How to Prep for a Pet’s Holiday Stay at a Kennel: Checklist for Dog Owners and Cat Owners Bringing a Pet to the Kennel

The holiday season – the period of time spanning Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years – is a very busy travel season, and this lands many cats, dogs and other pets in a kennel, cattery, dog hotel, cat hotel or other form of pet boarding facility.

For pet owners who opt to board a cat or dog at a kennel or other pet boarding facility this holiday season, it’s important to understand that there is a good amount of planning required to prepare the pet for a kennel stay.

The following holiday pet boarding checklist will serve as a perfect guide for pet owners who need to prepare for a pet’s stay at a kennel or boarding facility.

Get a Pet Vaccination Certificate and Pet Health Certificate from the Veterinarian

All kennels and catteries require that cats, dogs and other pets are current on vaccinations. Pet owners must get a certificate from the veterinarian indicating that a dog, cat, ferret or other pet is up-to-date on his/her vaccinations. Some pet boarding facilities also require a pet wellness certificate or pet health certificate (issued within 10 days of the pet’s stay, in most cases), stating that the pet is free from contagious diseases.

Most kennels also require that pets have a bordatella (kennel cough) vaccination within the past six months. Bordatella vaccinations usually take up to 10 days to become effective, so most pet hotels and kennels require that pets get a kennel cough immunization a certain number of days prior to boarding.

Measure out and Pack the Pet’s Food

Most kennels and pet hotels do not require pet owners to pack meals for their pet, but packing the pet’s normal food will serve to comfort the pet and to prevent the diarrhea, inappetence and vomiting that’s common in pets who try a new brand of food.

To prevent stomach upset from eating a new food at the dog hotel or cat boarding facility, measure out the pet’s normal meal size and place each serving in its own zip-lock sandwich bag. Pack a couple extra day’s worth of food, just in case. Label each bag with the pet’s name (first and last).

Pack the Pet’s Medication

If a pet requires medication, pack the medication, along with directions on how and when the pet usually receives his or her medicine.

If a special medicine dropper, pill shooter or other item (like peanut butter, often used to hide pills when giving medication to pets) is routinely used to give medications to a pet, then these items should be included as well.

Pack the Pet’s Bed and/or Blanket, Pet Toys and Pet Treats

Sending a cat, dog or other pet to a pet hotel, cattery, kennel or other pet boarding facility can be a frightening experience for the animal. It is comforting to the pet to have familiar items that smell like home. So send the pet with his pet bed or a blanket that smells like home. Label these items (with the pet’s first and last name) with an iron-on tag or permanent marker.

If the pet has a favorite toy or a treat that he enjoys, these items can be packed as well.

Bring A Emergency Contact Information

Pet owners should be sure to bring along emergency contact information, such as the number of the hotel or other travel destination. Also consider providing the name and phone number of a trusted family member or friend who can make decisions on the pet owner’s behalf in the event of an emergency.

Boarding a pet during the holiday travel season can be stressful. Reduce stress by planning ahead for a pet’s stay at a kennel, cattery, dog hotel, cat hotel or other animal boarding facility. Also remember that the holiday season is a popular time to board pets, so make reservations for a pet’s stay well in advance.

Dog owners, cat owners and other animal lovers may also want to consider hiring a pet sitter, which will allow the pet to stay in the comfort of his/her home.