Remain calm during check-in for a smooth transition.
By Jen Ashenfelter
In early June I posted tips for finding the best pet lodging facility for your dog or cat (click here). As you get ready for your vacation, make sure you prepare your pet for the resort experience. I’m the marketing coordinator for Doylestown Veterinary Hospital& Holiday House Pet Resort in Doylestown, PA, so I’m lucky to work for a terrific medical team and professional lodging staff who offered these helpful tips.
It’s an exciting day—you are ready for vacation and it’s time to drop your dog or cat off at the lodging resort. Even though you are looking forward to your trip, the moment you have to leave your pet in the care of others can be stressful.
Planning is essential in managing anxiety. Previously we looked at tips for choosing the best lodging facility for your pet. Now it’s time to consider a few final steps that will make the check-in process easy for you and the lodging experience fun for your pet.
Vaccinations – When you make the lodging reservation, ask the staff which vaccinations are necessary and suggested for your pet’s stay. Contact your veterinarian to make sure your dog or cat is up-to-date on vaccinations, and make an appointment if necessary.
Activities – Be sure to choose an activity package for your pet when you make the reservation. Staying active is important for health and happiness.
Medications – If your pet is on medication, be sure to provide enough medication to last the stay. Package and label according to the directions given by the staff.
Food – Many resorts will serve a veterinarian-approved food but will serve your pet’s regular diet if you provide the food. Be sure to measure, package and label plenty of food for the stay. It’s also a good idea to supply extra food, especially if your pet is involved in lots of activities.
Contact information – Provide an up-to-date list of contacts and emergency numbers as requested by the facility.
Remain calm – This is the most important tip for ensuring a smooth check-in to the lodging facility. Pets can sense when we are upset or stressed and will mirror our energy. The best thing you can do is remain calm and confident so your dog or cat will have a positive experience.
Going home – A smooth transition when returning home is also important. If the resort offers a grooming option before check-out, a nice bath and pampering is a great way to end the lodging experience. If you are lodging a puppy or young dog, then return to basic housebreaking to reinforce good behavior now that he is back home. It’s also recommended not to feed your pet a big meal after coming home. Pets who are kept busy and happy at lodging—much like a child at camp—will be sleepy, so provide small amounts of water and food for several hours until their energy returns.
These brothers enjoyed time in the play yard during their resort vacation.
Lodging is your pet’s vacation from the regular routine. Remember to research lodging resorts well-ahead of your vacation. Choose a resort which provides the best activities, level of safety, and personal care you expect for your pet. When you are organized and calm during the check-in process, you and your pet will less stressed and ready for a good time.
Hopefully our recent post Dreaming of Summer: Vacation Tips inspired you to choose an exciting destination for your summer vacation or maybe you’re anxiously awaiting your annual week at the beach—and unfortunately Fido or Fluffy can’t join you this time. What are your pet care options?
I’m not saying a relative or neighbor shouldn’t be your pet sitter—you know what’s best for your dog or cat and how solid your relationship is with the person caring for your pet. Just be careful of well-intentioned offers that may not work out the way you expected—I know from experience.
Fortunately, I’ve been working for Holiday House Pet Resort & Doylestown Veterinary Hospital in Bucks County, PA for several months, so I’ve learned a lot about pet lodging. A full-service pet lodging facility is a reliable and convenient option offering the most benefits and security, but how do you know which place is best for your dog and cat?
Finding the right boarding facility for your pets is just like considering schools for your children. From preschool to college, what do you feel are important considerations? At the top of your list might be: amenities, safety, staffing, or location.
Here are tips for finding the appropriate lodging facility for your pets.
Tour the facility. This is a must-do when looking at different resorts to board your pet. You should be able to tour the entire facility with a representative at any time, no restrictions. Ask to see the space where your dog will be lodging. Knowing that you are seeing a true picture of how the facility operates and not a staged presentation will give you confidence in the care your pet is receiving.
See the pet’s accommodations. The best situation for your dog is having a private, spacious suite that offers access to an outdoor run. Just like children, having the opportunity to go outside for a little recess is healthy for your dog. You might think a covered run to shelter your dog from the weather is best, but sunshine not only keeps your dog happy, but the warm and powerful rays naturally kill germs and bacteria in the outdoor run. Reading about the size and details of an enclosure is one thing but seeing the actual enclosure where your pet will spend the majority of time is important.
Cats can enjoy time outside of the kitty condo in the rocking chair or playing with a toy.
The facility should be warm and inviting but not necessarily look like home. Carpeting and wallboard is great for home but at a lodging facility those porous materials can harbor bacteria, bugs and germs that are not good for your pet. Hard surfaces like tile and concrete aren’t like home but they are durable and easy to clean regularly. If you think about schools, the walls are probably cinder block and the floors are tiled for reasons of safety and cleanliness. Don’t be fooled by cosmetic appearance—you want a clean facility where your pet’s wellness, health and safety are priorities!
Ask about bedding. Even though the hard surfaces are the best for cleanliness, the facility should offer bedding options to keep your pet comfortable when resting.
Understand how the facility is kept clean. Ask about the cleaning routine and disinfecting processes for the animal suites and community areas. The cleaning products should be effective and safe for the animals. Does the facility use environmentally “green” cleaning products?
Nature walks for dogs are one of the activities offered.
Find out what activities are offered. If your dog is used to going for a walk, playing with other dogs or getting lap time, why should their routine change while you’re away? You don’t want your dog to remain in a suite without proper exercise and activity for the majority of its stay. The same applies to your cat—what activities does the facility offer to cats? Studies have shown that pets with activities during a lodging stay are much happier so choose an activity package that fits your pet’s level of daily exercise and social interaction.
Climate control. Does the facility have a climate control system for the comfort and safety of the clients?
Review safety policies and procedures. Would you send your children to a school that did not have a nurse or professional staff trained in first aid and safety?It’s not pleasant to think of your pet feeling under-the-weather, but having a veterinarian available and staff trained to identify and handle medical problems is necessary for the animals and reassuring for you. Discuss the policies and procedures for medical and safety issues.
Emergency plans. Hopefully an emergency never happens but if it does, there should be plans for handling any situation. Does the facility have:
On-site staff or night checks
Security and fire protection systems
Ask about staff training and facility accreditations. OPC University is now setting the industry standards of practice for pet lodging facilities. Does the facility follow these standards? A great facility will require all personnel to receive formalized training about:
the facility and business practices,
industry standards, and receive
on-going training in pet first aid and medical issues, animal behavior, and customer service.
You want everyone at the lodging facility to be passionate about their work and to love spending time with the pets, especially your dog or cat. A happy atmosphere = a happy pet!
What has been your experience with pet sitters or a lodging facility? What’s most important to you when considering who will care for your pet while you’re away?