For those of us who have to board our pets when we travel, it can feel like preparing for the unknown. Below we’ve laid out our top tips for making sure your pet’s stay is as well planned as your own trip.

Book your pet’s stay. This may sound obvious, but get in touch with the boarding facility as far ahead of time as possible, especially if you’ll be travelling over a holiday. Not only will this ensure your reservation, but it gives you a chance to review the facility’s requirements and get ready. Ask about vaccine, test, and parasite preventative policies so you can have your pet prepared well in advance of his stay.

Designate an emergency care proxy. Pet health emergencies are rare, but being prepared can alleviate a lot of stress if one occurs while you are away. How will the boarding facility reach you in case of emergency? If you can’t be reached for any reason, consider having a designated person available to act on your behalf. Think ahead about any specific concerns you have for emergency care and discuss them with your agent. Prepare an authorization form (here’s an example) and provide copies to your agent, boarding facility, and veterinarian ahead of time.

Buy extra food and refill medications. Prepare enough of your pet’s normal food for her stay, plus some extra, just in case. Call your veterinarian well ahead of time and make sure you have plenty of your pet’s medication. Don’t forget about doses of flea and tick or heartworm preventatives that will be due while you are gone.

Pack a few home comforts. While your pet is away from you, a few familiar items can make an unfamiliar environment feel comfortable. His normal bed or blanket, a few toys, or a shirt that smells like you are good options. Tip: don’t wash that homey smell out!

Include extreme weather necessities. Joliet is no stranger to adverse weather, and your pet probably has some gear for the worst days. If you’ll be away during the winter, make sure to pack booties or coats.

Anticipate anxietyDoes your pet get anxious when you are away or when she is in new environments? Some cats and dogs aren’t used to the sights and sounds of a boarding kennel and may need help relaxing. Anxious cats may refuse to eat and anxious dogs can get upset stomachs or bark excessively. Talk to your boarding facility about how they handle pets who get anxious and how they are prepared to intervene. Facilities with Fear Free training are a good option if you know your pet is anxious, as they will be set up to minimize stress and trained to act at the first signs of an issue. At ERAH, we make sure every patient is evaluated by our medical team on a daily basis, and we can rearrange the kennel environment—or even give an antianxiety medication—if your pet is upset. Your pet’s stay should be a calm experience!

Once you know your four-legged family member is set up for a good stay, you can sit back and enjoy your own vacation!

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