Choosing a Kennel for Your Dog or Cat

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Choosing a Dog KennelCall to see if the kennel can accommodate your pet. Make an appointment to visit the kennel well in advance of your scheduled holiday.

General Appearance

Following regular daily clean-up procedures, the kennel should look (and smell) neat and clean. As part of their disease control program, some kennel operators do not permit visitors in areas where animals are housed. However, kennels with a “No Visitors” policy should provide you some type of viewing window, so that you can see where your pet will be staying.


Kennels areas where your pet will stay should be free of sharp objects, harmful chemicals, and objects your pet might swallow. Sleeping quarters should provide solid dividers between your pet and the other boarders. Exercise areas should include barriers between runs high enough to prevent male dogs from urinating into adjacent runs. Surfaces should offer good traction even when wet. Firefighting equipment should be readily available.


Proper supervision is the key to good boarding. Someone who is trained to recognize the signs of illness and distress should check pets frequently during the day.


The kennel should be free of dirt, fecal accumulation, odors, and parasite infestation (flies, fleas, ticks). There should be a strict schedule of disinfecting with effective chemicals.

Health Care

1. Water: Individual containers filled with clean drinking water should be available to each animal.

2. Food: Feeding procedures vary from kennel to kennel. Some kennels supply food and others request that you bring your pet’s food when you check in.

3. Veterinary services: Ask about the procedure for obtaining veterinary service, if required. Remember that it is customary for you to be financially responsible for any veterinary care required for your pet while it is being boarded.

4. Immunization requirements: Dogs should be immunized against rabies, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus (DHLPP), and bordetella.

5. Medication policies and procedures: If your pet is taking any medication, advise the kennel operator of the nature of the problem and the type and frequency of medication. Ask if there is an additional charge for medicating.

6. Parasite control: If you live in an area in which fleas or ticks are a problem, the kennel should utilize procedures for controlling these parasites (pre-entry examinations for boarders, sprays, dips, etc.).


You should inquire into the following items that will affect the comfort of your pet:

1. Temperature control: The kennel should be able to maintain temperatures within healthful, comfortable limits for your pets.

2. Protection from the elements: Exercise areas should provide shelter from wind, rain, snow and direct sunlight.

3. Ventilation: Good ventilation (no drafts) helps minimize the spread of airborne bacteria and viruses.

4. Light: Lighting should be at comfortable levels during the day.

5. Bedding: Some kennels provide resting platforms or bedding. Others ask that you bring bedding from home.

6. Sleeping Quarters: Your kennel should provide a place for this purpose (a primary enclosure). It should be clean and dry, and roomy enough for your pet to stand up comfortably, turn around easily, and stretch out.

7. Exercise Area: Dogs should have enough space to enable them to break into a run. Exercise time will depend upon the kennel’s layout. In some kennels, dogs are allowedfree-access to their own individual exercise runs during the day. Other kennels use a ‘time-sharing’ method for scheduling exercise. In such kennels, make sure that the time allowed and the frequency of exercise periods are adequate for your dog.

8. Additional Services: Many pet owners find it convenient to schedule grooming, bathing, or training for their pets while they are in the kennel for boarding. Ask if such services are available. If you are in the process of moving, the kennel may even be able to take care of shipping your pet. Such a service can save you time and trouble, and helps ensure the safety of your pet.

Article submitted by: © Terri Perrin (Biography & Additional Information)

Article courtesy of Pet360