It’s that time of the year again and families are preparing to go on holiday. The big question, however, is what about the family pets? According to Barry Hundley, Executive Director of the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI), there are a number of elements to take into account before deciding on a kennel or alternatively home care for your pets whilst you are away on holiday. One of the places to make your first contact with a Boarding Kennel is through www.petwise.co.za under the Pet Services section where you will find some kennels listed.
“Before deciding on a particular facility, go and see what the boarding conditions are like, look at the pets that are there at the moment and make your own choice as to which facility is the best,” says Hundley. “It is also important to prepare your dog or cat for a kennel stay – this takes a lot of planning.”
Hundley recommends speaking to the owner and manager of the facility and to make a checklist before doing so to ensure that you cover all the necessary aspects.
Pet health checks
“You will require an up-to-date pet vaccination certificate and pet health certificate from your vet as all kennels and catteries require that cats and dogs are current on vaccinations,” says Hundley. “Some pet boarding facilities also require a pet wellness certificate or pet health certificate that has been issued no longer than 10 days before the pet will be taken to the facility, stating that your pet is free from contagious diseases.” Most kennels also require that pets have a ‘kennel cough’ vaccination within the past 6 months, these vaccinations take up to 10 days to become effective so most facilities require this immunization a certain number of days prior to boarding.
“Most facilities do not require owners to supply meals for their pets but packing your pet’s normal food will serve to comfort the pet and it will prevent common food related ailments to sudden food change such as diarrhea and vomiting,” says Hundley. “In order to prevent stomach upset from eating a new brand of food at the boarding facility, measure out the pet’s normal meal size and place each serving in its own bag and seal it well.” Hundley also advises that you pack enough food for a couple of extra days, just in case, and make sure that you label each bag with the pet’s name.
If your pet requires medication, make sure that you pack this along with directions on how and when the pet usually receives this medication. If a special medicine dropper or pill shooter is used please make sure that these items are included as well.
“Sending your pet to a boarding facility already exposes them to a new and possibly frightening environment, therefore we advise that you pack some familiar items to comfort your pet,” says Hundley. “You can send the pet’s bed or blanket or even favourite toy with – just make sure you label these items carefully.”
Emergency contact details
“Make sure you leave your contact details in case of emergency but also consider leaving the name and number of a trusted friend or family member who can make decisions on your behalf in an emergency,” he says. “Also be sure that the boarding kennels has emergency contact details for your veterinarian.”
Also be sure to let your family and friends know where your pet is boarding. “Should anything happen to you while you are on holiday, someone must be made aware of where your pet is, as well as what the long term arrangements for their caretaking are.”
Boarding a pet at any time can be stressful, try and reduce stress for yourself by planning ahead for your pet’s stay and also remember that holiday season is a popular time to board pets, so make your reservations well in advance.
Boarding Kennels are often booked up early and by this time of the season you may find that there is no place at the Kennels. You can always then try ‘Home Care’.
Decide also whether an in-house care giver or boarding kennel (even if there is place available) is more appropriate for your pet as well as for yourself. “You know your pet best and would know whether they would prefer the company and activity of other pets at a kennel or whether your pet would do better in the comfort of your home and routine,” says Hundley. “You would also know whether your pet would be traumatized by the experience of being away from home.”
It can be quite difficult finding someone to take care of your pets in the comfort of their own environment but there are small businesses that offer this service, see www.petwise.co.za Pet Services.
Here is how to start your research and find the best option for your pets when away from home.
Speak to family, friends and your veterinarian to find out who they would recommend for pet care. “It is then very important to introduce your pet to the potential care giver beforehand to see how they react towards your pets and vice versa,” Hundley suggests. Most veterinary offices carry brochures or can personally recommend someone for pet home care. Your vet may also be able to assist you in the type of care that your pet would be more comfortable in.
“If deciding to use an in-home pet care giver, follow up on personal references,” says Hundley. Some things to look for are promptness, interaction with your pets, knowledge of animal care, willingness to accommodate your pet’s schedule and care needs and what protocol is followed in the event of an emergency.
Once you have determined the type of pet care needed, let your veterinarian know the name and phone number of who is taking care of your pet and also leave complete contact information of your veterinarian for the care giver and vice versa with respect to the Care Giver. “At this stage you may also want to discuss what type of payment coverage will be arranged in case of emergencies while you are away,” Hundley adds. The Emergency Contact detail as for kennel boarding is just as important to the Care Giver.
“You should discuss diet and feeding schedule in advance with the care giver,” says Hundley. “Should your pet have specific amounts of food or any other dietary needs that must be adhered to, it is best for you to pre-proportion meals in containers.” Make sure that sufficient food is left in the house for the duration of your expected holiday plus a few extra days.
Leave a written schedule for the care giver of any medications that are to be administered and perhaps before you leave have the Care Giver attend a medication session with your pet so that they can visually see how this is administered.
“Finally, create an exercise schedule for your pet to ensure they get regular walks or outdoor play and runs,” says Hundley. “These should be as close to your normal schedule as possible and will help your pet adjust to the new routine while you are away,” he concludes.