What should I consider when boarding my dog?

You need to consider the age and temperament of the pet. So we offer boarding here, but I would say it's not ideal for every dog. So if you have a very, very stressed dog who doesn't like being away from home, has some separation anxiety, it might be better for you to get a pet sitter. And that's the truth. They might be much more comfortable in their own home with a regular visitor or even somebody living with the pet. If it's an older dog with some arthritis, we would want to make sure that that pet has adequate bedding and that they are taken out to the yard more frequently. So things to think about, what your pet needs daily, and thinking about their personality and emotional health.

Dr. Heather Kovac
The Drake Center

What are the different dog boarding options offered at the Drake Center?

Here at the Drake Center, we do have boarding for dogs and cats. Classically, we would have somebody drop off and stay for a few days, but we also offer just day boarding. So drop off in the morning and pick up in the afternoon, or whatever time you need. And we offer packages for that. So I believe there are 10 daycare visits in a package, and then you can use that as needed. Of course, holidays, we're here for you, or we're open 365 days a year for pet boarding. We do sometimes fill up for holidays.

And then we offer a separate area for cats that's completely dog-free. So we try to keep them in their own space. We also offer puppy day boarding or puppy boarding, where they would go out to the yard more frequently; we're helping you with the potty training, the reward system, getting them used to being in a cage. The latter is very important for puppies. So it's an excellent time to reinforce that. We offer geriatric boarding, so our senior patients will get extra bedding and walks, and they might need medications given to them while they're here. So really anything that you need.

We also offer medicated boarding. So what that means is if we have a pet that, for example, is a diabetic and needs to have insulin injections twice a day, we're here for you. We're here to help you. We're all trained. They would be under supervised veterinary care. So if something did go wrong, or they weren't eating well, or they were losing weight, the veterinarian would be able to step in right away without having to transport them to another facility. This is reassuring for owners who have to travel and have pets that are on medications.

Will my dog get active and social time while boarding?

Yes. So they're taken to the yard at least three times a day, but we can do it four times a day for an added fee. As far as social time, it depends on the pet. So if you tell us, "Oh yeah, my dog loves to play with other dogs," we'll try to match them up with another dog that is similar in temperament and also friendly. But on the flip side, if you say, "Oh, please don't put them in the yard with anybody." That's fine too. So we have a fully enclosed AstroTurf area in the back of our hospital that they can run around off-leash out there. We always have an attendant with them the whole time, just in case something happened while they're outside. But we also will sometimes keep them on a leash, if you'd like us to. We'll throw the ball for them, interact with them, and give them treats. We try to make it fun when they're outside because it is hard to be in a cage. But they are in a cage overnight. They're all brought inside, so nobody sleeps outside. Everyone's in here with our lockdown security system.

What do I need to know about boarding at a veterinary clinic?

Boarding at a veterinary facility is different from a regular animal boarding facility because you're under the care of the veterinarian while you're here. So again, if they were vomiting, having diarrhea, or something like that, we would be alerted right away. We'd be able to call you and say, "Hey, the doctor should look at your dog," and take it from there. We're here to help you and help your pet in any way they need while they're with us.

What do dog boarding facilities need to know about my dog?

They need to know the temperament of the dog. And many times, they'll do a social test when you get there if it's a new facility or the first time you've been to kind of figure out the dog's personality and who they would want to get along with. And then let them know if there are any special dietary restrictions or allergies, things like that. A few of our patients are highly bee allergic, and so we'll make alerts that they are not allowed to go outside unsupervised; they're indoors during the day, instead of in our outdoor run areas, just in case a bee were to come by—some extra TLC, so nothing major. But I would say if your pet has a particular need, then you need to let them know.

What do veterinarians generally recommend for safe dog boarding?

To keep everybody safe, we have a protocol for required vaccinations. So all dogs are required to have current Distemper, Parvo vaccine, Bordetella vaccine, Rabies vaccine, and be dewormed and have a stool check once a year to check for internal parasites. We also require that all dogs be on flea control while they're boarding here. So these are safe things just to make sure nobody gets fleas or gets an infectious disease, keeping our grounds clean, and other things like that.

What should I bring, and how should I prepare when boarding my dog?

So if your dog's on a special diet, of course, bring enough food for them, plus a couple of days extra in case you were to be late to pick them up. Or, if we ran out, we wouldn't want to have to switch their diet on them. So if they're on special food, bring that. We're happy to provide the food at no extra charge. You can bring bedding, especially if it's an older dog who's laying down a lot and you want some special, thick padding; feel free to bring that along. You could bring a comfort item, a little toy, or a shirt that smells like you to help them to be more relaxed while they're here. But that's really it. We use our leashes to take them out. We have lots of bedding here. We're constantly washing their towels and bedding as necessary. So you don't have to bring any of that. But if you'd like to, we would accept it.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 456-9556, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Dog Boarding - FAQs

Dr. Heather Kovac
The Drake Center

What are some reasons why I wouldn't be able to board my dog?

So if your dog were ill, if they had an infectious disease like kennel cough, we would not accept them to be boarded because that's just not fair to the other animals that are here. So that would be one reason. If you declined to do the preventative care that we recommend, like vaccines or deworming, things like that. If you said, "No, I don't want to do that." Well, then, we have specific protocols in place, so we would say, "Well, sorry, we can't board your pet."

Will my dog be sad when I board them?

Of course, it's nothing like being at home, but we try to make it as pleasurable for them as we can. We try to interact with them and love on them just like you would. We love them as much as you do, and we try to portray that, but they are in a cage other than when they're out in the yard. So it was a little bit different than being at home, I'm not going to lie. But again, we try to make it pleasurable. We give them bedding, interactive toys, and treats. We feed them regularly. We play with them as much as we can. So, it's hard to say if they're sad, but we try our best.

What do I do about dog boarding if my dog has anxiety?

So sometimes, we do need to put these dogs on medication while they're here. They're just too stressed. They're barking all day long or jumping up and down in their cage. They might even get diarrhea from being stressed. So we recommend giving them anti-anxiety medication. And obviously, the doctor's going to prescribe what they think will work. And sometimes, there's some playing around with the dosing to find what works best for your pet. But yeah, they mustn't be stressed the whole time. That's not good for anyone, and we don't like watching them like that.

What would the boarding facility do in case of an emergency?

So if you board them here, our vets are on staff seven days a week. Now, we aren't here overnight. We're not a 24-hour facility, but if something goes wrong while we are here, the doctor's two steps away, and we're going to intervene. As far as an outside kennel type of situation, they have hospitals that they work with and wouldn't hesitate to take them to an emergency facility if needed. Of course, that would be a car ride. They would contact you and make sure you were okay with that. Yeah, I haven't had any problems with local facilities not reaching out if there is an emergency. So you just have to ask—what is the plan? What happens if my dog gets diarrhea or gets cut or gets in a fight or things like that? It's wise to know.

What questions should I ask at a boarding facility?

Well, you'd want to know what's the daily schedule. So how often are they let out? Is it cage-free or not? You might want to take a tour of the facility. We're happy to show you our facility anytime. You'd want to ask about feeding schedules; if your dog usually is going to eat three times a day, we recommend that they stay on that regimen. Try to keep it as smooth of a transition as you can. Ask what their emergency policies are. So what happens if my dog gets in a fight? Where will you take them? What veterinarian do you use? Ask those types of questions. And then are they able to provide care should they have a problem? Are they able to medicate the animal or change a dressing or things like that? You need to know what to expect should an emergency arise.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 456-9556, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.