To Board or Not to Board

Pet Health and Safety  •  Pam Karkow  •  Tuesday, May 19, 2020

It’s a dilemma my family has faced multiple times. Should we board our dog or ask a friend to watch her? Should we take her on a trip with us or would she be happier back at home? There are many factors to take into account when trying to make your decision. How old is your dog? Could she handle being checked in on a few times a day, or would it be safer for her to have around-the-clock care? Read on to learn the pros and cons of boarding and leaving your pet home with a pet sitter.

Pros of boarding

  • If you board your dog at his/her own vet, there are trained professionals there who will be able to take care of any medical needs your pet may have while you are away.
  • Most boarding facilities allow dogs time to “play” with the other guests during a supervised activity time.  Being with other dogs and people can help alleviate your pet’s stress.
  • Many boarding facilities offer a complimentary bath at the end of your pet’s stay.  If you board at your own vet, you can have your pet’s annual check and vaccinations updated during his/her stay.

TIP: Veterinarian Ann Hohenhaus recommends doing a one night trial before leaving your pet for an extended period of time.  She says, “That way, if there’s a major issue, you can bring your dog back home.” (April 2016 issue of The Vets Will See You Now, Real Simple)

Cons of boarding your pet

  • Boarding your pet exposes him/her to illnesses, like kennel cough (also known as bordetella), that can be spread by other dogs. In her blog post, Kennel Cough Nightmares Courtesy of a Boarding Facility Near You, Dr. Patty Khuly recommends that your dog be given the bordetella vaccine at least two weeks before he/she is boarded, to give the vaccination time to be effective. It’s good to know that vaccinations, like the bordetella vaccine, are covered as part of PetPartner’s Wellness Care.
  • Many pets become stressed when they are forced to be away from home without the comfort of their families.  In his PetMD blog post, Pet Boarding vs. Pet Sitting, Dr. Ken Tudor points out that stress is the biggest problem with boarding of any kind. He says, “Pets, especially cats are uncomfortable outside of their normal environment.”

TIP: Visit the facility beforehand to check for cleanliness and safety. Petfinder’s article Leaving Your Family Dog in Good Hands, recommends going elsewhere if the facility does not require all dogs to be current on vaccinations.

Pros of in-home care

  • Pets are generally less stressed when they are in the familiar environment of their own home than when they are in a boarding facility. 
  • According to Dr. Tudor, “Live-in sitters are more likely to recognize potential health problems and can arrange for the pets to be seen by a vet.”
  • A dog sitter can give your dog more one-on-one attention and offer him/her more freedom.

TIP: Ask your veterinarian, friends or family for recommendations for a reliable pet-sitter. Knowing your pet sitter comes highly recommended can set your mind at ease.

Cons of in-home care

  • Although a dog sitter can seem the less stressful choice for your pet, the wrong dog sitter can be unreliable, points out the Petfinder article Leaving Your Family Dog in Good Hands.
  • Allowing someone into your home to care for your pet poses a security risk.

TIP: Invite potential sitters over to your house before you hire. That way you can see how your pet reacts to the sitter.

The decision to board or not to board must be made on an individual basis. You know your pet best, and with our tips, can make an informed decision on what is the right plan for your beloved furry child.

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