The Pros and Cons of Kenneling (Boarding) vs. Getting a Pet Sitter for Your Dog


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You have 2 options when you go on vacation. The first is to kennel your dog and the second is to have a pet sitter watch him. There are advantages and disadvantages of both.

How dogs react or responds to each really varies with the individual dog and its personality. Below are some pros and cons of boarding vs. finding a pet sitter to help you as you consider which is best for your dog.

Pros for a Kennel or Boarding Facility

  • You don't have anyone you don't know coming into your house.

  • Your dog is being monitoring in a trustworthy location with professionals monitoring your dog. This is their business and they hopefully will know what they are doing.

    Cons for a Kennel or Boarding Facility

  • A kennel is convenient but it is important to find a facility that you trust. Not all of these are "great". Find one with a good reputation. Some dogs don't get the play and attention they desire. Extra walks and play time can be optional "add-on" to your base fee. Consider those features.

  • Many dogs are more stressed at kennels than they are by staying in their own environment.

  • Some dogs are fed or given different food which can lead to gastrointestinal upsets such as vomiting or diarrhea. This seems to be worse with the addition of "stress".

  • It is possible for some dogs to acquire infectious diseases such as kennel cough while boarding. The combination of lots of dogs in a small area and stress can induce a viral infection in some dogs (this is similar to lots of kids in kindergarten passing around a common "cold"). To minimize this risk, make sure your dog is current on all vaccinations.

    Pros for a Pet Sitter

  • You have someone checking your house, getting your mail and making your home looked "lived in". You can sometimes find someone who is willing to stay at your home if you desire this level of service. A pet sitter that stays at your home is sure to give your pets plenty of attention. However, you have to find the right person! Office and technical staff at veterinary clinics can make good candidates for this job. They are animal-people and are trained to detect medical problems should they arise.

  • Your dog is in his own environment which is generally less stressful.

  • Your dog will eat his own food and have his own routine. A change of food or an addition of treats can sometimes induce gastrointestinal upset.

    Cons for a Pet Sitter

  • You are opening your home and pets to one person that you need to trust. If you choose the wrong person –it is possible they could have friends over to your home. You need to choose the right person – one that you trust.

    Regardless if whether you choose a kennel or pet sitter - make sure you provide clear instruction on what food your dog should be fed and any required medications. A good kennel or pet sitter will often walk and play with the dogs several times a day. Give clear instructions on what you expect of his activity, playtime and interaction with other dogs. Also, ensure that you provide good contact information in both instances in the case of an emergency.

    You should read the following articles for information on both topics including Kenneling Your Dog and Getting a Pet Sitter.

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    About The Author

    debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

    Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.