Traveling? Tips For Boarding Your Pet

Traveling? Tips For Boarding Your Pet

As you know, we spent last weekend in St. Louis attending Geekway to the West. It’s an event we look forward to each year and book our tickets and hotel as early as possible. Scott’s Patron ticket was purchased last fall within minutes of them going on sale. At the time, we didn’t think twice about being away from home for half a week. Scott and I work hard to get ahead on our articles here while the girls make preparations for taking care of any homework or tests they’ll be missing.

Until a couple weeks ago, that’s as much as we needed to worry about. Then we adopted Tink and were reminded we had another member of the family to consider. The kids have been learning a lot from the puppy and this was another item to add to their list: boarding kennels.

If you’ll be traveling, you have a few different options on what to do with your pet but there are multiple things to take into consideration.

Are you traveling to a pet-friendly destination?

If you’re headed to visit family, going camping or on an adventure that welcomes pets, then you can consider taking your pet along with. Be sure to check for pet-friendly hotels if you’ll need lodging on your trip. Keep in mind that your pet may spend more time alone than if they were at a kennel so if you aren’t planning to spend time with your dog while traveling, it might be worth considering a boarding kennel. Also make sure you have the proper type of carrier to transport your pet in the car!

Do you have friends or neighbors who could pet sit?

We have a couple neighbors who we trusted with our bird and goldfish since they were pretty low maintenance. But a puppy is a bigger commitment. If you have an older dog with an established routine and you won’t be gone long, letting it stay home alone and having someone check it several times a day might be an option. Or perhaps your pet could take an overnight at someone’s house. Finding someone you trust to handle the task is critical.

Does your pet have all its required shots?

If option one or two don’t work and you find yourself needing to find boarding, your pet will need to have all its shots up to date. In our case, Tink only had one set of shots so she was as up to date as she could be yet not fully vaccinated. That meant we needed to have her quarantined and most kennels wouldn’t accept her since her shot series was incomplete. If you’ll need a specialized facility, contact a local animal hospital that allows boarding.

It's always difficult leaving your pet behind so finding the right kennel for boarding your pet when you travel is important. -

Does your dog need a lot of exercise?

Most kennels offer indoor / outdoor runs meaning the dogs have a safe place inside (and out of the elements) but can get fresh air and run. Others keep the dogs in an interior location then have a community area where they let the dogs out to play. If the kennel you’re thinking of using doesn’t have any space for your pet to move around, look elsewhere.

Does your pet need a specialized diet?

Be sure to ask what the kennel feeds their visitors. It can vary dramatically by facility. Some keep a variety of foods on hand from mainstream brands to veterinary brands. Most will allow you to bring your own food and treats. The kennel we utilized for boarding our dogs in California cooked chicken daily to supplement the dry dog food.

Will your pet need grooming or other vet services?

You know what? After a dog has been in a kennel, it’s likely to come home smelling less than ideal. Many kennels offer additional services such as grooming. You really should ask about it. We used to have the kennel groom the dogs before we picked them up including having their nails and rear-end cleaned up. Sooo worth it. This time, we’re scheduling Tink’s spay surgery for one of our trips. She’ll be at the animal hospital for boarding so they’ll handle the surgery along with any necessary dog medicines. If your pet needs any type of medical procedures and there’s a kennel option that is also a vet or animal hospital, then it’s worth taking care of it all at the same time.

It's always difficult leaving your pet behind so finding the right kennel for boarding your pet when you travel is important. -

What should you look for in a kennel?

Don’t be afraid to visit the facility and interview the staff. If they’re rude to you when you visit, imagine how they’ll treat your pet. A clean facility is very important. Ask for a tour. If the runs and cages aren’t getting washed down, think of it as staying in a hotel where the housekeeping staff skipped the room between the prior occupants and you. Ewww. Some kennels offer a more upscale experience with personalized play time, interaction and walks. Depending on the price and the temperament of your pet, that might be worth considering. We generally found that our attitude toward the staff impacted how our pets were treated. In other words, if we were friendly and showed that we genuinely cared for our four-legged children, the staff would utilize their down time to pay some extra attention to them without charging a fee.

