vet your options

Looking to leave your best friend somewhere you know he’ll be in capable hands? If your pet’s health hero has a veterinary boarding facility, you may want to sniff it out. Here are a few things to consider:

choose to vet your pet if:

  • He likes trips to the vet. (Hey, some do!)
  • He’s comfortable around new people and other pets.
  • He has a medical condition that requires special attention, like a diabetic cat who needs daily insulin injections or a senior dog who needs a little extra help getting around.

take your pet’s paws elsewhere if:

  • He freezes at the mere mention of the vet; pets who dread the doc won’t enjoy staying there.
  • Your dog is very active and craves lots of exercise; a veterinary clinic is less likely than a boarding-only facility to have large play yards, agility equipment, pools and other places for pups to run themselves ragged.

know before you go

When digging up details about boarding your pet at the vet, be sure to figure out the following:

boarding requirements

  • calling the shots: Every facility has its own policy regarding vaccines and preventives. Find out what’s required and make sure your pet is up to date.

  • chow hound: Ask if you can provide the food for your pet’s stay — and if so, how it should be packed and labeled. You’ll avoid potential tummy upset from gobbling the house grub and help your pooch feel more at home.

  • (un)tie the knot: Anxiety-prone pets may need a little practice before boarding; your vet may recommend short stays leading to an overnight trial before you leave for your trip. If your pet’s fear is too severe, the vet may suggest other options (like a pet sitter).

  • find the time: Vet boarding facilities can fill up quickly, especially around popular travel times like holidays, so start planning for you pet's stay as early before your departure as paw-ssible!

exploring the facilities

  • taking a tour: When checking out Rover’s room or your kitty’s kennel, consider size, cleanliness, comfort and safety.

  • clean sweep: Ask how often the pet rooms are cleaned, especially when accidents occur. Make sure all rooms are fully sanitized between pets.

  • check ruff-erences: An overnight stay for dogs or cats should occur only at a facility with solid references; staff should be happy to provide you with names and numbers of satisfied customers.

  • the price is right: Boarding rates can vary widely depending on where you choose to lay your pet’s paws. Depending on the size of the facility, amenities offered and geographic location, they generally cost $15–$35 a day, but some luxury accommodations can run as much as $90 a day.

pup the question

Having a handle on your pet’s itinerary can help you determine the best facility for his needs. Be sure you ask the following questions:

  • How many hours of exercise and playtime will your pet get? Generally, most dogs need 30–60 minutes of heart-pumping activities per day. Kitties may prefer cuddles or a spirited game of laser tag!
  • Who will be playing with your pet, and how often? If your pet doesn’t play well with others, ensure he can get individual attention from a human he trusts.
  • Potty breaks: where, when and how? You want to know that the schedule is compatible with how often your pup likes to “go.” See if your cat will have easy access to a litter box.
  • Can you keep in touch? Some facilities send photos or have Web cams that let you see your pet whenever you want.
  • What is the emergency protocol? If your dog gets sick or injured during his stay, is there a 24-hour veterinarian on staff, or will your dog be transported to an emergency facility?

prepping your pet

Vet boarding can be a fun way for your furry family member to make new friends — but as with anything unfamiliar, your pet may be a little nervous at first. Cats can generally benefit from a pheromone like Feliway® spritzed onto their bed to help them de-stress, and some vets offer special cat-only boarding rooms (some even sound-proofed!) to help pets fully relax.

Dogs don’t necessarily “get” that you’re on vacation, and may panic if left in a strange place unexpectedly. (He may think you’re never coming back!) The following desensitization timeline can work wonders for making your dog’s stay as happy as your vacay.

weeks before your trip

Take your pup to visit his new temporary home and let him meet, greet and sniff around. Give him lots of treats and praise during the visit to help form positive associations with the experience. Ask a staff member to walk your dog through the kennel area without you to see how he reacts to the environment when you’re not there. If your dog exhibits high levels of stress or shuts down, you may want to consider in-home pet care options instead.

week before your trip

Now it’s time for the big trial: an overnight stay! When you fetch your fur-baby in the morning, ask the staff how he did and remember to give your pooch extra love, so he knows that even when you’re on your trip, he’ll still be your top dog.

weeks before your trip

Drop your dog off for a few hours, along with a blanket and a few toys that smell like home. When you come to pick him up, it helps him know that the vet boarding facility is just a (fun!) place to visit, and that you’ll always come back for him. Give your pup a few shorter practice rounds before leaving him for an extended stay.


When it’s time for your furry friend’s stay, don’t forget to fill your pet’s doggie bag with treats and things that remind him of home to keep him comfortable. Download our handy packing checklist to help give you a head start.

Especially if your pet has health concerns that leave you questioning his vacation plans, a veterinary boarding facility could be the paw-fect solution. Talk to your vet about getting Fido or Fluffy on-board!