Healthy Hungry Dog

The Importance of Organic, Raw and Healthy Dog Treats

You feed your dog only the highest quality foods. The same should hold true for treats. Avoid giving your best friend the equivalent of canine candy, and reward him with healthy treats consisting of organic and/or raw ingredients.

What is Organic?

By law, organic meat treats come from livestock that do not receive antibiotics or growth hormone, and in the case of cattle, are grass-fed. Plant products are synthetic fertilizer and pesticide-free. Of course, organic foods are never genetically modified.

When choosing a treat, read the label carefully. Look not only for organic ingredients, but few ingredients overall. With dog treats, less is more. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows a little leeway in foods labeled organic. Up to 5 percent of these foods may contain non-organic ingredients. Avoid treats containing:

  • preservatives
  • grains
  • sugar

Raw Treats

Raw treats are usually freeze-dried, and composed of beef, chicken or lamb liver. Such treats complement an overall raw food diet, based on the philosophy that raw is the natural way for canines to eat. As with any diet, there’s controversy, but dogs don’t care about that. They just love the taste.

Fewer Allergic Triggers

Food allergies in dogs manifest themselves as severe skin issues. If you’ve ever had a pet suffering from a food allergy, you know it’s difficult to treat. That’s because getting to the bottom of a canine food allergy is a matter of trial-and-error. It consists of feeding a new, single source of protein – such as kangaroo or rabbit – to the animal for three months or more, and seeing if symptoms resolve. If there is no improvement, it’s back to the drawing board with another novel protein. If symptoms cease, you must go back to the dog’s original, pre-trial food and see if the allergy re-emerges. It’s not a fun time for you or Fido.

Choosing organic treats reduces the odds of triggering a food allergy in your dog. These treats shouldn’t contain common causes of canine allergic reactions, including:

  • corn
  • soy
  • wheat

Made in the USA

You’ve probably heard reports of dogs getting sick or even dying after ingesting treats made in China or other developing countries. It’s not easy to tell where the materials from a treat originated unless that information is included on the package label. Tainted treats came from American companies that outsourced their manufacturing to other nations. The FDA reports that the majority of the cases involves chicken jerky, but also “duck, sweet potato, and treats where chicken or duck jerky is wrapped around dried fruits, sweet potatoes, or yams.”

If the package doesn’t contain information about where the ingredients originated and where the product was manufactured, call the company and find out.

Dental Hygiene

Organic treats can help your dog maintain healthy teeth and gums. These treats are best given right after your dog’s meals. Look for products with the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval.

Nonfattening

When given in moderation, organic or raw treats shouldn’t cause your dog to gain weight. That’s because treats with healthy ingredients contain fewer calories than standard dog treats. The latter includes grains along with additives and fillers, all of which boost the calorie count. It’s the difference between a person snacking on a piece of fruit versus potato chips.

Treats and Training

Treats are an ideal reward for any type of training, whether your dog is learning obedience skills or still mastering the concept of eliminating outdoors. For obedience, tricks and other more intense training, your dog might receive a fair amount of treats in each session. While it’s always important to give your dog healthy treats, that’s especially true if he consumes several in a relatively short time period. Look for treats especially designed for training purposes.

High Value Treats

Not all treats are created equal, even if healthy. A nibble of holistic kibble is “low value” – tasty, but not exciting. A high value treat is an item your dog really loves, and will focus on whatever you want him to do to get his reward. Raw treats usually fall into this category. If it’s possible for your dog to love you even more than he already does, high value treats will do the trick.

