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Pet Boarding: How to Choose the Best for your Cat or Dog

Pet Boarding: How to Choose the Best for your Cat or Dog

With so many options available, pet owners may wonder how to choose the best boarding facility for their dog or cat. Here, our Memphis vets share some things to consider when making arrangements for your pet to ensure they are safe, happy, and healthy while you are away.

Leaving Your Pet

Whether you are leaving for a business trip for a few days or heading out for a fun-filled vacation for several weeks, you will need to find suitable care for your pet while you're away. For many pet owners, deciding on the best care for their dog or cat can be stressful and challenging. However, learning a little more about pet boarding can alleviate some of your concerns and help you choose the right boarding location for your pet.

How To Choose

While not the same as being home, boarding facilities are meant to be the next best thing for your beloved cat or dog. All boarding options should provide a safe place to stay while you're away, but other features offered can range quite a bit. From a clean, safe environment that includes lots of love and attention to summer-camp style and even pet spas—there is a wide variety to choose from when deciding on boarding your pet. To be sure you are choosing the right place for your pet's needs and personality, be sure to visit a few spaces in your area before booking so you have peace of mind that your pet will be well-cared-for.

Features & Services

Often, you can get an idea of the types of features and services a facility offers by the price. Extravagant, spa-like spaces with pampering services will likely cost more than a standard facility with spacious crates and fenced-in dog runs.

Some facilities will also offer a play space for your cat with multiple platforms, toys and posts for scratching. And dogs may be given one-on-one time with a staff member for outdoor play, walks, or swimming.

But keep in mind, more expensive does not necessarily mean better care.

Standard Services

Regardless of any additional features a boarding facility may offer, you can expect the following as standard care.

  • Spacious kennel to sleep in.
  • Time outside of the kennel to stretch and move.
  • Meals served in the kennel.
  • Time for play or walks during the day.
  • Bathroom break before bed.
  • A private crate that is clean and spacious enough for a litter box and room to stretch.
  • Staff monitoring to ensure your cat has food and water, and that their litter box is clean.
  • Clean bedding so your cat can stretch out comfortably.

Benefits of Boarding Your Pet

Some facilities, like the one we offer at Southwind Animal Hospital, can also provide veterinary care and observation, as well as administer any medications your cat or dog may need. This can be especially helpful with older pets or those that require medical attention.

Other benefits include knowing that your pet will have a daily routine with food and exercise, scheduled for the same time each day. For dogs, there is also an opportunity to socialize with others—both dogs and humans. And cats will often be spoiled with frequent visits by staff.

What to Look For in a Boarding Facility

Aside from price and features, there are other things you may want to consider when deciding on the best place to care for your pet until you return.

Pet Preferences

It's important to keep your specific pet, and their needs, in mind when evaluating boarding options. A dog that doesn't tend to do well with other dogs or is aggressive may be better suited to a kennel whereas a very social dog may be happier in an arrangement with more interaction between pets and people.

Pairing Criteria

Some boarding facilities will pair or group pets together. They may be grouped by size or age or other factors. Ask about their pairing criteria so you understand what types of pets your cat or dog might be sharing space with. Discuss your pet's personality with the staff so they can make pairing decisions that suit them best. Also, inquire how any potential fights are dealt with and ask to inspect any isolation areas where pets may be placed in the event of a skirmish.

Food Arrangements

Pets may not eat as much or as often in a boarding facility as they would at home due to separation anxiety, fear, or simply missing you. Some boarding options may offer meals as part of your pet's stay; if this is the case, ask what types of food they provide to ensure they are nutritious. You may need to request that they feed your pet their own food if they are fussy eaters. It is essential that your cat or dog has access to clean, fresh water during their stay, so be sure to ask about this as well.


Ask about the hours of supervision and who will be responsible for caring for your pet. Both cats and dogs can become very anxious when their owners leave, especially if they are in a new environment at the same time. Ensuring there is caring, qualified staff dedicated to helping your pet stay calm and comfortable will make your pet's stay more enjoyable. Some boarding facilities also have veterinarians available. If your pet needs daily medication or has any health conditions, this might be a good option for you.

Vaccination Protocols

Inquire about the kinds of vaccinations that are required for admittance. This is not only important to ensure your pet has the right inoculations to stay but also informs you of how safe your pet would be. Being in a boarding facility or kennel with multiple other animals can increase your pet's susceptibility to infections and illnesses, especially if they are stressed, which can lower their immune system. Knowing that your pet is up-to-date on their vaccinations—and all other animals are too—can alleviate some of your concerns.


In most cases, dogs should be vaccinated for Rabies, Parvovirus, Distemper, and Kennel Cough (Bacteria Bordetella/Canine Parainfluenza Virus).


Cats will need to be vaccinated for Rabies, Feline Leukemia Virus, and Cat Distemper (Feline Panleukopenia).

Access to Your Pet

Even if the boarding facility has met all the requirements for a safe, comfortable stay, you should check in on your pet occasionally. Some facilities have 24/7 live camera feeds that allow you to get a glimpse of your pet at any time. Others may arrange for video calls or regular text messages to keep you updated on how your dog or cat is doing while in their care. Regardless of the method, you should always be permitted to inquire about your pet. Also, be sure to leave contact information with the boarding staff as that would be imperative during an emergency.

Are you looking to board your cat or dog? Our Memphis vets and staff would be happy to accommodate your pet while you are away. Contact us today.

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