Pet Boarding Essentials to Pack for Your Fur Baby

A dog and cat in a luggage representing essential items that fur babies need for pet boarding

When it's time for that well-deserved vacation, or when commitments take you away from home, pet boarding is a fantastic option for ensuring your beloved furry friends are well cared for in your absence. 

However, for your dogs and cats to have a comfortable and stress-free stay, it's crucial to pack the right essentials. In this article, we'll explore the must-have items to pack when preparing your pets for their stay at a pet boarding facility.

What’s in This Guide?

What is Pet Boarding?

Pet boarding establishments, also known as pet hotels, refer to establishments where pet parents can temporarily entrust their fur babies when the need arises. Pet boarding establishments provide a secure and closely monitored environment for dogs and cats while their owners are away —- whether it’s for the holidays, vacations, business trips, and so on.

Typically, pet boarding establishments provide individual accommodations for the dog or cat, daytime activities, meal service, fresh water, and other add-on services.

Note: Some pet boarding establishments may include meal service (but not meals themselves) included in their base rates. In such cases, purchasing the meals separately or packing meals for your fur baby will be needed. It’s always best to ask about meal inclusions prior to booking a stay for your dog or cat.

A cat eating food while staying in a pet boarding establishment

Essentials Your Pet Needs for Pet Boarding

1. Vaccine Records for Dogs & Cats

Some pet boarding services will require vaccine records, showing that the dog or cat has updated pet vaccinations. This is a standard requirement that prevents the spread of disease and ensures the safety of all pet boarders. 

The most common dog vaccines required in pet boarding establishments are the following: 

  • Rabies vaccine for dogs;
  • DHPP vaccine; and
  • Bordetella vaccine.

Meanwhile, the common cat vaccines required in pet boarding establishments are the following: 

  • Rabies vaccine for cats;
  • FVRCP vaccine; and 
  • FeLV vaccine.

Note: Each pet boarding establishment may have different sets of required vaccines. It is recommended to reach out and ask in advance.

2. Medications & Heartworm Preventives

If your pet requires medication, ensure you provide an ample supply of their medications, along with clear instructions. Because flight delays and travel nuances may occur, it will be helpful to pack extra medications that can last for a few days.

In addition, it’s very important that all dogs and cats (indoor pets or otherwise) get their regular heartworm preventive medication. Missed heartworm preventives can put pets at more risk of getting heartworm, a dangerous and common parasite, carried by mosquitos. 

Oral heartworm preventives are typically administered on a monthly basis. If your pet needs their heartworm preventives at any point during their pet boarding stay, make sure to pack their heartworm preventive medication, along with instructions on when to administer it

Note: For dogs, heartworm treatment can be strenuous on their body— meanwhile, there is currently NO drug to treat heartworm in cats (as of the writing of this article.) This makes heartworm prevention all the more crucial for both dogs and cats.

A dog getting heartworm medication while in a pet boarding establishment

3. Collar, Leash, ID Tags, & Microchipping (Checked)

Before drop-off day at the pet boarding facility, make sure your pet wears a collar with updated identification tags and contact information. For dog parents, it’s also advisable to pack a sturdy leash for any walks or outdoor activities during their stay.

Some establishments may also require pet microchipping. Make sure to check in advance. In any case, having your pet microchipped before boarding is a good practice. Pet microchips serve as permanent identification and may also aid in cases when pets run away. 

4. Emergency Contact Information

In case of an emergency or any unexpected situation, provide the pet boarding facility with multiple contact numbers where you can be reached. You can also include the contact information of a trusted friend or family member who can act or make decisions on your behalf. For the latter, it would be preferable to choose a trusted contact who also stays near the area, should their presence be required. 

5. Pet Food with Feeding Instructions

As mentioned earlier, pet boarding establishments typically include meal service.  However, in some establishments, pet food may be required from the pet parent or purchased separately, on top of the boarding rate.

In case you need to pack pet food for your fur baby, make sure to pack enough for their entire stay, along with a little extra for a few days — just in case any travel hiccups or flight delays occur.

Cat food packed for a cat going to a pet boarding facility

6. Special Instructions

Every pet is unique, and it's crucial to communicate any special instructions or preferences your pet may have. These special instructions can include dietary restrictions, specific routines, or behavioral quirks, — these ensure that the pet boarding staff are well-informed to provide the best care possible.

Additional Items to Help Your Dog or Cat Feel Right at Home

7. Familiar Bedding and Blankets

Though most cat and dog boarding facilities will provide bedding, it may be helpful to pack some bedding, cushions, or blankets for your fur baby. 

Pets are creatures of habit and find comfort in their scent and the feel of familiar fabrics. Therefore, bringing their own bedding helps make the pet boarding experience feel more like home.

8. Toys

To keep your pet mentally stimulated and comforted during their pet boarding stay, pack their favorite toys and comfort items. This could be their cherished squeaky toy, kicker pillow, or anything else that provides them with comfort and entertainment.

A dog playing with a squeaky toy while in a pet boarding establishment

9. Grooming Supplies

In some pet boarding facilities, grooming can be purchased as an additional service, on top of the base boarding rate. These pet boarding facilities would likely have their own grooming supplies. 

However,  pet parents can still opt to pack along preferred grooming supplies, depending on the needs of their pet. 

10. Kitty Litter

Most cat boarding facilities provide a litter box and regular litter box cleaning. Some establishments may supply the kitty litter themselves, while others may require pet parents to pack this item along. In any case, it’s always best to clarify this in advance. 

For cats that are used to or fussy about a certain type of litter, it would be recommended to pack their preferred kitty litter to help them adjust faster to the pet boarding environment. 

Cat Boarding & Dog Boarding in Denver & Chicago

Looking for dog boarding and cat boarding services near Denver or Chicago? Here are some helpful guides where we talk about our top picks!

The Best Dog Boarding in Denver, CO

The Best Cat Boarding in Denver, CO

The Best Dog Boarding in Chicago, IL

The Best Cat Boarding in Chicago, IL

A dog relaxing in a pet boarding establishment

Final Thoughts on Dog or Cat Boarding

We hope you found this guide on pet boarding essentials helpful! By packing essential items and providing clear instructions about your fur baby, you can ensure your dog or cat has a comfortable pet boarding experience.

If your pet needs updated pet vaccines, vaccine records, microchipping, parasite preventives, or a wellness exam before pet boarding, we’re here to help!

Sploot Veterinary Care is your go-to veterinary clinic for primary & urgent care. We offer unparalleled convenience with our easy online bookings and daily appointment availability. Schedule an appointment today! We are open for extended hours, across all our vet clinic locations.

Till next time,  we’re with you every pounce of the way!