References

http://www.organic-pet-digest.com/dog-organic-treat.html

http://www.caninejournal.com/organic-dog-treats/

http://www.usapetcover.com/blog/are-you-giving-your-pets-gourmet-treats/

http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2013/04/15/raw-food-diet-part-3.aspx

http://blog.barfworld.com/2013/09/11/what-a-treat-the-dos-and-donts-of-pet-treats/

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2111&aid=143

http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ProductSafetyInformation/ucm319463.htm

Lavender Herb And Essential Oil

Essential Oils for Pets

If you’d like to take a more natural, holistic approach to caring for your dog or horse, include certain essential oils in your toolkit. Used medicinally for thousands of years, essential oils are the results of distillation from plant elements. Although there are dozens, if not hundreds, of essential oils on the market, several specific oils are your best bet for use in common canine and equine conditions. When buying oils, make sure they are 100% pure (non-diluted) and certified organic. Most oils can be used on dogs and horses at full strength. Cats are very sensitive to oils like oregano, peppermint, and some cedars, so it’s best to ask the supplier first and then dilute them with a carrier oil.

Using Essential Oils on Dogs

Remember to always dilute essential oils before placing them on your dog. The smaller the dog, the more dilution is required using a “carrier,”such as almond, coconut, olive oil, or aloe vera juice. Never place essential oils around the animal’s eyes, nose, mouth, anus, or genitals. Some dogs may experience reactions to particular oils, so keep an eye on them after application. If they appear uncomfortable, do not use that oil on your pet.

Lavender and Peppermint Oil

If there are just two essentials oil you keep in your cupboard, make it lavender and peppermint oils. Lavender helps calm a nervous dog, and it’s a good tool for canines afraid of thunder, vet visits, automobile rides, or being alone. It’s also great to relieve scratching and itching from food and seasonal allergies. Elderly dogs with cognitive problems or sleeping disorders may benefit from lavender oil. Because lavender oil also acts as an antifungal and antibacterial, it’s useful for treating minor cuts or scrapes. Peppermint helps dogs who get car sick, just apply a small amount on their stomach before you travel. It also relieves hip and joint pain following extreme exercise or to help keep older pets flexible.

Cedarwood and Eucalyptus

If you don’t like the idea of putting powerful pesticides on your dog during flea and tick season, consider using essential oils to keep fleas and ticks at bay. You’ll have to check your dog for these pests daily and use a flea comb frequently to make sure they’re not harboring these bloodsucking creatures. Several essential oils, often blended together, can prevent flea and tick infestation in your dog. Your best choices are cedarwood and eucalyptus, which both work in repelling fleas.

Sweet Marjoram and Helichrysum

Various skin problems afflict dogs, resulting from parasites, allergies and other causes. Your vet must make the actual diagnosis of your dog’s skin issue. Different skin ailments often have similar symptoms, including hair loss and crusty, oozing sores. Certain essential oils can help canine skin issues, whether used in conjunction with conventional therapy or on their own. Sweet marjoram is useful for treating bacterial skin infections, while helichrysum helps relieve the pain and scratching of eczema and reduces skin inflammation. Helichrysum stops bleeding if you cut your pet’s nails too closely. Once again, lavender oil, used alone or blended with sweet marjoram or helichrysum, helps soothe many canine skin problems.

Respiratory Issues

If your dog returns from a boarding kennel or doggie daycare with a harsh, honking cough – but otherwise seems normal – your dog has probably picked up kennel cough. Although it’s always wise to have a vet examine your dog, kennel cough, or Bordetella bronchiseptica, usually runs its course in a couple of weeks without treatment. Think of it as a canine cold. Blend diluted lavender and eucalyptus in a diffuser, allowing your dog to breathe in this aromatherapy to ease congestion.  

Niaouli Oil for Ear infections

Many dogs, especially those with long, hanging ears, suffer from frequent ear infections. Your vet should always examine your dog if you suspect an ear infection. Niaouli oil, with its strong antibacterial properties, can help rid your dog of ear infections, and keep them from returning. Clean your dog’s ears regularly with a niaouli and lavender oil blend to aid in preventing infections.  

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil should be used with care for dogs only, not for cats – it can be toxic if ingested internally and must be very diluted before used externally. It is helpful for cleaning cuts and scrapes, clearing up fungal infections and stops the itching from bug bites.