What should you take to the kennel?

Once you’ve decided on a place to board your pet, make plans for what to bring with you for the stay. First and foremost, you’ll need to have an updated shot record for their files. Beyond that, consider your pet’s well-being and include items that will help it feel like it’s at home. Bring comfort items such as old t-shirts with family member scents on them, a familiar toy, some favorite treats and possibly a blanket. Make sure you bring along a garbage bag to tote it all home at the end of the stay as it will need to be laundered. If you’re opting to have them feed your own food or dispense pet vitamins or medicines, make sure you include that as well. Make sure you write your pet’s name on all the items.

Boarding your pet can be an emotionally challenging experience for everyone in the family (including the dog) so see if the kennel allows communication during the stay. I jokingly said I was going to FaceTime Tink during our trip and they said that wouldn’t be the first time a pet owner had done that. When it came down to it, I didn’t need to but the fact they provided an after-hours phone number gave me a great deal of comfort.

Don’t be afraid to let your pet vacation when you do, just plan accordingly.

What do you look for in a kennel?


About Nicole

Founder and owner of, Nicole has been involved in social media marketing since 2007. She has partnered with a number of major corporations who utilized her skills to improve their social media outreach and online presence. Nicole has worked as an ambassador for brands such as Netflix, U.S. Cellular and K'NEX, has been featured in McDonald's videos as well as Maria Bailey's book "Power Moms". Always a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) and mother of two beautiful teen daughters, if you can't find Nicole, she is probably somewhere playing board games.

33 comments on «Traveling? Tips For Boarding Your Pet»

  1. Stacie says:

    These are all important things to think about. We try to take our two boys with us whenever possible, but when we can’t, we take them to a local Doggy Hotel here in ATL. It’s super nice, so I don’t feel bad about it.

  2. Liz Mays says:

    I should definitely do some research into local options for boarding. Some of our pets do need medicine and a specific brand of food so I’d have to arrange plans for that.

  3. Kathy says:

    These are some really good tips. I know how hard it can be to find a place for your pets while you’re traveling. I think it’s really important to look around at a few places first.

  4. Lisa Favre says:

    My in-laws’ dog definitely needs lots of exercise so this is something they would have to take into consideration for him. It’s hard for them to travel but boarding is definitely something they have considered before.

  5. krystal says:

    We have two dogs and are running out of dog sitters. I need to look into boarding as an option.

  6. Jamie says:

    I have never traveled by plane with a seems like a lot of work. We usually have a friend pet sit for us.

  7. Dawn Lopez says:

    I’ve always been nervous about boarding my animals. These tips have really helped me feel better prepared when I need to leave them the next time.

  8. Sherry says:

    We are actually boarding our dog at a kennel when we go out of town for a week. We had a tour of the facility and the owner is a wonderful woman. They even offer grooming services.

  9. Jodi says:

    I’ve found this to be the biggest challenge when we want to go on vacation. Thankfully, my mom tends to stay at our house to watch the dogs. However, I don’t know how much longer that will be a viable option with her getting older and our stairs getting more difficult for her. It also tends to be the part of the trip we don’t budget for which can be really expensive!

  10. Scarlet says:

    We love to bring our dog along but it doesn’t always work out. I am actually just about to look for a sitter for him for a weekend getaway we have planned! Great tips about what to bring with them for boarding and making sure they are ready.

  11. Hector Uba says:

    Thanks for the tips on boarding a pet while traveling; they were very helpful. It’s great that you brought up having all the shots you will need. I would imagine that shots are often looked over by owners pretty frequently. My sister is planning on a trip really soon and she needs to leave her dog; I will be sure to share these tips with her.

  12. Mia Rose says:

    We have a favorite place that my dog is happy to go to. It is about 30 minutes away but it is worth it to know that he is getting walks and attention and being well cared for. Thanks for these great suggestions.

  13. James says:

    Thanks for the tips. We often have to board our dog for trips.

