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Boarding an Older Pet

by Ron Kurtus (updated 18 January 2022)

Boarding an older pet when you go on a trip can be quite stressful for the animal. Just like with senior citizen humans, older dogs and cats can become set in their ways and used to certain routines. For example, my dog couldn't walk after being left in a kennel for less than a week. You should make extra preparations for leaving your pet in a boarding kennel.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions. Animal Health Disclaimer

Problems that may occur

If the dog or cat has some underlying medical problem or undiagnosed illness, the stress of being separated from the animal's home and routine can trigger physical changes in the pet.

Stress can lower resistance to disease or cause other problems that would not occur under normal circumstances in the familiar home setting. Heart, kidney and urinary problems can occur.

My dog couldn't walk

My own experience of what can happen from the stress of leaving an older pet at a kennel happened when we left our 13-year-old Golden Retriever at a kennel for 5 days. She had some arthritis in her rear legs before we left her there. Upon getting her from the kennel, her rear legs were so weak that she was unable to walk. I had to carry her to the car. She just didn't look too good either.

Although she did get exercise each day, apparently being cooped up and having a completely different schedule was too much for her. It was not the fault of the boarding kennel, rather it was simply the reaction of an old dog to a traumatic environment.

Fortunately, after two days she was almost back to normal. But I will think twice about boarding her again unless absolutely necessary.

Make plans for boarding

It is important to make sure the kennel where you board your older dog or cat is able to give your pet some special care. Some have an area for senior animals that is away from the general population. Most will have extra bedding for the older animals and will also provide special diets for the senior pet. Some even play soothing music for the older pets.

It is good to make the kennel personnel know of the needs of your pet and provide the medicines and instructions for care of the animal. Of course, it is important to give emergency telephone numbers of where to reach you, as well as those of your vet.


Boarding an older pet can be quite stressful for the animal. Senior citizen dogs and cats can become set in their ways and used to certain routines. Often they can become ill or minor problems can become serious upon leaving them in a kennel. You should make extra preparations for leaving your pet in a boarding kennel.

Keep your pet comfortable

Resources and references

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