If you’re a dog lover and owner, like me, you know the added challenges pet ownership can throw into any vacation plans. A growing number of hotels across the U.S. are catering to canines, offering everything from welcome goodie bags to enclosed dog runs. Some even have staff that will walk your dog while you’re out. But if it’s not possible to bring your dog along on vacation, here are a few tips on how to find first-rate care for your canine.

It can be tough leaving your pet behind when you vacation. The preferred option for many is to have a reliable friend, family member, or neighbor come to your home several times a day to feed, water, exercise, and spend time with your dog. You could also hire a professional pet-sitter to perform these duties.

Canine massage- just one of the services offered at Denver's Paradise for Paws. photo courtesy: Paradise for Paws

Canine massage- just one of the services offered at Denver’s Paradise 4 Paws. photo courtesy: Paradise 4 Paws

Another solution is to board your dog at a reputable kennel. Prices and services for kennels vary. You can choose the bare bones version- boarding your dog at the vet’s vet’s office. Or you can go with high-end kennels that provide a whole host of services, from training, to grooming, even canine massage.

One convenient option is a chain of boarding facilities that have opened near airports. Paradise 4 Paws has facilities located near Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports and near Denver’s Airport. Johanna Newcomb, Chief Operating Officer at Paradise 4 Paws, says getting a trusted reference is always the best way to go. “Ask family members, neighbors and friends for their recommendations, and of course your vet is a trusted source,” says Newcomb. “If they don’t have any ideas, try to find client testimonials and reviews on-line.” Newcomb has her own advice on what to ask when finding a kennel.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Boarding Kennel

Boarding: Paradise for Paws has facilities near Chicago's O'Hare and Midway Airports and Denver International Airport. photo courtesy: Paradise for Paws

Paradise 4 Paws has facilities near Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports and Denver International Airport. photo courtesy: Paradise 4 Paws

Consider the needs of your pet:
-Is your dog very active and needs lots of playtime?
-Does your dog have separation anxiety and need a quieter space?
-How much space do they need to be comfortable?
-Does your dog like to play with other dogs?
-Do they have any special medical needs?
-Would your dog be more comfortable in a cage or a room?

Think about what is most important to you:
-Would you like to be able to check in on your pet on a webcam?
-Do you need 24-hour access?
-Are other services available such as training, grooming, veterinary care?

Make time for a tour, which can offer you an opportunity to meet the staff:
– How do they engage with you, your pet and/or other pets?
– Are they attentive, caring and knowledgeable?

Familiarize yourself with  facility:
– Is the facility clean inside and out?
– Is there good ventilation and lighting?
– Is the temperature comfortable throughout the facility?
– Is there an outside play area?Product Review disclosure

See where and how your dog will be roomed.
– Are the rooms clean?
– Is water accessible to your pet?
– Is bedding provided? If so, what kind? If not, can you bring your own?
– Will your pet have private space or share their space with others?
– Learn the daily schedule for feeding, playtimes, potty breaks, etc.

Once you have decided on a boarding facility, ask about their requirements, such as:
-What vaccinations to be current on (i.e. Bordetella, rabies, distemper).
-Do they ask for a current Fecal Exam?
-Behavioral evaluation and/or trial daycare?
-Application / registration form?

boarding

The dog pool at Denver’s Paradise 4 Paws. photo courtesy: Paradise for Paws

Tips for Traveling With Dogs

If you are able to bring your dog along on vacation, here are a few of the rules of the road, for your next road trip with Fido. Dog behaviorist Cesar Millan recommends dogs fast for at least six hours before travel. The American Kennel Club advises travelers carry a recent picture of their pet in case they need help locating it. Since most owners have as many pictures of their dog on their phone as their kids and grandkids, that should be an easy one!

The Top Dog Suite at Denver's Paradise for Paws. Photo courtesy: Paradise for Paws

The Top Dog Suite at Denver’s Paradise 4 Paws. Photo courtesy: Paradise 4 Paws

Melissa Halliburton, founder of bringfido.com and author of “Ruff Guide to the United States,” has these tips for traveling with your dog:

  • Exercise your dog before a long trip so Fido can rest while in transit.
  • On road trips, keep your dog hydrated and plan to make appropriate stops so your pooch can stretch his legs and do his business.
  • Bring vaccination records. Also, make sure your dog is wearing a tag with information about where you can be reached en route.
  • Bring familiar toys from home for comfort.
  • Download the BringFido app. It’s got info on more than 25,000 dog-friendly hotels, restaurants and attractions while on the road.