Dog kennels: Five top tips on how to find a someone for your pet while on holiday

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Around 3.2 million UK households welcomed a new pet in the last year due to the covid-19 pandemic forcing millions to stay home. This included 12 million dogs, three million birds and 1.5 million reptiles being welcomed into homes across the country.

While many people benefitted having an animal friend to keep them company, many will be facing the decision of who or where is the best place to watch them.

To help make the right decision, veterinary experts from Mars Petcare, Dr Angela Hughes and Dr Jo Gale have listed out key advice to consider and how to prepare your pets for their time away.

If you are considering booking a kennel, look for trusted reviews

As with anything these days, start with trusted referrals. Ask friends, look at online reviews – the same things you would do when hiring anyone.

Get the Details

Ask them about their schedules, where the animals stay and how often they get out for fresh air and exercise. Do they have access to places to run and if so, are they on their own or with any other dogs?

Some facilities take dogs on daily walks around their property – find out and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Health and safety

If relevant, ask about giving medications. If your dog has behavioural sensitivities (e.g. if they get anxious when meeting new dogs or new people), how do they handle it? Do they have requirements around vaccines?

It’s likely you will need to provide your dog’s vaccination history. If something unexpected happens, what is their emergency protocol? If there are medical issues, who on their staff is able to deal with them?

Establish as much routine as you can

Bringing your pet’s own food to a kennel is a good idea, as the fewer things that change for your dog or cat while you’re away the better. Does the kennel allow you to bring your pet’s own bed, crate or their favourite toys?

Look at the pets which are boarding there

Check out the general condition of the facility and look closely at the pets themselves. Are they happy and healthy or is there anything which concerns you?

And if you decide to opt for a family member or friend – or pet-minding agency – to look after your beloved pet while you’re on summer holiday here’s some guidance on things you should consider.

Dr Hughes says: “Cats often like routine and their own space, they do not want to be taken out of their home environment, so if you hava cat I would definitely recommend having someone come and stay at your home if you can.

“As for dogs, it depends on their personality and temperament, but if it’s a place they’re familiar with – a place they go regularly like a family member’s house, that’s a great solution.

But if they don’t usually go out of their home environment much, it’s better to keep them in it.”

For those wanting to hire a pet sitter, remember these tips:


Have your pet sitter over in advance to do a run through. Go through feedings and cleaning a litter box or feeding the fish and the daily routine the pets are used to.

Write it down!

Always leave written instructions. This is really important so that if they forget they can go back and check.

Keep it simple

If they will need five cans of cat food while you’re gone, leave out five cans on the counter. Set out any medications in a daily pill box so everything is very clear.

Plan for emergencies

Leave out all information about their veterinarians, the closest emergency animal hospital, as well as a signed letter for a veterinarian giving your carer the authority to seek help for your pet and that you will be answerable for all necessary costs, along with your mobile/cell phone number.

It’s also a good idea to write out each pet’s name and any medical history or ongoing treatment.

Do a test run for walkies

If they will be walking your dog, have them over for one or two walking sessions in advance so you can explain any issues you’ve faced and how you handle it.

Stay flexible

If you have any questions or hesitations, try it out first. Have the sitter over or do a dry run at the sitter’s home and see how your dog reacts. If it doesn’t work, go to Plan B.


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