Essential Oils for Equines

Because horses are so large, giving them too much of an essential oil isn’t as much of a problem as it is with dogs. They can be applied neat on the chest, down the spine, on the legs and the coronet band. Some oils, although helpful in many situations, cannot be used when showing in rated events. Please check with the AHSA or governing body before you use them during a horse show.

Calming

Use lavender to help calm a nervous horse. Let the horse sniff lavender straight from the bottle, or put some of it on the forehead or muzzle. Other essential oils with calming effects on horses include valerian and chamomile. Hint – if you have a nervous rider, apply it on the chest or the mane – as the horse sweats, the scent will ride and keep the rider calm too!

Essential Oils as Fly Deterrents

Protect your horse from flies naturally and efficiently with homemade fly sprays containing essential oils. Mix citronella, peppermint, lavender and bergamot essential oils to repel flies, in a base of aloe vera juice and water. (Do not use the citronella oil used for lanterns on your horse. You want citronella essential oil.)

Hoof Care

Use tea tree oil to cure a horse’s thrush. If your horse suffers an abscess, blend a mixture of Epsom salts in warm water with tea tree, oregano and lavender oils to help it open. Soak the foot in the mix for 20 minutes, twice a day, until the abscess pops. Once the abscess blows and leaves a hole, apply wintergreen oil. It penetrates exceptionally deeply to kill bacteria in the hole.       

 

antioxidants

Top 15 Antioxidant-Rich Pet Foods and Supplements

Antioxidants are any substances that impede oxidation in the body. That’s the literal meaning of “antioxidant,” but these molecular compounds are important because they protect cells from damage by “free radicals.” Those are atoms with odd numbers of electrons, formed when certain molecules and oxygen interact. Free radicals form a chain reaction and harm cells, but antioxidants can stop the chain reaction before damage is done. The most common antioxidants include:

  • Vitamins A, C and E
  • Alpha lipoic acid – sources include kidney and liver
  • Co-enzyme Q10 – a compound made in the body
  • Curcumin, or turmeric
  • Grape seed extract
  • Lignan – found in plant material such as flaxseed
  • Lutein – found in plant leaves and egg yolk
  • Lycopene –  a carotenoid found in tomatoes
  • Selenium –  a lack of selenium impairs antioxidant protection, but it is toxic in high doses
  • Silymarin – the active ingredient in milk thistle.

While any pet benefits from antioxidant-rich pet foods or supplements, animals suffering from chronic inflammation are in greatest need. That includes dogs or cats exhibiting arthritis symptoms, combating skin ailments, or fighting immune disorders. Quality foods filled with antioxidants can help delay age-related cognitive impairment in canines and felines and improve eyesight.

 

Top Antioxidant-Rich Pet Foods

Acana – Only fresh, local, sustainable ingredients go into Acana’s dog and cat foods, and nothing is ever outsourced. Available only as dry food.

http://acana.com/

 

SoJos – All dog and cat foods contain human-grade ingredients and no chemical additives. Order freeze-dried food or the pre-mix, to which you add homemade dog and cat food. The pre-mix ensures your pet receives all the necessary antioxidants when you make his meals.

https://www.sojos.com/

 

Orijen – This Canadian company produces biologically appropriate food for dogs and cats from fresh, regional ingredients. Orijen does not offer canned pet foods, but its dry foods contain freeze-dried ingredients, and completely freeze-dried dog food is available.

http://www.orijen.ca/why-orijen/

 

Stella and Chewy’s –This company offers freeze-dried or frozen raw meals for dogs and cats, all containing premium meats and organic fruits and vegetables. Thaw raw meals before feeding.

https://www.stellaandchewys.com/

 

Taste of the Wild – These grain-free canine and feline foods mimic the animal’s ancestral diet. Taste of the Wild is available in canned and dry formulas.

http://www.tasteofthewildpetfood.com/#our-brand

 

Wellness – Wellness foods for dogs and cats consist of real meat, vegetables and fruits, and are full of antioxidants. Wellness pet foods also contain probiotics and omega fatty acids. Canned and dry foods are available.