  14. Carol Oddy says:

    Good article on boarding your dog when you go on holidays versus having some-one dog sit while you are away. In the kennel the dog will be alone a lot of the time while having a person dog sit the dog is in familiar territory and gets a lot of attention.

    1. Nicole says:

      Thank you for the feedback, Carol. There are definitely pros and cons to each, aren’t there?

  15. kate g says:

    Great information and ideas. I’m so glad you added the part about their food. I knew someone who worked at a kennel and she told me a story about a dog who was given richer food than he was used to, he ate it so fast, he vomited. choked and died. I wouldn’t have even thought that as a possibility, assuming a kennel would know what was best, but now if I can’t find a friend to help, I take their food with me to a kennel.

    1. Nicole says:

      Oh no. That’s so sad, Kate! I have always worried about my pets when we travel and this would have been devastating.

  16. Kate g says:

    It broke my heart to hear the story too….they were all devastated as well. She said after that they required people to bring their pet’s food and treats with them because they never wanted anything like that to ever happen again.

  17. Sue E says:

    I had to pin these awesome tips! In my opinion, finding some where to board your pet is just as important as looking for a great trustworthy babysitter for your kids! Just like you said, they are members of our family that walk on four legs instead of two. I would have great piece of mind if I could call day or night to check on my pets. I would not have a good time if I couldn’t! I would find a friend or family member first before I looked into a kennel. I know they would not like to be locked in a cage. I don’t want them to suffer just because I wanted to go away! I know of a couple of my friends dogs did not do well in a cage! And it took their precious pets a while to calm down and get back to their old selves! How sad

  18. Mary says:

    I could not board my dog. Never. Goes with me or I don’t go.

  19. Debbie P says:

    We are getting a dog and I was wondering about what we will do when we travel. Thanks for the great tips.

  20. VICKIE HEITMAN says:

    I like to leave my cat at home. It’s so much easier and less stressful!

  21. Yea, these are great tips, however I wish I could see these earlier 🙁
    2 months ago, I traveled with my Bisse to visit my friend, (Bisse was a great and lovely parrot) I was sooo excited to see my friend and didn’t realize that I should water Bisse during the travel, so after 4 hours fly, Bisse died of dehydration :(…

  22. Pam Flynn says:

    These are some great tips for traveling with pets. It always worries me when I leave my pet in a kennel.

  23. Donna L Holder says:

    always have safety first

  24. William Kwok says:

    I have never traveled with my pet but these are all great suggestions. Thanks for the tips and the research. It’ll help.

  25. Tina Morris says:

    I leave my pet with a friend, I do not want to take the chance of trauma to my pet

  26. MaryEllen S. says:

    When we travel my sister comes and stays at our house. We leave movies for her and her and our dog sit on the sofa and watch movies. This is so much better than leaving our dog at a boarding place, because strangers don’t take care of her like my sister does

  27. Sandy Klocinski says:

    What to do with family pets is always a question when going on vacation. My little Chihuahua, Ice, does not do well with strange people or pets so I have to have a dog sitter come and stay at my house while I am gone. It is really important to me that he is comfortable with the sitter before I leave him with them and being in his own home helps facilitate that

  28. car Crete says:

    Traveling just messes me up completely. These are great tips; metally filing away for my next traveling week…

  29. Thomas Jameson says:

    It’s good to know that you should check with a dog boarding service to see if the type of food that they feed their guests is consistent with the diet you have in place for your pet. My wife and I have to go out of town for a few weeks for a business conference, and we want to make sure that our dog receives all the nutrients that he needs throughout the day. We’ll be sure to keep this information in mind as we continue our search for a kennel.

  30. Shayla Cademis says:

    I never knew that most boarding services will allow you to bring your own food and treats! My dog has a very particular brand of dog food that he eats, and he refuses to eat any other kind. Hopefully we can find a great boarding service in our area who will be willing to accommodate my picky dog’s dietary preferences. Thanks for the information!

  31. rentals says:

    I have learned not to dwell on the sorrows of yesterday nor project too much into the future because that is not mine to know. I try to live and enjoy each day as it comes. Thank you for this wonderful post. You are a blessing to me!
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