BEFORE MY PET'S VISIT…
Q: What should I bring when I board my pet?
A: Your pet’s own food - doing so avoids additional stress on the pet’s digestive system. Please pack the food in pre-portioned baggies for each meal, or in a small sealed container (like Tupperware) with instructions. Please do not bring a giant bag or container of food, unless your pet is staying for an extended period (multiple weeks). You also need to bring any prescription drugs and/or over-the-counter supplements we will be administering to your pet. You may also bring any emergency medications for seizures, bee stings, etc. that you feel your pet might need.
We know that many pet parents also want to bring personal belongings such as their pet’s bedding, their favorite toys, or clothing articles of their owners. Unfortunately, we cannot permit this because of the risk of contamination or infestation (fleas or bed bugs). Dangerous germs, to which your pet may have developed immunity, may threaten other guests who do not have immunity to a particular illness. Moreover, some bedding and toys can be overnight choke hazards. Keep in mind that we provide comfortable bedding and stainless-steel bowls in each suite. So for safety reasons, we will not put these items in your pet’s room even if you pack them. Rest assured that pets are too exhausted to play with toys when they’re in their room anyway. Since The Island Pawplex will not be responsible for lost items, please consider packing lightly for your pet -- just the essentials: food and medicine. We’ll provide the rest!
Q: My dog is not used to wearing a collar at home. Does he have to wear one at your facility?
A: Yes. At times, we have to direct a pet to a play yard, room, or suite by holding onto his collar, since pets are not leashed at The Island Pawplex. There is also the rare chance that a fight could break out in the play yard. In this case, we have to be able to pull off the aggressor by his collar. Please do not send choker-style collars since these can be dangerous in the play setting.
Q: Are dog fights common at The Island Pawplex?
A: No. We take our screening process very seriously and require all dogs to undergo the mandatory temperament test to determine if a dog is a good fit for a group-play environment. We also separate dogs into play groups based on their size, age, and energy levels. Nevertheless, dog fights are always a possibility, so our staff is trained to react quickly and decisively to prevent serious injury. Do keep in mind, though, that dogs play with their mouths and their feet, both of which are sharp and can accidentally cause minor scratches or cuts to their playmates. These, too, are rare, but always possible.
Q: If my dog fails the temperament test, is he banned from your facility for life?
A: No. Additional training and/or socialization with other dogs (as well as spaying or neutering, if applicable) may help your pet to react differently in the future. In many cases, however, dogs that do not pass the temperament screening the first time will not behave differently over time. This does not mean that your dog is “bad”. This simply means that you have a dog who prefers the company of humans to that of other dogs. A dog walking service or in-home pet sitter would likely be a better option for your pup.
Q: I had my dog at the park a few days ago, and he seems to have caught something. He has a runny nose, and he’s sneezing. I’m scheduled to board him this weekend. Is it still okay to bring him?
A: While dog parks are wonderful places to exercise our pets, they are also venues for unvaccinated dogs to mingle with vaccinated ones. This poses serious issues for facilities like ours, since socialized pets tend to frequent both places. In an effort to keep our environment safe and healthy, we request that our guests avoid dog parks for a few days prior to scheduled boarding as a courtesy to us and the pets we serve. We also respectfully request that pet owners do not bring any pet that has a cough, runny nose, or ear/eye infection, as these illnesses may be contagious. It would be more ideal to board a sick pet with your veterinarian where his symptoms may be treated and contained. We do understand that some senior pets have chronic coughs related to health issues which are not contagious, and we certainly welcome those pets. Please notify us upon arrival if your pet has a chronic health condition so we do not treat it as a contagious illness and quarantine your pet.
Q: I only use natural flea preventatives and Hartz Flea Collars on my dog because I don’t believe in using the prescription treatments. Is this okay?
A: While we certainly respect your decision to do what you feel is best for your pet, we cannot accept her as a boarding guest or a grooming client at The Island Pawplex unless she is completely flea free and adequately protected by a vet-recommended treatment such as Frontline, K9 Advantix, Comfortis, Nexguard, Trifexis, etc. Please follow directions for topical treatments such as Frontline and apply it the proper number of days ahead of time. It is vital that we protect all of our guests, as well as our grooming clients, which is why we do not offer flea dips or similar treatments at our pet salon.
Q: I plan to breed my 1-year-old so I don’t want to have him neutered yet. Can he still come to your facility?
A: Dogs that are not spayed or neutered typically display behaviors such as excessive mounting that can lead to fights. The pack can also become extremely uneasy around unneutered males in particular, causing them to be less tolerant of persistent aggressive behavior. That being the case, we insist that our guests are spayed/neutered once we see issues starting within the group (usually between 6 and 9 months, with the cutoff for each dog determined on a case by case basis). Absolutely no exceptions will be made for dogs over 12 months of age. Female dogs who are approaching maturity, showing signs of heat, or have been through a heat cycle must be spayed before entering or re-entering group play.
WHILE MY PET IS VISITING…
Q: If my pet gets sick while she is staying at your facility, will you take her to my vet or yours?
A: If our staff determines that veterinary care is necessary, we will make every effort to contact your veterinarian on record. If we are unsuccessful, we will rely on one of our partner veterinarians, depending upon the nature of the illness/injury and the hour of the day. In most cases, we will contact the owner(s) prior to seeking professional care.
Q: What form of discipline do you use to control bad behavior?
