Finding the Best Boarding Option for Your Canine or Feline Family Member

Dr. Kloer of the Leesburg Veterinary Hospital gives her advice for finding the best type of boarding for your cat or dog for your next trip.

Javier Brosch/ (Making sure your pet is taken care of when you travel is sometimes the hardest part of traveling.)

Written by: Shelby Robinson

When many pet owners plan a trip, their excitement is often quickly overshadowed by anxiety concerning what to do with their fur-covered children. It would be too much to ask a friend or family member to come check on the pets three times per day, but once or twice per day just is not enough. So it’s time to look into commercial alternatives, but where to start? Dr. Lauren Kloer D.V.M., of Leesburg Veterinary Hospital offers her boarding advice for dog and cat owners.

Pet Sitting is a great option for older dogs that don’t need a whole lot of attention and stimulation and also for anti-social dogs. If the owner is only going out of town for a few days, maybe a week, older dogs feel more comfortable at home, surrounded by the familiar smells and furniture of their home. Pet sitters will drop by the house at previously arranged times throughout the day and often stay overnight, depending on the arrangement. Having a pet sitter is ideal for cats as well because they are easily stressed out and exposed to illness in boarding facilities.

Some reputable local pet sitting companies include: Northern Virginia Pet Sitters, Belly Rubs Pet Care, LLC and Throw Me A Bone, LLC.

In-Home Pet Boarding allows your pet to stay with another family who has been hired and background checked by a pet boarding company. This is a great option for social, non-territorial dogs. In-home pet boarding offers many benefits such as reduced risk of exposure to disease because there are fewer dogs around, 24-hour supervision and a more affordable rate.

Reputable local in-home pet boarding can be contracted through Woofies Pet Sitters, Dog Walkers and Mobile Spa; Belly Rubs Pet Care, LLC; or privately through

Traditional Pet Boarding is suitable for social adolescent and adult dogs. Dr. Kloer says, “A quality boarding kennel should require (not just recommend) that pets have had a current vet exam. They should also require current rabies vaccination as well as communicable disease vaccines.  All pets should either have a recent negative fecal exam or be on regular deworming.” Dr. Kloer also recommends finding a pet boarding kennel through personal recommendations and taking a tour of the facility before sending your pet. She recommends checking boarding kennels through the U.S.D.A. Animal Care Information Search before sending your pet there. If you need to send your cat to a boarding facility, make sure it is an extremely clean facility that uses Feliway® diffusers, which reduce stress. If you have a sick or geriatric cat, Dr. Kloer says it is important to send the cat to a veterinary clinic.

Pet Spas are a new trend in pet boarding. Dr. Kloer states that the benefits of pet spas often include CCTV which allows worried owners to see their pets having fun and additional activities such as swimming, extra walks and training courses, which is great for young dogs with excess energy. However, Dr. Kloer notes that some things to keep in mind when scouting out a pet spa are: your dog should remain clean for the entire visit and be clean when you pick him or her up, swimming can be scary for a dog who has never done it before, and any massages should be given by a licensed pet massage therapist. Like traditional pet boarding, Dr. Kloer recommends finding a pet spa through recommendations, making sure the spa requires vaccines and exams, and checking the spa through the A.C.I.S. system mentioned before.

Communal Boarding (or Cage-less Boarding) is an option where dogs from the same household stay together in “suites” at some pet spas and kennels or in some situations large groups of dogs stay in spacious rooms without cages. According to Dr. Kloer, communal boarding is great for dogs from the same household but sending your dogs to stay in a big room with dogs they have not met before can be a precarious situation. If you decide to send your dog to a communal boarding facility, make sure they have constant supervision and only allow healthy, sociable, vaccinated dogs.