http://www.wellnesspetfood.com/dog-wellness.aspx

 

Top Antioxidant-Rich Supplements

NaturaVet Aller-911 Skin & Coat Soft Chews – These tasty soft chews provide natural sources of antioxidants and help to support a healthy canine and feline immune system. They assist in ridding the body of environmental pollutants and aid in eliminating allergy-based coat and skin problems. http://animalconnectionva.com/product/naturvet-aller-911-skin-coat-soft-chews/ NaturVet Aller-911 Skin & Coat Tabs – The same product in tablet form. http://animalconnectionva.com/product/naturvet-aller-911-skin-coat-tabs/

Dr. Harvey’s Coenzyme Q10 – Coenzyme Q10 supports cardiovascular health and is especially recommended for older dogs and cats.  https://www.drharveys.com/products/dogs/121-coenzyme-q10-supplement-for-dogs

 

Grizzly Krill Oil for Dogs – This powerful antioxidant supplement contains astaxanthin, a natural substance found in wild krill in Arctic waters.

http://www.grizzlypetproducts.com/grizzly-krill-oil/

 

Life Line Organic Ocean Kelp Dog and Cat Supplement – This kelp-based supplement contains antioxidants along with essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Organic-Ocean-Supplement-2-Pound/dp/B003YMLCL2

 

Mountain Spring Antioxidant Vitamin Pet Chews – These U.S.A.-made chews – and treats – are made from the finest natural ingredients using the company’s proprietary extrusion process.

http://www.mountainspringpet.com/

 

Nu-Pet Feline Granular with Antioxidants – Even finicky cats will like this product, which helps boost the immune system.

http://www.petwellbeing.com/products/nu-pet-cat-granular-greens?utm_campaign=affiliate-marketing&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_source=sas

 

Nutro Ultra Antioxidant Blend Adult Dog Biscuits – This blend contains whole brown rice, oatmeal, flaxseed, salmon meal, blueberries, pomegranate, oat fiber, dried pumpkin and more.  http://www.amazon.com/Antioxidant-Dog-Biscuits-Blueberry-Pomegranate/dp/B005J3XI2A

 

Primo Pet Products “Essentials” – A digestive enzyme/probiotic/vitamin/mineral blend that brings back balance to the diet and overall well being of dogs or cats. We recommend anyone feeding a dry or canned food add this supplement to bring back valuable “life force” to processed food.

http://animalconnectionva.com/product/primo-pet-products-essentials/

 

Always consult your animal care provider before giving your pet supplements. Even though antioxidants are generally safe, there is always a possibility of over-supplementation and possible toxicity, depending on the animal’s diet or overall health. Pregnant or lactating animals should not receive certain supplements, nor should pets undergoing chemotherapy or other cancer treatments. Always tell your animal care provider if your pet experiences any side effects from a supplement, and discontinue the supplementation until the animal has an examination.

http://www.holisticpetinfo.com/Antioxidants-for-Pets.html

http://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_antioxidants_and_their_use_in_dog_food

http://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/brain-food-dogs/24143

http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2014/11/24/pet-dha-antioxidant-rich-diets.aspx

http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/antioxidants/235

http://dogdaysofbirmingham.com/tyfoon/site/fckeditor/file/TOP%20Worst%20&%20Best%20Dog%20Foods.pdf

http://allnaturalpetcare.com/blog/2015/06/05/sources-antioxidants-cats-carnivores/

http://thoroughlyreviewed.com/pets/dog-vitamin-review/

EASTER EGG HUNT & HAT CONTEST!

“HOP ON IN” SATURDAY, MARCH 26 from 1:00 – 4:00 FOR A SPECIAL EASTER EVENT! Join the hunt for colored eggs all over the store… they’ll be filled with treats and coupons! Find the special “golden egg” and you can win over $100 in cool stuff for pets! Prizes will be awarded for the most original Easter bonnet and we’ll announce the big winner on our Facebook page.

