Let's Talk About Boarding Your Dog

Understanding the kennel environment

It is important to understand the possible effects of stress on a dog and to do everything possible to minimize stress both prior to and immediately after boarding. Sometimes temporary behavior changes can occur as a result of unfamiliar surroundings. While boarding, your best friend tears up the bed that has been slept in for years. Or “Killer,” that rowdy scourge of the neighborhood, turns into a little lamb. Eating habits change under stress, and a dog assimilates food differently. Some will eat like canaries at home and like vultures at a boarding facility. They may put on a few pounds. Others can lose weight though eating well or lose weight by not eating enough.   Life in a boarding facility can be very exciting, and some dogs lose weight because they run the weight off as they charge  around barking at other dogs and having a wonderful time. These dogs often leave the facility exhausted but happy, and sleep a lot the first couple of days they are home. All of the preparation by the pet owner merely points out that successful boarding depends not only upon the pet care facility, but also upon how well the owner prepares the dog for the experience.

Advantages of boarding your dog

The vast majority of dogs adapt well and enjoy their stay at the kennel. Pet sitting in your home does not offer the same level of supervision that boarding does. Furthermore, when you are not at home with your dog, his or her behavior might differ significantly from the normal behavior. For instance your dog might try to “escape” to find you, become destructive to your home, or become aggressive toward the pet sitter.

You should definitely consider boarding your dog rather than taking him or her on vacation with you. Many motels will not accept dogs, and those that 

 do charge extra and become very upset if your dog annoys their other guests. Pets can become ill as a result of traveling because of the frequent changes in water. Many dogs suffer heat prostration while locked in the car when owners go sightseeing, eating or shopping. The national parks have an abundance of lost dogs that somehow got away from their owners and couldn’t be found before the family had to leave for home. Another serious risk is exposure to various parasites and diseases such as heartworm, ticks, hookworms, fleas, and mange.

Selecting a boarding facility

Stop by a boarding facility and visit with the owner. Get acquainted with the people who will be caring for your dog. Ask questions; take nothing for granted. Are toys or bedding welcome? How will your dog be exercised? What will the facility feed my dog? Talk about safety features. Discuss frankly any qualms you may have about boarding. They will appreciate your frankness and interest.

The experienced staff members at a facility are trained to recognize the warning signs of potential health problems and will contact a veterinarian if they feel it is called for. Many times it is easier for the pet care provider to detect problems than it is for the owner of the dog. A good example is blood in the urine: A warning sign that deserves attention can more easily be detected in the boarding facility than at home because the dog is exercised in a specific area that is cleaned regularly. It is not, however, part of the pet care provider’s job to diagnose or to prescribe. If your dog does require veterinary care while being boarded, you should be aware that you—the pet’s owner—are financially responsible for such care. Discuss, before boarding, any medication or special care your dog might need. Many boarding facilities offer specialized play programs such as playschool and nature walks.

During boarding it is possible that dogs might step in their stools or urine and become dirty. This can happen in the cleanest of facilities. Also, some of the finest disinfectants available for sanitizing are not always the most pleasant smelling, and the odor may cling to your dog’s coat. Bathing or grooming may be a welcome solution. Advise the pet care provider if you want your dog to have a bath on the day he or she goes home. Make certain you understand the rate structure for all services and hours of operation. The fee for boarding includes the care of your pet, as well as the peace of mind that goes with knowing that he or she is safe and with someone you can trust.

A working partnership

When you have selected your boarding facility, keep in mind that successful boarding is the result of the partnership between you and the manager, working together for the best interest of your dog. As a responsible pet owner there are a few things you must attend to before bringing your dog in to board. Make certain all immunizations are current. The manager  willbe happy to discuss the immunization requirements with you. Your pet should be free of internal and external parasites and not have been exposed to any contagious diseases. Do not feed your dog for at least four hours prior to boarding to minimize the possibility of stomach upset. Boarding is a great alternative, but separation from the family or being in strange surroundings can produce stress in your dog. And stress can result in lowered resistance to disease and sometimes even temporary  changes in behavior. Be sure to inform the boarding facility of any special idiosyncrasies or medical problems your dog may have (history of epilepsy or fear of thunder, etc.) that may assist in keeping your dog healthy and happy.

Dogs should be prepared psychologically for boarding. It’s best, of course, to begin with a puppy as soon as the immunization program is complete. (Puppies usually learn very quickly  to enjoy boarding.) Some boarding facilities offer daycare services enabling you to leave your dog for a few hours at a time. This is an excellent way to introduce your dog to boarding. After just a few visits your dog accepts a pet care facility as a normal way of life. The psychological preparation of a dog for boarding— and also for helping to develop a healthy personality— includes getting your dog used to new people and experiences (socialization). This is probably most easily accomplished by taking him or her through obedience classes, spending a few days at a dog daycare, and occasionally boarding him or  her.

Naturally, a dog who is relaxed about boarding is more likely to board well. (A pet owner sometimes needs reminding that it is not beneficial to lament over the dog in the front office before leaving, nor should the suitcases come out the day before the trip—both of these things cause the dog to be unnecessarily upset.)

Now that your best friend is home again

When your dog is picked up, he or she will be very excited   tosee you. Do not feed your dog (though he or she will act hungry after getting back to familiar turf) for at least three hours, and then be very careful not to overfeed. Also, excitement might cause your dog to pant a lot and become thirsty. Give a few ice cubes to hold him or her over until feeding time. Again, in a happy, excited state, excessive food and water consumption can create problems. The vast majority of dogs view their stay at the boarding facility as a vacation. Relax and enjoy your trip.

Let's Talk About Canine Cough

Let's Talk About Canine Cough

 One of the issues  for pet care facilities continues to be a muchmisunderstood disease in dogs called “canine cough,” tracheobronchitis, or often improperly referred to as “kennel cough.” As a dog owner you should be aware of some of the facts about this disease.

What is “Canine Cough?”

Infectious tracheobronchitis is a highly contagious, upper- respiratory disease that is spread by any one of three infectious agents (parainfluenza, adenovirus, or Bordetella) or any combination thereof—most often passed on through the air, it can also be transmitted on hands or clothing. The incubation period of the disease is roughly three to ten days and an infected pet may be contagious for three weeks after showing the first signs of illness. The main symptom is a hacking cough, sometimes accompanied by sneezing and nasal discharge, which can last from a few days to several weeks. Although this coughing is very annoying, it does not usually develop into anything more serious; however, just as with a common cold, it can lower the dog’s resistance to other diseases making it susceptible to secondary infections, and so the dog must be observed closely to avoid complications. Canine cough can be an especially serious problem for puppies and geriatric dogs whose immune systems may be weaker.

How is it cured?

Just as in the case of the common cold, tracheobronchitis is not “cured” but must run its course. Many times antibiotics will be prescribed to prevent secondary infection, and sometimes cough suppressants will be prescribed to reduce excessive coughing, but these medications do not attack the disease itself.

 Can my dog be vaccinated to protect him from tracheobronchitis? 

Yes! Vaccines against parainfluenza and adenovirus type 2 (in combination with other vaccines) are routinely used as part of an adult dog’s yearly checkup. Puppies are usually vaccinated for these in combination with distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus in a series of immunizations. Specific, non-routine vaccines are also available for Bordetella bronchiseptica (another cause of canine cough). Although some veterinary practices do not use this vaccination routinely, it should be considered for pets that board, visit a daycare frequently, or for those whose veterinarian recommends it. It is importantto note that the vaccines that are used to prevent this viral disease are made from only one of the over 100 different strains of the virus and therefore are not as effective against some strains as others. Some strains are not included in any vaccine; therefore, there is no prevention against them. Your veterinarian is in the best position to recommend a program of preventative health care management depending on your pet’s needs. In most cases, veterinarians recommend that you obtain vaccinations for canine cough five to seven days before taking your dog to a pet care facility.

Are these viruses a constant problem?

No. Tracheobronchitis, like the flu, is often seasonal – mainly due to the fact that the busiest seasons for pet care facilities tend to be summertime or over holiday periods. It also tends to be epidemic. When veterinarians begin to see cases, they normally come from every pet care facility in town, as well as

from individual dog owners whose dogs did not visit a facility at all. When the outbreak is over, they might not see another case for months.

Does tracheobronchitis occur only in pet care facilities?

No. Since these viruses can be present anywhere, and can travel for considerable distances through the air, they can affect any dog, even one that never leaves its own back yard. But tracheobronchitis is more likely to occur when the concentration of dogs is greater such as at dog shows, kennels, dog daycares, veterinarian offices and hospitals as well as pet shops. Dogs can also be exposed while running loose or while being walked near other dogs, or playing in the park.

Are the chances of catching it greater when a dog is in a boarding kennel or daycare?

Yes. Because, in any pet care facility, a dog encounters two conditions that do not usually exist at home; proximity to a number of potentially contagious dogs, and the stress and excitement of a less familiar environment, which can result in lower resistance to disease (these same factors explain why children are more likely to catch the flu at school, rather than at home). But the more frequently a dog visits a pet care facility, the greater are the chances that it will acquire immunity to the disease. Even during a widespread breakout, only a fairly small percentage of exposed dogs are affected.

Can the boarding kennel or daycare prevent my dog from catching tracheobronchitis?

While the spread of canine cough can be minimized by proper cleaning, isolating obviously sick animals, and properly ventilating the facility, remember that no amount of supervision, sanitation, or personalized care is guaranteed to be 100% effective against the illness. All that a good pet care facility can do is recommend immunization against tracheobronchitis, refuse to admit an obviously sick dog, follow responsible cleaning and sanitation practices, listen and watch for any signs of sickness, and make sure that any dog requiring veterinary attention receives it as quickly as possible. (Strangely, the dog with parainfluenza alone may not appear ill, yet is contagious.) You have a right to expect a pet care facility to provide the best possible care just as that facility has a right to expect you to accept financial responsibility for such care.

Why is Trimming Your Dog's Nails Important

Trimming Dog Nails & Clipping Dog Nails

Why cut your dog’s nails? Unless your dog is so active it wears its nails down, you’ll need to cut them for these reasons:


Nail Trimming & Nail Clipping

  • Torn nails are painful and easily infected requiring soaking and long-term antibiotics or surgical removal.
  • Dogs don’t walk correctly when the nails are too long and this strains the leg muscles and torques the spine.
  • Long nails grow around and into the bottom of the foot. The dewclaw nail will grow into the leg. Ingrown nails are often infected, are always painful, and make some dogs downright mean.
  • Nails help provide traction and increase a pet’s ability to walk and run without slipping. Pets with excessively long nails hurt themselves because they slip and fall.

Why do some dogs’ nails grow so much faster than other dogs’ nails? In pets that don’t exercise by walking or running—which often happens with senior pets, arthritic pets and pets with guardians who are busy—nails are not worn, so they appear to grow too fast. In dogs (and birds) with liver disease, the nails do grow faster than normal. Also, depending on how much your pet walks or plays on concrete, asphalt, or grass will have a influence on how much the nail will naturally wear down.

How to tell if the nails are too long If the nails make a clicking sound when your dog walks, they are probably too long. Hold your dog’s foot and press the toe so that the nail extends fully. If the nail curves beyond the bottom of the toe pad, it’s too long.

Why are the front nails often longer than the back nails? Most dogs propel themselves with their back legs, such as greyhounds do, and wear the back nails down.


What’s the quick? The quick is the fleshy section inside the nail rather like the ink cartridge inside a pen. The quick contains nerves and blood vessels so that cutting it causes pain and bleeding.

How to enjoy cutting nails

  • Start small, make it fun, and use a sharp clipping tool.
  • Have your pet lick peanut butter or liver paste off the clipper. Make your pet happy just to see the clipper.
  • Play games touching the feet with the clipper and giving a treat. If necessary, start the touching high on your pet away from the feet and work down to the toes.
  • Play with the toes every night at bedtime.
  • Play with the toes holding the clipper.
  • Practice holding toes gently extended but keep the rest of your dog’s leg tucked up against its body. Keeping the leg tucked is more comfortable for dogs than is having the leg extended while nails are being cut. When the leg is extended, accidentally twisting the toe while cutting a nail causes a torque that travels up the entire straight leg. If the leg is bent, the torque from a twisted toe travels only as far as the closest flexed joint. Ideally, hold the toe and do not torque it when cutting the nails.
  • Observe where the quick is by working in bright light. Examine the lightly colored nails first and get an idea of where the quick is in the dark nails. Do not trim the lightly colored guide nail until having trimmed the dark nails. As you cut, hold the nail so you can squarely see the cut tip. A black spot appears in the nail as the quick is approached. When you see the black spot, go no further.
  • Hold the toe securely but not in a vice grip and slide the clipper opening down the nail, visually confirming that you are not including hair (this pulls) or toe pad. Clip small bites without twisting the toe. If nails are tough, bath your pet before cutting the nails. Alternatively, cut nails after walking in the rain or swimming.
  • Give your dog a great treat with every successful step down the road toward easy nail cutting.
  • Clip one nail a day until your dog is so happy to have nails cut, it wants you to do them all at once.

What to do if the quick bleeds when trimming nails

  • Recognize that cutting the quick (quicking) causes pain and apologize. Accept your pet’s forgiveness and then completely drop the issue. Feeling guilty or nervous about quicking makes pets anxious.
  • Stop the bleeding by pressing and holding the nail dipped in flour, cornstarch, a bar of soap, or an open capsule of Yunnan Paiyo to form a clot.
  • Have your veterinary technician or groomer show you how they trims nails, and ask them to talk you through doing it until you are no longer nervous. It’s appropriate to pay for their time.
  • Consider use a Dremel tool if you’re paranoid about cutting the quick with a clipper. A Dremel is a rotating stone that sands the nail down so that it’s easier to proceed slowly and there is less likelihood of cutting the quick. Accustom your dog to the sounds and vibrations from a Dremel before you start trimming.