It would be great if we could always take our pets with us on holiday. It’s not always possible, however. We need to plan properly when our furbabies can’t holiday with us. That means finding someone to stay with our pets or finding great boarding facilities where our pets can stay.

Cat cafeThe latter is easier said than done because while there are plenty of pet boarding facilities around, not all of them are … shall we say truly pet friendly.

As pets become more important in our lives, there are plans afoot to make our dogs and cats feel right at home in boarding facilities.

For example:

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport’s new parking facilities Park & Zoom has a nice surprise for pet guardians: it includes Bark & Zoom pet resort, pet boarding catering to holiday makers in need of pet care facilities while they’re away .

The state-of-the-art pet resort features play yards, a pet pool and grooming for cats and dogs. Services are available to the general public as well as those traveling from the airport. Taurus Academy, an Austin company with over 20 years of experience in the pet care and training industry, is slated to be managing the luxury pet facility.

The project is expected to be completed in time for summer 2016 and will take away much of the worry pet guardians face when trying to find reliable holiday care for their pets while they’re away. Good kennels are booked up months in advance, particularly for the peak holiday periods. While it’s always advisable to plan for your pets months (even a year) in advance, it’s not always possible. Sometimes an emergency crops up and you have to go away at a moment’s notice and then facilities like Bark & Zoom come in especially handy.

Not everyone is blessed with the convenience of a Bark & Zoom-like facility in their region. So if you have to find a good pet boarding facility, follow these tips.

Pre-holiday arrangements step-by-step

Your pet’s welfare and your peace of mind are two components of a good holiday that you can’t overlook. It takes effort to find a good pet boarding facility, but once it’s done you can get on with planning your holiday.

Cats peekaboo

It’s important that you do the homework by checking several different kennels or pet boarding facilities in your area. Once you’ve narrowed down the possibilities, prepare a checklist and visit the facilities. You’ll get a real feel for the place and ensure that everything on your checklist is ticked.

While you’re researching pet kennels don’t forget to ask whether they’re licensed and if they belong to professional bodies such as the Pet Care Trust.

Look for a facility that has different kennel sizes for dogs or cage sizes for cats, so that your large Great Dane has plenty of space or your three cats can be housed together.

There should be an exercise or secure relaxation area and all pets should get time to play or nap outdoors. Dog boarding kennels should provide daily walks or appropriate exercise. Find out who does the walking, where the dogs are walked and for how long. Exercise is important because it helps minimize stress in the kennel environment.

Here’s an example of a checklist you can use when assessing boarding facilities.

  1. luxury holiday boarding Are the kennels clean, well-lit, tidy and well-ventilated?
  2. Are staff members friendly, caring and experienced?
  3. Is the accommodation safe, secured and in good condition?
  4. If you’re planning a winter holiday, is there adequate heating throughout the facility?
  5. Do the pets boarding there look relaxed?
  6. What do the exercise and play areas look like? Are they big enough to accommodate your big dog’s needs if you have a big dog?
  7. Are dogs exercised together? If so, how are play partners chosen and are they supervised?
  8. How often are dogs exercised?
  9. Are cats allowed to free-roam during the day or are they confined to their cages for the duration of their stay?
  10. Is there a vet on call 24/7?
  11. If you have more than one pet can they stay together?
  12. If your pet has special needs – special diet, physical disability, medication – is the boarding facility able to cater to these requirements?
  13. Is regular grooming provided during your pet’s stay?

Remember, you don’t have to choose the first boarding facility to visit. If you don’t like a facility or something rubs you the wrong way, simply move onto the next one on your list.

Booking your pet’s place

The boarding facility should keep a written record of your contact details, your vet’s contact details, and the details of someone you trust in case of emergency. Inform staff if your pet has special requirements or medication needs, and make sure these are properly understood.

You’ll need to bring an up-to-date vaccination certificate when you check in with your pet. Don’t forget any other items your furbaby might need, like favorite toys, a blankie, bed and jersey.

If you’re going on a long holiday and you’re worried whether your pet will cope, check your pet into the facility for a day or two so she gets used to the environment and staff.

Pet sitter or boarding kennels?

Pet sitter

Consider a pet sitter if the trial run doesn’t go well or your pets are too anxious or reactive to stay in a boarding facility.

If you don’t have any friends or family available, find someone with good references as a pet sitter. They should also be familiar with your breeds (or similar breeds) and be comfortable handling pets of all sizes. Also find out if they are comfortable with different species, especially if you also have birds, rabbits and hamsters.

Don’t forget to ask them about their approach to training and behavior. You don’t want anyone who believes in pack leader and dominance or someone who uses choke chains and spray bottles. If their methodology contrasts with yours, your pets could be traumatized and develop behavior problems.

Arrange for a new pet sitter to visit your house a few times before you go away to foster familiarity. Be absolutely honest about your pets. For example, if your big dog is afraid of the cat or your little dog is lead reactive and can only walked in certain areas. You don’t want the sitter inadvertently putting your pets in an awkward situation that could result in a lot of damage. Or which could result in the sitter walking out because your misrepresented the facts.

Once you’ve covered all your bases, checked references and visited boarding kennels or interviewed pet sitters, and your mind is at ease regarding your furbabies’ welfare while you’re away, you can look forward to a well-deserved holiday.

Happy holidays and bon voyage!