Finding a reputable boarding facility you trust with your dog is difficult even in the most “normal” of situations. We all love our dogs and want them treated with the same care and respect we give them. But if you are a raw feeder, you may find extra difficulties in finding an appropriate place to board.
Things To Ask About
Are they able and willing? Many boarding facilities have not been approached about boarding a raw-fed dog before, so you may need to do some education. You will want to verify they have enough freezer/refrigerator space for your dog’s meals. Many do not have full-size refrigerators and that can immediately knock them out of the running, especially if it will be for more than an overnight. Some people are just very squeamish about raw meat or the idea of raw-feeding so they may just flat-out refuse.
What are their vaccination requirements? Many raw-feeders practice a reduced vaccination schedule, while many boarding facilities require increased vaccinations such as proof of a bordatella vacc within the past six months. You will need to be upfront and honest about whatever vaccinations you do or do not have administered to your dog and see if they are willing to work with you. Some facilities will accept proof of titer levels for the main vaccinations, but you may not be able to get around the bordatella requirements. You need to determine if you are willing to give that for the sake of boarding, or continue looking.
Will they supervise meals? Even experienced raw-fed dogs should be supervised while eating. All it takes is a second for a dog to inhale too much food and start choking. I’m sure most of us have been there and had that momentary panic! Usually dogs can hork it back up of their own volition (and then promptly re-eat it, because dogs are gross!), but I know I’ve had to assist once with Inara when she choked. You want to make sure that the kennel is willing to hang out for a few minutes and monitor your dog’s meals. Many kennels don’t have time to do this, so it’s important to ask and emphasize the importance of it.
Are they willing to dole out supplements? I know that Inara’s meals take longer to prepare due to all the supplements I give her. If you give your dog a lot of supplements, especially some that require mixing or careful measuring of powders, you need to find out if the kennel is willing to do supplement prep for your dog’s meals.
As you are requesting a lot of extra work above and beyond what boarding facilities generally offer, it is reasonable to offer to make things as easy as possible for the kennel. Here are some ideas that you can and should offer to do:
- Pre-portioned meals: Instead of expecting the kennel to divvy up and weigh out your dog’s meal portions, have them all separated and pre-bagged. This enables the kennel to simply thaw the bag, open it, and dump it out.
- Have some pre-thawed: If you are going to be gone for any length of time, you will be providing most of the meals already frozen. However, make sure you have at least one or two thawed and ready to go so the kennel doesn’t need to make an effort to get them thawed in time for a meal.
- Have supplements bagged individually: Along with pre-portioned meals, have supplements pre-portioned so they can just dump and go. Alternately, if your dog can skip supplements while you’re gone, that may be easiest. Especially if they require special mixing with hot water and stirring/preparation.
- Provide less complex meals: Instead of sending time-intensive meals that your dog would labor over for quite some time (thoroughly enjoying him/herself though!), send meals that your dog can eat more quickly. Minimal bone or softer, easily consumed bones. Since you are requesting that the kennel supervise meals, help them out by ensuring they are not out of commission with your dog for an hour.
If you are unable to find a facility that will accommodate your requests, that you are comfortable using, AND that you can afford (boarding is expensive!), you might want to consider bringing in a house sitter. These are a great option, and what I do now for Inara and the cats. Get referrals from friends and make sure you are 100% comfortable with them having free access to your house.
What issues have you run into when finding a boarding facility, and how did you resolve them? Tell us!