safety not only of your pet, but of everyone else's as well. If Fido is missing any of these vaccines (or a microchip), they can be administered when s/he arrives. If your pet has a medical reason s/he can't have all the vaccines, you'll need to make sure to bring documentation verifying the situation so s/he can board with us.


Bring Food, Treats and Medications

Some kennels supply the food while others require you to bring your own. Obviously, if your dog has special dietary restrictions, you’ll want to make the staff aware of your dog’s needs and bring food. But even if your dog doesn’t, you never know when a diet change may upset his/her tummy. It's always best to keep the diet consistent!

Here at MSAH, we're happy to feed your pet a healthy, adult dog (or puppy) food for no additional charge. If, however, your dog needs a special diet - whether it's prescription-based or not - you should bring it for him/her. We have limited space and can't stock every different kind of food, so if Fido's finicky, be sure to bring his favorite food (and treats). If you can't bring it and s/he eats a Hill's or Royal Canin prescription diet, we can feed our supply for a small additional fee.

Dogs thrive on routine, so if your furry friend has favorite treats, be sure to bring those, too - and let us know how many to give him/her and on what schedule!

Finally, you should be sure to bring all Fido's medications (if s/he has any), including heartworm preventative if s/he will be here when it's due. Medications should be clearly labeled, and you'll need to go through them with the reception staff when you check in to make sure all the directions are clearly understood.


Bring Something Familiar

Does your dog have a favorite toy(s)*? Bring it! It will smell familiar and provide a sense of security.

*Because we have drains in the kennel floors, all toys must be bigger than a coffee mug to make sure they don't cause a clog.


Don’t Prolong the Good-bye

Yes, it’s stressful leaving your pets with other people, but if you’re anxious, your dog will pick up on it and also be anxious. The best thing to do is say a quick good-bye and act cheerful when you drop off your dog. 

When you prepare ahead, you can leave your dogs in good conscience knowing they’ll be cared for and have fun on their own little vacation.  Dog boarding can be a positive experience for everyone. Your dog gets to play, rest, and have a set routine, while you know they're being well cared for at the kennel. 


If, for some reason, you're not sure if dog boarding is right for your dog, you can discuss it with your veterinarian, and they can make recommendations. 

Need to make a boarding reservation? Fill out our online form or call us! If you already have a reservation for boarding with us, you can fill out our Express Boarding Form here.



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