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Originally published September 6 2008

Safety Tips for Placing Your Pet in the Care of Others

by Susan Thixton

(NaturalNews) I recently read an article about a Dog Day Care who had the unfortunate experience of a dog escaping the facility in the middle of the day and no one noticed. At the end of the day, the dog's owners (brand new to this daycare) returned to pick up their dog and... no dog. The article did not provide any information if there was a happy ending to the story - so we don't know if Fido returned home.
But what the article did share was that, after the fact, the owners told the day care that the dog was a fence climber. Everyone assumed the little guy (Beagle) climbed the six foot fence and was gone before anyone noticed the escape.

I used to own a kennel and training facility in Louisville, KY. One time, over the Christmas and New Years holiday, a new family brought me two Cocker Spaniels to board for two weeks during their vacation. The wife dropped the dogs off and shared with me that both dogs needed to have their ears cleaned every day. Since I was not familiar with the dogs, I questioned the owner about how easily the dogs would allow a stranger to clean their ears. The owner assured me this gets done everyday and that both dogs were fine with it. They seemed friendly enough, so... day one I get the dogs out and played with them a bit to relax them. With my ear cleaner and cotton balls at hand, I went to one of the dogs to begin the cleaning. I promptly received the worst bite (still the record holder) of my entire career working with thousands and thousands of dogs. I thought the dog crushed my finger actually. And he wouldn't let go. It was one of those moments that would have been comical had it not hurt so bad.

While one hand was locked between the jaws of this dog, my other hand had to pry open it's mouth to get my hand back. The dog made a very strong point he didn't want his ears cleaned! Fast forward two weeks to when the owners were to pick up the dogs... this time it was the husband who picked them up (wife dropped them off). As soon as he came in the door I informed him that the dogs never got their ears cleaned and that the male bit me badly on my first attempt. His reply, "oh yeah, I'm sorry, they bite us all the time too!"

The point to my sharing these stories is this -- when you take your pet to a Groomer or Vet or Kennel or where ever, please tell the pet care provider things that you know about your pet's behavior and/or personality. Had the dog Day Care known the Beagle was a fence climber, they could have (should have) taken precautions to make sure the little guy did not escape. Had the owners of the Cockers shared with me that they bite when their ears are cleaned, their ears would have stayed in good health and my fingers in better health! I've got a million more stories just like the two above. My advice to you is to tell the pet professionals that work with you and your pet anything and everything they might need to know. This information will keep your pet safer and healthier; and keeps the pet professional online to do their job to their best ability.

On the other hand, there are many pet care providers out there that just don't care enough. I've seen many of them -- and I cringe when I think about the heartbreak they could cause because of their reckless or careless behavior. I wish I could tell you exactly how to avoid those types of pet professionals, but I can't. I can however give you some suggestions from the perspective of someone who took care of pets for a living.

1. Everything in the pet business should be clean, clean, clean! I'm not kidding when I say this -- my kennel and training facility was cleaner than my home. And I firmly believe that if the pet business owner doesn't care enough about the cleanliness of the facility, what else don't they care about? The business doesn't have to be 'state of the art' modern, but it should be very clean.

2. Meet the staff -- not just the person at the desk. Try to meet, look in the eye, and talk with as many of the employees as you can. That's a little difficult -- especially from the business owner's perspective - but those are the folks that will be caring for your baby, try your best.

3. Get references - and call those references. There is nothing better to calm the nerves of a nervous pet owner than to talk with other pet owners who have experienced the care provided by this pet business.

4. Depending on your state, some pet care businesses are guided by local Animal Control licensing. If that is the case in your state, call the licensing agency and ask about any reports of abuse or misconduct with this business. At the very least, check with the BBB (Better Business Burough).

Tips for boarding pets:

If you are boarding a pet for the first time, don't make it a week long stay for the very first boarding experience. Do at least one 1 night-er before any long stay. If you look at it from your pet's perspective -- they don't understand why you are leaving them in this 'place'. The most anxious of pets can handle a one night-er and it will give them confidence that you will return for them. And if the kennel allows it -- bring 'things' from home. A couple of toys and the best is an old t-shirt you've recently worn and not washed. That t-shirt has 'home' smells on it and it helps to give them a little comfort. I get a little nervous about bones at a kennel -- you never know what could happen with bones (swallowing a big piece, it splinters and is swallowed, and so forth). If you do provide a bone for your dog, make sure it is a pork hide bone, they are the most digestible. Any bedding can be torn to shreds in the blink of an eye, so only take bedding that you can afford to lose (I've got stories about this too!).

Many kennels allow pets from the same family to board in the same room. I always did this, but I can tell you for certain, this isn't always the best thing either. Just imagine if you and your sister were put into a small room together for a week. Everyone can get a little grumpy after a couple of days. And things can get even more interesting when it comes to meal times. If you board pets together -- make sure there is plenty of playtime and out of the 'room' activity.

I would suggest you bring your own food - you don't want to add a change in diet to the stress of being away from home. And do the kennel a favor and put meal servings into baggies, all ready to serve. For cats, I would even suggest bringing your own litter. Keep things as normal as possible.
Always have updated immunizations, provide good emergency numbers and information, and make sure to tell the kennel of any behaviors they might need to know to keep your pet safe.

One more story... a big beautiful Golden Retriever was brought to my business to board (first time). The dog was very friendly and I saw no problems for him during his stay. Several days into his week, all the morning chores were done so I locked the door and took care of some errands. During the short time I was away a pretty loud thunder storm blew up. What I didn't know was that this big gentle dog was afraid of storms -- very afraid of storms. I returned to find blood all over the floor of his room from him scratching and biting the walls, the door, everything to get away from the storm. He was fine - a little shook up - but fine. And yes, his owners got an earful from me when they returned. This poor dog should have not had to experience that much trauma all by himself, all they needed to do was tell me about his fears.

Talk to the folks that help care for your pet, something you might consider unimportant just might end up being necessary information to properly care for your baby.

Wishing you and your pet the best,

Susan Thixton

About the author

Susan Thixton has an international pet people following providing dog and cat lovers a trusted source for pet food and pet food ingredient information. She's been called courageous, perseverant, even "the Caped Crusader for Pets" for her 16 year study of pet food. Susan Thixton is the author of hundreds of pet industry articles and the 2006 released book Truth About Pet Food (currently being updated for a second edition). She developed and publishes the pet product consumer magazine Petsumer Report and is a frequent speaker and radio guest all over the U.S. and Canada with more than 70 appearances in the last 2 years.
If you are looking for straight forward pet food information that can have an almost immediate impact on your pet's health - subscribe to the free newsletter, and subscribe to Petsumer Report to see reviews of close to 700 dog and cat foods and treats (adding 40+ each month). Susan Thixton's 'truth' will help you find a safer, healthier dog or cat food that could add years to your pet's life. http://www.TruthAboutPetFood.com





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