BOARDING YOUR SENIOR DOG Dogs thrive on routine. Vacations are exciting for people; not so much for dogs, as it means a change in their day-to-day patterns, which can be traumatic for them. This is especially true for older dogs. If you cannot keep your dog with a family member or trusted pet sitter who can stay in your home while you're away, it's important to be aware of the risks of placing him or her in a boarding facility. Senior dogs have special needs and often require extra care. Be sure the facility you choose to board your pet with is equipped to handle those needs. The staff at the boarding facility should have the knowledge, understanding, and compassion necessary to give the extra attention necessary to senior dogs to ensure they are as comfortable away from home. Young dogs are often able to handle stressors better than older dogs for a variety of reasons. Even if your older dog acts like a puppy, they can be experiencing the onset of diseases like arthritis or even a decrease in their senses like seeing and hearing. In fact, senior dogs are notorious for acting normal on the outside despite any illness they may have. Senior dogs might have medical conditions like heart disease, hip dysplasia, or diabetes, that require medicine. In addition, their immune systems are not as strong, so they can have a hard time fighting illness and may take longer to heal. Your senior dog may also need special food that’s easier to digest. And they definitely need more frequent potty breaks. Some special considerations when choosing a boarding facility for your older pet: 1. Do a full assessment of your dog’s health prior to boarding and let the kennel know of any special issues your pet may have. If time allows, have your senior pet see its veterinarian prior to a boarding stay to have an updated review of its health. Provide a written list of conditions and medications to the kennel so they can be aware of and address everything while your dog is in their care. 2. If your pet has incontinence issues, which is pretty common with older dogs, provide extra, washable bedding that can be easily laundered in a washing machine. 3. Let the kennel know if your dog is showing signs of slower movement/sore joints. Kennel staff can prepare for the additional time it may take to exercise your dog. They can also keep these conditions in mind when planning play time in the yard with other dogs. It's important that the kennel groups older dogs according to their size and temperament, which will help lower stress levels for your senior pooch. 4. Inform kennel staff of any changes in eating and drinking behavior. Older dogs usually require less food than younger dogs because their activity levels are lower. 5. Geriatric dogs may have a slower metabolism, which can make them more susceptible to cold temperatures. Provide a sweater or extra blankets in case the temperature of the kennel is colder than what your dog is used to. 6. Environment - Kennels can be very loud and busy, especially during the holidays, which can increase your dog's stress. Younger dogs can handle this better, especially if they are already socialized and have experience in daycare. Check out the boarding facility and its environment to see if you think it is a good fit for your dog.⠀⠀⠀ 7. Exercise - Your senior dog will benefit from a moderate amount of exercise and activity - it can help him cope with any anxiety he's feeling in your absence. Find a facility that will accommodate those needs. This is what you should pack for your dog's stay at a boarding facility to help him or her feel more secure while you're away: - your dog’s preferred food - medications - directions for administering medication - veterinarian contact info - emergency contact information - favorite toys - dog bed - shirt that smells like you, or other comforting items What we provide that may give you some peace of mind when boarding your senior pet: Because of all of the considerations a senior pet demands, we believe it may be better to have a petsitter that you trust to come to your house and stay with your elderly dog while you are away. If that is not possible, we will gladly accommodate your pet once you acknowledge our concerns. We do everything possible to make your dog is comfortable while he or she stays with us. Because of a dog's natural stoic nature, it's not always easy to determine when they are not feeling well. But as soon as it becomes apparent, you will receive a phone call and your dog will be taken for a medical evaluation at Metzger's Animal Hospital in State College. Please be prepared to cover possible medical costs while your dog is in our care. Things such as diarrhea, lethargy, and seizures will result in a trip to the animal hospital in an effort to avert illness or the death of your pet. Thank you for your understanding.