Guide to Choosing a Pet Care Facility

Guide to Choosing a Pet Care Facility

Your pet is a part of your family, so it is essential to find the best possible pet care facility. Whether you need to leave your pet for a day, a week, or longer, it is necessary to choose a pet facility where your pet will be safe, happy, and well cared for. The need for pet care facilities has increased significantly over the last decade as more pet owners have lifestyles that are more demanding.

Determine Your Needs

There may be a variety of reasons you need to use a pet care facility. Some of the most common reasons are:

  • Daycare
  • Training
  • Companionship / Socialization
  • Boarding

You should choose a pet care facility based your need. For example, if you are going on vacation or will be out of town on business, you need a facility that specializes in pet boarding. For those who work long hours, they may want to have their pets stay at a pet daycare where they will receive the attention they need throughout the day, rather than being home alone for 8 to 10 hours. Some pets are happier when they are able to socialize with other pets and humans, while, other pets need focused training that can only be accomplished at a professional facility.

Prepare Your Pet

Before you can bring your pet to a care facility, you need to make sure that your pet is properly prepared. Your pet should have a complete medical exam by your veterinarian. This will ensure that your pet is healthy and has no known issues that need to be addressed. If your pet takes medications, get an extra prescription so that you can keep one at home and one at the care facility, along with detailed instructions for administering it.

Your pet must be current on all shots and immunizations. You will need to get proof from your vet that your pet is up-to-date on shots, such as rabies. Your pet must also be properly licensed through your local or state government. In addition to the standard immunizations that are part of ongoing care, you should speak with your vet about any preventative care necessary. For example, dogs that will be in close contact with other dogs, such as in a boarding situation, should receive a vaccination to prevent bordetella, also known as kennel cough.

Just like humans, dogs and other pets can get the flu. Dog flu is more prevalent during certain times of the year, usually in the winter and spring months. However, the flu is extremely contagious and could cause serious illness in some animals. Discuss what, if any, preventative vaccines are available to protect your pet from illness when it will be near other pets. Gather all the veterinarian records so that you can provide them to the pet care facility. Failure to have these documents available could stall the process and keep your pet from attending the facility.

Find Local Pet Care Facilities

There are a number of different ways to locate a local pet care facility:

Your veterinarian may recommend a facility in your area that they trust.

Larger veterinarian practices or animal hospitals may offer these services.

You will also find listings for pet care facilities in the yellow pages of the phone book or online by searching “pet care facility (your city and state, or zip code)”.

Pet stores often have listings, bulletin boards, or brochures.

Your friends or relatives may have recommendations for pet care providers that they have used successfully.

If you will be taking your pet to the care facility on a daily basis while at work, you need the facility to be conveniently located. You could consider a location near to either your home or your office.

Determine which criteria are the most important to you and evaluate each facility based on your needs. Once you have narrowed your list to just two or three you should visit each of them to learn more about each one.

High Quality Pet Care

The quality of care that is provided is of utmost importance. Your pet needs ongoing care and supervision during the day, in a safe and secure environment. Your pet will need to be taken outside for several potty breaks. Your pet also requires exercise as part of the daily routine. Some facilities offer outdoor areas where your pet can run freely, while others may take your pet for a walk on a leash. Pets also need to play and interact with humans as well as with other pets. When tired, they will need to have some rest time in a place that allows them to feel safe and secure. Additionally, your pet needs regular food and water throughout the day, based on the dietary requirements you provide.

Visit the Pet Care Facility

Once you have narrowed your choices, it is time to visit each facility. It is important to view the facility and ask questions to learn more about it so you can make an educated decision. Some of the questions to ask include:

  • What are the rules and regulations?
  • How many pets stay here at a time?
  • What are the hours of operation?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many staff work here at a time? What is the ratio of staff to pets?
  • How are pets disciplined?
  • What type of exercise is provided?
  • Is the staff trained?
  • Is the facility licensed as a business?
  • Are there cameras in the facility?
  • Do you have a veterinarian nearby for emergencies?
  • How are emergencies handled?
  • Is a contract necessary?
  • What are the costs?

Your visit to the facility should include a complete tour of all the areas. Notice whether the facility is clean and tidy. It should be large enough to house the number of pets that it cares for. Take note where the pets are kept throughout the day. Although kennels may be necessary in some situations, when a facility primarily uses kennels, it could be a sign that the facility does not properly handle pets.

Visit the facility while pets are present so you can get a good idea of how they are handled. Spend some time watching the staff and how pets are treated. The facility should provide a secure environment where the pets can’t get out, so look at the environment from that perspective too. Some facilities provide plenty of stimulation for pets while others let the pets sleep all day. The best option depends on the specific requirements of your pet. Make sure the facility smells fresh. The best evaluation is often your own inspection and instinct. If a facility does not feel right to you it probably isn’t a good option.

Reviews and References

It is important to find out what other pet owners think of the pet care facility you are considering. You can search the facility name online and read the reviews, both good and bad, posted by other pet owners. You should also ask the facility to provide you with references of other pet owners who have used their services so that you can call them. While visiting the facility, if you happen to see another pet owner there, be sure to ask them about their experience with the facility and whether they would recommend them. Ask them if there is anything they would change about the service provided. This will give you an idea of any shortcomings, so that you can evaluate whether this would pertain to your needs or not. If so, you may want to talk to the manager of the facility to find out more about the topic, and see if they can make you feel comfortable enough to overcome any potential issue.

Pet Care Trial

Before you sign a lengthy or expensive contract, give them a try. Most reputable care providers will allow you to bring your pet for a trial day, although you will typically need to pay for it. The trial gives you an opportunity to find out if your pet will fit in, will enjoy the program, and will adapt to the people and other pets. After you drop off your pet, you may want to visit during the stay to observe how it is getting along. Also, when you pick your dog up, you should be able to tell if your dog is in a happy mood or is frightened or anxious. If you notice any red flags, you should consider a different provider. Remember, however, that some pets take longer than others to adjust to a new environment and routine, so you may need to extend the trial to more than one day.

Signing the Contract

Most pet care providers require you to sign a contract. Be sure to read it thoroughly and make sure that you understand all the provisions. Generally, you will be required to pay for services for a specific number of days or weeks, based on your contract. This means that you could end up paying for some days, even if your pet is not there. Finally, make sure that you are able to end the contract if the care is not working out to your satisfaction. Many times you will be required to provide a one or two week notice.

Communication and Evaluation

Once your pet is attending a pet care facility, it is up to you to ensure that the care provided meets your standards and that your pet is happy. If you find that your pet is unhappy or a conflict or problem arises, it is important to address it immediately with staff or management. Continued evaluation is necessary to ensure that your pet is properly cared for during its stay at the facility. Visit your pet from time to time during the day to see first-hand how your pet is being handled. The care and attention given to your pet should give you peace of mind knowing they are safe and happy.

DISCLAIMER: This guide is provided only for informational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for legal or other professional advice. This guide does not contain nor is it intended to provide legal or other professional advice for any specific situation and readers should not take action or refrain from taking action, based only on the information provided in this guide. Goldberg & Osborne has attempted to provide accurate and current information in this guide, but cannot and does not guarantee that the information is accurate, complete, or up to date. This guide may contain links and/or search terms that will lead to external websites as a convenience to the reader, but Goldberg & Osborne is not responsible for the content or operation of any website other than its own website. The presence of a link or a search term does not imply and is not an endorsement by Goldberg & Osborne of the website provider or the information contained on any linked website or on any website contained in search results from a search term provided in the guide.