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Boarding Your Dog…Guilt Free

We've all felt guilty dropping off our pets for boarding. Recently, however, a national trend in boarding makes this guilt unnecessary. The trend prioritizes the comfort level and well being of your pet. No longer are small cramped cages in a dimly lit area with limited human contact the norm. For Cats, "Cat Condos" are one of the boarding revelations taking us into the year 2000. These spacious condos allow cats to roam, perch and jump. Connecting condos for multiple cat families help reduce the isolation and separation anxiety cats can feel while away from each other and home. Large glass windows provide a bright view of the world outside. Bird feeders on the windows, soft music and air conditioning can help minimize stress and positively reinforce the cat's stay.

Dogs also deserve specialty treatment. Large indoor runs or cages that effectively accommodate the size of your dog provide comfort in lodging. Air conditioning and soft music help increase comfort and decrease the stress of the boarding experience. Supervised walking in outdoor fenced exercise areas multiple times daily help release energy. The fence provides optimum safety and time to play while receiving special attention from the pet care team. Up to date vaccinations are critical to your pets health, especially when boarding. It is far less costly to prevent disease rather than treat it. Boarding facilities can be challenged by some of the following problems: Intestinal parasites can be passed from one pet to another by oral and/or fecal transmission. External parasites (disease carrying fleas and ticks) can be transmitted from one pet to another. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that all animals boarded be free of all parasites. Respiratory diseases are airborne ("kennel cough" in dogs and upper respiratory tract infections in cats) which can be a problem for boarded pets. Vaccinations for viral and bacterial infections are available through your veterinarian, and should be a part of your pet's annual health care program as well as a requirement for boarding.

Keep in mind before you board your pet the following tips:
1. There is an added advantage to boarding your pet with the safety and security of veterinary supervision.
2. Always ask for a tour of the facility before leaving your pet to board. (keep in mind the level of cleanliness on your tour)
3. Your pets vaccinations should be current.
4. Question the house diet the facility has available for your pet. It would be to your pets advantage to bring its own food. Dietary changes can be responsible for upset stomachs and diarrhea. Also ask how often the pets are fed.
5. Inquire about the number of times a day your dog gets to go out for exercise, and/or playtime.
6. Always ask how often the cages are cleaned and disinfected. What about linen changes for your pet? Especially important is how often the outdoor runs are sanitized.
7. Is there music available at night for your pets.
8. Always leave an emergency number for you to be contacted in the event of a problem. Especially important if you choose not to leave your pet in a veterinary facility.

One such state-of-the-art facility is the brand new "Pet Resort" at Ashton Animal Clinic, located at 5660 Ashton Road (at Gantt) in Sarasota, open for your inspection during regular business hours. For more information, call 941-927-2700. Laurie A. Walmsley, D.V.M.


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