Going on vacation? What are you going to do with your pets?

As families gear up for their summer vacation, our friends at the Better Business Bureau Serving E. MA, ME, RI & VT offers advice for pet owners looking for a safe place to house their furry friend.

Last year, consumers inquired to BBB about pet boarding and kennels over 153,800 times. Many consumers also filed complaints about boarding facilities, some that alleged problems with billing, as well as concerns about the treatment of their pet.

“When I look for a boarding kennel for my puppy, I look for one that gives her quality care as well as peace of mind for me while I’m away,” said Paula Fleming, Vice President of the BBB Serving E. MA, ME, RI & VT. “I try to always plan ahead and do my homework to find a kennel that will provide my pet with the care she deserves.”

pupy falling over

BBB recommends the following tips as a guide to finding a trustworthy kennel this summer:

Plan ahead to make sure you get your first choice. You’ll probably need to make a reservation well in advance, especially if you want to board your pet during holidays or popular vacation times.

Ask for recommendations. Turn to friends and family members who own animals or who your veterinarian recommendations. Check with BBB for Accredited kennels listed on our Accredited Business Directory. Make sure to check out their BBB Business Review before making a final decision.

Personally visit the facilities. Check for cleanliness and note the overall safety of the kennel and cages. Ask to see all of the places your pet may be taken. If your pet is prone to running away, ask about steps the kennel takes to make the facility secure.

Ask about interactions between animals. Some kennels let animals play together while others keep them separate at all times. Make sure the facility requires that all entering pets have proof of immunization. Also ask about its policies regarding flea and tick control.

Take notice of the staff. Ask about the background and experience of company staff and take a few moments to see how they interact with the other pets that are being boarded.

Ask if you can bring food or toys. Bringing your pet’s own food to a kennel may reduce the chance of diarrhea or upset stomach. Also check to see if the kennel allows you to bring any special toys, blankets, treats, or bedding for your pet.

Thoroughly read the boarding agreement. Verify it includes the feeding and exercise schedule as well as pick up and drop off hours. Some facilities offer bathing, nail trimming and immunization as additional services. Make sure these and any other additional fees, like medical emergencies or other care, are included in the agreement.

Have a backup plan. Make sure you have a local friend, family member or veterinarian you can trust in case of emergencies.