SPRING GROOMING FOR DOGS and NOW FOR CATS!

Itchy skin? Rough paws? Shedding? Just plain scruffy? Try our NEW expanded pet grooming services! Book a regular appointment (bath, nails, ears, scissoring) with our new stylist, Reba Priscilla… and you’ll get your choice of de-shedding, dry skin care, rough paw & elbow scrub, flea and tick treatment or teeth brushing FREE. All natural products, stress-free and gentle! WE NOW DO CATS TOO! This special offer goes through April 15 but we are booking fast so don’t wait to make your appointment for your pets! (PS – stay tuned… we’ll be offering mobile services soon!)

Most common dog breed for adoption infographic

Most Common Dog Breeds Up for Adoption and Their Personality [INFOGRAPHIC]

Most common dog breed for adoption infographic

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You don’t have to go to a pet store to find a purebred dog. Certain breeds are quite common in animal shelters, and by adopting such dogs, you are saving a life. Of all dogs entering shelters, approximately 35 percent are adopted, 31 percent are euthanized and 26 percent of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owners, according to the ASPCA.

The number of dog bites per breed that resulted in death over a 10-year period

It’s always wise to research the personality and other characteristics of any breed. Since the origin of many dogs available for adoption is unknown, shelter managers describe an animal as the breed it most resembles. In some cases, this assumption is completely inaccurate. Unless it is obvious that a dog is purebred, you may want to have his DNA tested after you bring him home.

Pit Bull Terrier/American Staffordshire Terrier

This isn’t a contest any dog wants to win, but there’s no question that the most common dog breed found in shelters is the pit bull terrier. In many parts of the country, they make up nearly all of the dogs found in shelters. As few as one in 600 pit bulls are adopted – the rest are euthanized. While pit bull is a type, the American Staffordshire terrier is an actual breed. Some pit bulls entering shelters come from a dogfighting background, but for most, it’s simply a matter of over-breeding. From 2005 to 2014, pit bull-type dogs were responsible for 62 percent of all fatal dog bite attacks in the United States. Pit bull advocates describe them as loving, easily trained dogs, which is certainly true of many of these animals. However, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to refuse homeowner coverage for pit bull owners and for landlords to refuse to rent to pit bull-owning tenants. Throw in some cities with breed-specific legislation against pit bull types, and it creates a perfect storm of unwanted dogs.

Pit bulls are probably not the breed for novice dog owners, and obedience training and spay/neutering is imperative. Pit bulls were originally bred to fight other dogs, so even a pit bull that is good with people may exhibit some aggression.

Labrador Retrievers

The Labrador Retriever consistently achieves the highest number of annual American Kennel Club registrations, so it’s no surprise that a fair number of these dogs end up in need of new homes. Young labs are highly energetic and exuberant, and may turn out to be more than some folks can handle. Properly trained labs are a joy to own, and they soak up knowledge like a sponge. Remember this is the breed of choice for guide, therapy, and search-and-rescue dogs. Give your rescue lab plenty of love, exercise. and education, and you should have a first-rate pet.

German Shepherds

German Shepherds and shepherd types often enter shelters because they are too large for their owners. Among the smartest breeds, German shepherds are also quite dominant. This is a dog that needs physical and mental exercise, and a person to train him correctly. If they are left alone and bored, they will find a destructive way to channel all that energy. For the right individual, this dog is an extraordinarily devoted companion. German Shepherds also makes a good family pet for older children.

Jack Russell Terriers

The TV series “Fraser” and “Wishbone” were possibly the worst things to ever happen to the Jack Russell terrier. Before these shows became popular, the Jack Russell was primarily found on farms and in stables, doing what he does best: killing rats and getting into mischief. People watched these well-behaved TV dogs and decided they’d make great companions, with no comprehension of the demands of living with a working small terrier. Jack Russells do make good companions for those who can live with the breed’s traits. These dogs love to hunt and kill smaller creatures, including cats, and they often don’t get along with other canines. They bark, dig, require lots of exercise, and don’t like being left alone.  On the plus side, they’re funny, smart, and a good dog for those with an active lifestyle.

