Ask the Veterinarian: Holiday boarding for our pets

Ask the Veterinarian: Holiday boarding for our pets

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There are several boarding options for pets during the holidays.

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

No matter which holiday you celebrate this time of year there is one thing common to us all: travel. Whether we travel for a day or for over a week, this means figuring out what to do with the four-legged family members.

Bringing your pet with you

This can be as easy as loading Fluffy or Fido in the car or as complicated as figuring out how to travel by air. If traveling by air, make sure to contact the airline you plan to use first. Certain requirements include: cost of travel (do you have to pay for a full seat or just a small additional fee), health certificate (usually within two weeks of travel), vaccines and whether the airline allows you to sedate your pet for travel.

Getting a pet sitter

This can be a touchy subject as I’ve heard stories of dream pet sitters, stories of nightmare pet sitters and everything in between. Most times using a family member, friend or neighbor is the best choice. If you decide to look for a pet sitter online, make sure to set up an interview beforehand to check if the pet sitter is associated with any pet sitter associations or any state or local trade associations. An interview also gives you a chance to ask for references.

Boarding facilities

There are many boarding choices nowadays, and it can be difficult to choose which is best for you and your pet. One hopes that nothing bad will happen to our pets, but it is good to know how the facility will handle an emergency if it happens. It is best to visit the boarding facility ahead of time to check for cleanliness and orderliness, as well as find out what kind of relationship the boarding facility has with a veterinarian. 

Our boarding facility is literally attached to the animal hospital, so we have a veterinarian on premises every day (including Sundays). Other boarding facilities have a veterinarian that visits every day, and some only have a relationship with a veterinarian if your pet is injured or showing symptoms of illness. 

Additionally, when boarding at any facility, there are certain vaccines that are required by law including distemper, Bordatella (kennel cough) and rabies for dogs and distemper and rabies for cats. This may mean making an appointment with your veterinarian before dropping your pet off at the boarding facility.

Dr. Kearns and his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine.
Dr. Kearns and his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine.

I hope that this information is helpful and remember to start early in making arrangements for either a pet sitter or boarding.  The end of year holidays are the busiest time for pet boarding.

I want to wish all of the readers of this column both a safe and joyous holiday season and happy 2017. I also want to thank both Heidi Sutton and the staff of the Arts and Lifestyles section, as well as all the staff of the Times Beacon Record and affiliates for another great year.

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine.