What to expect from your dog’s first boarding stay

Much like sending a child off to summer camp or to their first overnight sleepover, there are certain things that parents all worry about. How will they get along with the other kids? Are they going to like the food? What if they don’t eat what’s provided? What if they get sick? Being a dog owner and leaving your dog for their first boarding stay is no different and the concerns are similar. To help ease your mind, here’s a list of things to keep in mind about your four legged friend’s first stay – these are all normal and are no cause for alarm, so let that put your mind at rest a little more.

EATING – For already finicky eaters, being introduced to a new place with a new schedule can be all the reason they need to pick at their food or ignore it entirely. During their stay, the staff will make a note of every meal that your dog misses and will make adjustments to their diet according to the information we have in the system regarding their dietary needs, as well as our experience from other dogs. If your dog misses three consecutive meals, we’ll go ahead and use incentives as a means to try and get them to eat. We use organic chicken broth, organic cottage cheese or organic chicken, sprinkled over the meals as an incentive to get dogs to eat both it and their regular kibble. Even regular, happy eaters can sometimes be stressed by the change in routine, prompting them to act unlike themselves with regards to their eating. This is a larger issue in slightly more anxious or older animals, so if your dog falls into either of those categories, don’t be too surprised if their eating is a little sporadic.

ILLNESS – Though we do require vaccinations for Bordetella, Distemper, Influenza and Rabies, sometimes dogs still do come home with a bit of an upset stomach. If eating our house food, this can often be caused by the sudden switch from their usual food over to what we have on hand; as a general rule, dogs should be introduced to new food gradually, to prevent this kind of indigestion. If you’ve brought their food with them, then diarrhea is most likely caused by stress induced gastroenteritis. Most domesticated animals are familiar with their routines and a change to such a regular situation can cause them stress. This in turn has some physical manifestations in the form of inflammation of the gut lining, causing loose stool. Rest assured that the stress is simply something that comes with a change in usual; much the way that humans can be stressed by the simple act of changing a work shift, or eating dinner at a different time. If your dog does come down with some diarrhea while they’re visiting with us, we use pureed organic pumpkin to help with digestive regularity, or our IP kibble, bought from the vet specifically to control and ease upset stomachs. Either of these are great options for handling digestive upset.

If for some reason, your canine pal is under the weather for any other reason while they stay, our staff will promptly get in touch with you and the veterinarian of record, to bring them in and get them checked out, so they’ll be back to their usual selves in no time. If for some reason we’re unable to get an appointment with your vet, we’ll use our emergency vet; Sage Veterinary Center. Rest assured that we’ll keep you up to date with your dog’s progress and what the outcome of any visit is.

LETHARGY – There is a very good chance that when your dog comes home, they’re going to be very tired. This isn’t because they aren’t given enough time to rest, but rather that they’re given far more time to run and play than they generally get out of their regular routine. Since the dogs spend upwards of ten hours in the yards, they are interacting with other dogs and socializing, even if they aren’t necessarily running and playing. As you may have experienced, even the simple act of socialization for long periods of time can take its toll on your energy level. When they finally get home from their stay with us, often they need a day or two to get back to their normal energy levels, once they’ve settled back into their regular schedule. Unless this lethargy is prolonged, there’s no reason to be alarmed.

WATER INTAKE – Though the dogs have access to fresh water all day, often they’re simply too excited and busy playing to remember to drink. This means that when they finally slow down at home, their water intake may greatly increase. We monitor dogs in the yard for signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration and will bring them inside and provide extra water to them, if we notice them suffering from either of these conditions. The same way that kids don’t remember to drink unless reminded, excitable dogs are the exact same way. They simply don’t realize how long they’re going without water and when they do drink, they have to make up for several hours of being too busy with their friends.

WEIGHT LOSS – With the increased level of activity that the dogs experience while they’re with us, it’s not uncommon for them to lose a little weight during their stay. This is particularly true of long term stays (seven days or more). To monitor this, long term stays have observation reports done so we can track weekly weights for the dogs. For long term stays, we’ll also go ahead and get permission from you to increase the amount of food we feed them each meal. With ten or more hours a day running around and playing with their friends, it’s no surprise that they might need a little more food to keep going.