Boxers

Boxers are such intelligent, loving, people-oriented dogs it’s hard to imagine why they so often end in shelters. There are two common scenarios. Boxers have an abundance of energy and need a lot of exercise, and some people can’t deal with their needs. The other scenario is more difficult to overcome – boxers are subject to a lot of genetic diseases. These include cardiac issues, cancer, arthritis, colitis, hypothyroidism, and more. Owners who can’t afford their dog’s treatment may relinquish them to a shelter. If you fall in love with a shelter boxer, get as much information as you about the dog’s health history.

Beagles

Beagles are ruled by their noses. Many beagles end up in shelters as strays, because they wander off from home and have no identification or microchip. That’s a shame because these happy-go-lucky canines make great pets for the right person. Beagles are generally friendly, if a little stubborn, and get along well with kids, cats, and other dogs. They’re smart, but not particularly easy to train. Because the scent of rabbit, squirrel, or other wildlife is so tempting to the beagle, it’s never a good idea to let this dog run off-leash.

Chihuahuas

Many shelters are chock full of these tiny dogs. Chis are surrendered to shelters for lots of reasons, but housebreaking difficulty probably tops the list. They are hard to housebreak, and even with love and patient training, some Chis are never going to approach 100 percent in that department. If you can put up with a 75 percent compliance rate, consider adopting a Chi. These little dogs definitely have attitude, and their small size makes them potential fear biters. They are generally one person dogs, and too delicate for a family dog. On the other hand, they’re portable, long-lived, don’t eat much, and adore their special someone.

For more information on shelter intake and surrender statistics, please visit the ASPCA.

NEW! SATURDAY “YAPPY HOUR” TREAT TASTING PARTY

You’re invited to our “Treat Tasting Party” EVERY SATURDAY from 1:00 – 3:00 to see what’s new for dogs AND cats! Our weekly tasting table features a variety of in stock favorites and new products we’re considering adding to our line up of healthy choices. Try ’em in the store and take home a sample to share with your furry friends. If you love ’em, get 10% OFF on a bag to take home! You can also register to help us try out other new toys and products – we value your opinions and want to make sure we have the very best pet products around!

NEW! KODA TREATS NOW IN STOCK!

One of our “finds” from the Pacific Northwest! Koda Treats are made in northern California with 100% USA sourced ingredients and are grain/corn/soy/wheat/gluten free! Made from responsibly raised bison, chicken, salmon and great superfoods like quinoa, chia, amaranth, pumpkin, ginger, blueberries and pomegranate. Perfect for training or to stuff in interactive toys for dogs and cats. Come by for a sample!

PEARLY WHITE TEETH… FRESH BREATH… HEALTHY GUMS… 20% OFF!!

You can save on dental care by feeding better food! Many dry foods are filled with sugars that cling to teeth and gums so choose instead a good dehydrated  food (Honest Kitchen, SoJos) or frozen raw food (Primal, Bravo, K9Kraving, Stella & Chewy) with high amounts of unprocessed enzymes. If you prefer a kibble, go with high protein choices like Orijen or Acana but remember, crunching on kibble is not a substitute for teeth cleaning. For added protection, try our dental care products — Now 20% OFF through February! Your dogs and cats will love our highly digestible, enzyme filled treats that clean teeth, freshen breath and come in great flavors like bacon, chicken, carrot fish and parsley/mint. We also have water additives, toothbrushes and sprays that are easy to use and very effective.

Dog Boarding – What to Look for in a Care Provider

Cute Happy Havanese Puppy Dog Is Sitting Before A Pet Crate

Leaving your dog in another’s care is naturally nerve-racking. A good care provider, whether that’s a boarding kennel or in-home care, enables you to relax and not worry when going away.

