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Avoid the doghouse
Thursday June 2nd 2011
April 20 2011
Truffle threat to Crufts debut
This summer, many dogs will be spending time at kennels in the UK as sun seeking Brits leave their pets in search of a break. Pet insurer helpucover.co.uk, warns that although many places will be only too happy to look after Fido for a fortnight it could mean abject misery for your faithful friend whilst you're away, so it pays to choose wisely. With over 4,000 kennels and cattery operators in the UK1 there are many to choose from; but how do you make the best choice?
Although all boarding and breeding kennels are licensed and inspected by the local authority (i.e. county council) standards can vary.
Vet Dr Eric Jackson points out how a bad experience in kennels can leave our beloved pets with health issues and behavioural problems.
"The closer the human-pet bond at home the more impact separation at kennels will have on a pet. Hygiene and rigorous cleaning procedures are also crucially important if animals are to avoid health issues - especially kennel cough. Although dogs can be protected against some of the bugs causing kennel cough but not all vaccinated dogs will avoid picking up the infection."
So how should pet owners avoid the pitfalls of subjecting their precious pet to a fortnight of misery? Although prices for an overnight stay can vary between £10 and £503, price should not be the only thing to influence your decision. helpucover says people should consider the following points when selecting a kennel:-
* Always try to go on personal recommendation from someone who has a similar dog to your own
* Consider using kennels owned by a registered breeder for your type of dog
* Visit a short list of at least three kennels to select the one right for your dog
* Make a note of how many staff are available to exercise your pet
* Ask who lives on the site overnight? Will your dog be left unattended?
* How much barking is there? If there is it could be a sign that dogs are bored, left unattended for long periods and are insufficiently exercised
* Can dogs be seen exercising or looking out from runs?<
* What size are the runs?
* How clean are the pens your pet will sleep in? Does it look like the bedding and floor coverings have been changed regularly?
* Check the sleeping areas and see that there is adequate ventilation, bedding and heating
* Ask about feeding arrangements and ask to see the kitchen area where food is prepared. Is it clean?
* Ask about sickness levels and whether there is a quarantine area and veterinary cover if animals get sick
* Ensure your pet's vaccinations are all up to date - check with your vet BEFORE you take your dog to kennels. A good kennel should not let you leave your animal without asking for to see an up to date vaccination card
* If your pet is on pills always ensure that the dose and frequency instructions are clearly written down
* When you leave your dog if you really want to ensure their comfort in kennels leave an old item of your clothing and a gift such as a new toy or chew to keep them occupied
Mick Gorham knows only too well the importance of getting your choice of kennel right and the consequences if you don't. Last September Mick and his wife left their Golden Retriever Loui in kennels whilst they went to Egypt. Mick says "When we went to collect Loui we were horrified by the state of him. He was soaking wet and smelt strongly of urine. Loui would not look at us and his behaviour was really subdued for several days after we got him home. After our experience, we were dreading having to use kennels again. However, we were recommended another kennel and reluctantly left Loui for eight days. When we went to collect him, he was bouncing around and was happy. There was such difference in his character. I knew he had had proper exercise and fun. It was as though he had enjoyed his own holiday too."
1Tourism Insights - Author Martin Evans
2(Pet Advisory Committee) - The Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1951 provides little detail on the standards expected of boarding establishments. However enforcement varies significantly between local authorities as they are enabled to set their own standards and inspection regimes. The production by governments of secondary legislation and a Code of Practice would rule out such anomalies.