What should I do if I need to put my dog into a kennel? Firstly, plan your dog's stay well in advance. Kennels become booked up very early, particularly if you need to use them during the peak holiday season. If you want your dog to stay in a good establishment, then booking early is important. Call as many kennels as possible so that you have a wide choice. If you know any dog owners, ask them if they know of any good places for your dog to stay. You could also ask the vet, dog trainer or breeder for any recommendations.
Although all UK premises are governed by the Animal Boarding Establishments Act of 1963, this act is quite vague in its requirements, so that premises vary considerably in standard.
What should I ask the owner of the kennel?
- How much will it will cost to keep your dog there?
- How much exercise will the dogs get each day? Are they exercised in a run or lead-walked, and if so how far are they taken? It is usually considered safer for animals to be exercised in a run as lead-walking increases the risk of your dog being lost.
- What are the animals fed and can you bring your own dog-food? It is best that dogs' diets are not changed since this coupled with the stress of being somewhere new could cause a digestive upset.
- How big are the kennels? Will your dog have access to an outdoor run?
- What does the kennel want to know from you: do they insist on all dogs being vaccinated? Will they want to see your vaccination certificate? Remember that if they are not strict about this then there is risk of transmission of diseases between animals. Do they insist that dogs are vaccinated against kennel cough? What is their policy if a dog is brought there coughing?
- You will need to know whether or not your dog will have physical contact with other animals. Whilst it is a good idea for dogs that live together to be kenneled together, from a veterinary viewpoint it is a very bad idea to kennel animals from separate households together, since one animal may harbour diseases that can be passed to another.
- What would the kennel do if your dog became ill during its stay? Are they covered by an insurance policy? How often do they have a really good look at the animals? Would they notice if your dog was unwell?
- If your dog is on any medication then you will need to ask whether or not the staff will be happy to administer this. It is unreasonable to expect them to treat an animal without prior warning.
- Even the best of places can lose an animal. Although this is something that does not often happen, you should ask what they would do if this occurred. Do they have a sensible set of steps that they would follow to try to recover the animal, or do they seem rather disorganised and unsure of what they would do?
If I visit the kennel before sending my dog there, what should I look for?
The dogs' living area should be airy and spacious, although the sleeping quarters need not be large since many animals prefer a smaller cosy area to sleep in. Is it warm enough? What sort of heating do they use? The premises should be clean and regularly disinfected. What sort of bedding is being used? Does it look clean? Look at the food preparation area: are there facilities for sterilising the food-bowls? How much attention do the animals receive? Many animals are inappetent when left at kennels: a bit of extra attention can help a lot with this.
What should I do when I have decided on a kennel?
Book your dog in quickly! You will probably be expected to pay a non-returnable deposit, so you must be absolutely sure that this is the kennel for your dog. When you take your dog there, bring its own blanket or cushion as this will smell of your home and provide comfort to your dog. Also if he or she has any toys then bring them too. Be sure to give the establishment a contact telephone number, or if this is not possible, the number of a relative or friend who will take responsibility for your dog should anything happen to it. Also, you should give them the name, address and telephone number of the veterinary surgeon. Remember to take your vaccination certificate, as they should demand to see it before admitting your dog.
What else do I need to know?
Before sending your dog to a kennel it is likely that responsible kennel owners will want to see your dog's Vaccination Book. therefore it is wise to have all of your dog's vaccinations up to date, including a vaccination against Kennel Cough (any Kennel Cough vaccination is only effective for 6 months. If your dog has not had one within the last 6 months they will need another one to ensure the maximum protection against contracting the disease).