When looking for a care provider, consider your dog’s special needs. That’s not just their physical needs, but also their emotional makeup. Outgoing, exuberant dogs usually fare well in a boarding situation. Shy, nervous canines are another story. It’s important to find the right situation for your dog.

Prior to bringing your dog to a boarding kennel, ensure that they are current on all his vaccinations. They will need a bordetella – better known as kennel cough – inoculation, and a canine influenza shot. Any boarding situation that does not require proof that your dog is fully vaccinated is one to avoid.  

 

Boarding Kennels

First impressions count. When visiting a potential kennel, make use of your senses. How it looks, smells and sounds tell you a lot about the place. Kennels are not the quietest places in the world, but excessive barking usually means bored, attention-starved canines. Speak with the manager and available kennel staff. Consider their attitude, professionalism, and the questions they ask you about your dog when making a boarding decision. Good kennels want to know about your dog’s temperament, behavior, health, and any special requirements.

The management should inquire about whether your dog is currently on a flea and tick preventive and the type of flea/tick control you use. Reputable kennels do not want boarders bringing parasites onto the premises.

Kennel Inspection

Make sure the kennel allows you to thoroughly inspect the facility. You want a clean, well-lit, well-ventilated, inviting place for your dog to stay. Check the outdoor runs to see if they are protected from the elements. If the kennel only offers indoor runs, find out how often and for how long dogs are taken for walks each day. Inside, kennels should offer air conditioning in hot weather and heat when the temperatures drop. Because dogs in a strange place may try to escape, look around the perimeter of the facility. It should have strong, well-maintained fencing to ensure that an escapee can’t get very far.

Each individual run should always have fresh, clean water available. The dog’s sleeping area should be comfortable. Some kennels allow you to bring your own dog bed.

Feeding Policy

Most kennels will allow you to provide your own food for your dog, if that’s what you want or need to do. Otherwise, kennels generally feed one specific type of food to all dogs, or have several types available and the client chooses a brand for their pet. If your dog has special dietary requirements – even if it consists of foods they mustn’t eat – let the kennel management know and confirm they can accommodate their needs.

Ask Questions

It’s important to understand the kennel’s schedule and practices. Find out beforehand about:

  • individual socialization time, the one-on-one attention your dog receives daily
  • staff to dog ratio – at least one person for every 10 dogs
  • feeding and exercise schedule
  • night staffing
  • separation by size for any group living or playtime
  • veterinary care for emergencies, and whether the dog can be transported to your own vet
  • additional services, such as dispensing medication, grooming or training
  • facility insurance

You don’t want any unfortunate situations or surprises because you didn’t ask.

In-home Boarding

You might prefer that your dog stay in a home environment, especially if you’re going away for a considerable length of time. While many people do informal pet-sitting, your best bet is a person who belongs to a national pet-sitting organization and is certified by that agency. These at-home pet sitters are bonded and insured. Always ask an in-home boarding provider for client references.

The criteria for in-home boarding are similar to that of boarding kennels, including vaccination and parasite control. You’ll want to know whether your pet has the run of the house or is confined to certain spaces. Inspect the fencing in the dog’s yard area for any holes or evidence of digging out.  Find out how often the pet sitter is out of the house every day, and where your dog will stay during that period. If no one is home for much of the day, you’re probably better off with a different boarding situation.

It’s imperative for you and your dog to have a meet-and-greet with the pet sitter and their family members, both two-and four-legged. Even the best pet sitters may have animals that simply don’t get along with your dog, or your dog might not feel comfortable around children. Ask the pet sitter whether any other boarding dogs or other animals will stay in the home during your dog’s time there. If possible, ask to have a meet-and-greet at the sitter’s home with those pets to see if they get along.

Get Recommendations

Ask your veterinarian and friends about good boarding options in your area. If you have a dog trainer or belong to a dog club, that’s another good source of advice. A community website or Facebook page is another place to ask questions and get feedback. It never hurts to contact the Better Business Bureau and find out if complaints have been filed against the kennel.