A: Our staff is trained to first use very firm, short voice commands (e.g. Leave It! No! Down!) to thwart unwanted behaviors such as mounting or excessive barking. If words are ineffective, the staff uses mini squirt bottles to spray water toward the unruly pet. And if that doesn’t work, we will put the pet in “time out” by separating him from the play group for 15-30 minutes, which is usually a sufficient amount of time for that pet to refocus his attention. All pet discipline is simply designed to break the pet’s focus on the unwanted behavior. In rare, extreme cases (i.e. fights), we have airhorns available that could be deployed to break up the disturbance. Further discipline will only occur when/if there is risk of serious injury to another animal.
Q: What if my plans change and I need to pick up a day or two early?
A: Please provide at least 48 hours of notice for any cancelled boarding nights; this includes cancelling a reservation, checking in on a later date than scheduled, or picking up on an earlier date than scheduled. Many nights we are at capacity for boarding with a waiting list of clients hoping to get a last minute spot, and in order to serve all of our clients effectively and efficiently, we need to be able to accommodate those on the waiting list when we can. Reminders go out via email and text 72 hours before check-in to help ensure that all dates are correct, and to provide plenty of time to change reservation dates if needed.
AFTER MY PET'S VISIT...
Q: My dog hasn’t gotten off the couch since he came home from The Island Pawplex. Is something wrong with him?
A: Not likely! Enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts. Most guests are exhausted from hours of play during their vacation with us, and we would be more surprised if they weren’t. Remember, your pet is probably used to sleeping most of the day at home. Since he has been with us, he has had non-stop stimulation, with the exception of a mid-day nap and overnight rest. That can be pretty taxing on even the most energetic breeds. If he does not seem like himself even after a couple of days of rest, however, you may wish to contact your veterinarian for a wellness check.
Q: Every time I board my dog, he gets diarrhea. Is this serious?
A: Doubtful. Since this happens frequently with your pet, it is most likely stress-induced colitis, which is an inflammation of the colon, oftentimes associated with travel-related stress. The signs of colitis include painful defecation that resembles constipation, flatulence, and small stools mixed with blood and mucus. Most pets will recover from this illness within a day or two when their routine is re-established and stress levels decrease. Again, please consult your veterinarian if symptoms persist or if diarrhea is accompanied by a loss of appetite and/or vomiting. If you did not send your dog’s usual food with him, this could also contribute to the problem. We feed Purina One Lamb and Rice (for $5 per day, per pet) if food was not sent, which is a gentle and high quality option, but changing a diet suddenly can still cause digestive issues. We highly recommend sending your dog’s usual food with him the next time you board with us.
Q: My dog has had a persistent cough for three days. Can this be kennel cough even though she was vaccinated?
A: Unfortunately, it can be. While we take every precaution to ensure that pets go home happy and healthy, it is a communal environment, much like that of a child daycare, where occupants are happy to share anything and everything. Kennel cough in dogs is similar to the common cold in people. It is extremely contagious, not usually dangerous, and there are many strains. The Bordetella vaccine, much like the human flu vaccine, does not protect against each and every strain. The vaccine should, however, shorten the duration of the illness and/or minimize the symptoms of kennel cough should your pet contract it. According to WebMD, “although most cases of kennel cough will resolve without treatment, medications may speed recovery or minimize symptoms during the course of infection.” It is important to keep your pet away from other pets while symptoms persist to prevent the spread of the illness.
Having said that, it is also important to recognize that your pet may simply be suffering from seasonal allergies that produce similar symptoms in dogs. Remember, we spend a lot more time outside with our guests, exposing them to pollen and other allergens for extended time periods that can produce upper respiratory complications. In either case, that of kennel cough or upper respiratory illness caused by allergies, symptoms should lessen as your pet readjusts to her home environment and catches up on rest. If your pet is not recovering on her own, please consult your veterinarian who will likely prescribe an antibiotic and a cough tab.
Q: What safety precautions do you take to prevent the spread of illness at your facility?
A: We require that all of our guests are properly vaccinated. If a guest does appear symptomatic for any respiratory illness while he is in our care, we will quarantine the pet and contact the owner and/or one of our partner veterinarians regarding veterinary care. Unfortunately, a pet can be infected with kennel cough for up to a week before he displays symptoms, so it’s not always possible to identify kennel cough among incoming guests.
Another precaution we take is unparalleled cleanliness and disinfecting habits. Those of you who have toured our facility know that we maintain a very clean facility, which is why the majority of our guests are returned to their owners in the same healthful condition in which they arrived. We are not a traditional kennel where stalls are hosed down into open drains, and dampness prevails, assisting the spread of illnesses such as kennel cough. Floors of our facility are very dry and very sanitary. We also have dual-unit ultraviolet (UV) germicidal lamps installed in each of our HVAC systems, which kill any mold or bacteria as it passes through the air handlers.
In a perfect world, these measures would be enough to prevent kennel cough from ever being an issue at our facility. But because we live in the real world, we also have to rely on our customers to keep sick pets at home or make boarding arrangements at veterinary clinics where they can be treated, rather than bringing them to The Island Pawplex where other pets may be exposed to the illness.
Q: My friend brings her dog there for daycare 5 days a week, and her dog has never gotten sick. My dog has been boarded twice and caught an illness both times. How can this be?
A: Just like people, some pets have stronger immune systems than others. Dogs who are around other dogs regularly develop immunity to many common illnesses. Dogs who rarely leave the home aren’t exposed to many germs; therefore, they have not had that advantage. Some veterinarians suggest that pet parents add probiotics to their pet’s diet a week before a scheduled boarding, during, and a week after to boost immunity. While much information on this topic is available online, you may wish to consult your veterinarian about the best precautionary treatment for your pet. Keep in mind that senior pets, puppies, and pets with underlying health issues are always more vulnerable to contracting illnesses because their immune systems are usually compromised to some degree.
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