Choosing a Boarder for your Precious Bundle of Fur!

By Karen Pettifer

Are you worried about being away from home for a while? An experienced boarder can give your bunny quality care and usually even administer required medicine, giving you peace of mind during your holiday. Before heading for your nearest boarder, it's important to find one you will be 100% happy with and to properly prepare your bunny for her holiday.

It must be mentioned that, if your bunny has an aggression problem, she may not be a good candidate for boarding. This is best discussed with the potential boarders.

Pros and cons of using a boarder

Your bunny depends on you to take good care of her, even when you are not there. Friends and neighbours, although perhaps more convenient for you, may not have the experience or time to properly caring for your bunny. Boarding care is best left to dedicated professionals.

A facility specialising in care and overnight boarding allows your bunny to: -

  • avoid the stress of a long car or train ride to your destination
  • stay where she’s welcome (unlike many hotels)
  • receive more attention and supervision than she would if home alone most of the day
  • be monitored by the boarder experienced in spotting health problems early
  • be happy in secure accommodation.

It’s important, however, that you consider the few potential drawbacks in using a boarder:-

  • your bunny may encounter some stress related to staying in an unfamiliar environment
  • the inconvenience of the drive to the boarder, which can be hard on a bunny easily stressed by car journeys.
  • the potential proximity to other pets, who could expose your bunny to potential health problems.

How do I find a good boarder?

First, ask a friend, neighbour, local vet and rescue centre for first hand recommendations. You can also check the Yellow Pages or various direct and non-direct internet site e.g. yell.com or the National Association of Registered Petsitters. Once you have several options, even ones you got from reliable sources, it's important to do a background check.

Ask whether the prospective boarder belongs to any animal welfare organisation. Check, too, whether they can provide you with references from previous customers either written or phone numbers of those you can talk too.

After selecting a few potential boarders, confirm that they can accommodate your bunny for specific dates and can address any special needs. If you're satisfied, go ahead and arrange a pre-stay visit.

What should I look for?

During a visit, check that they exercise high standards of professionalism, safety and quality of care. Ask to view the places your pet may be taken, paying particular attention to the following:-

  • Does the facility look and smell clean?
  • Is the accommodation safe and secure?
  • Is there sufficient ventilation and light and is a comfortable temperature maintained?
  • Does the boarder seem knowledgeable and caring?
  • Are bunnies required to be current on their vaccinations against VHD and Myxomatosis?
  • Does each bunny have his own adequately sized living space and receive an acceptable amount of daily exercise?
  • Are outdoor accommodation and runs protected from wind, rain, snow and predators?
  • Are resident and other boarding non-rabbit pets housed away from boarders?
  • Will the boarder adhere to your bunny’s regular feeding schedule and are you required to bring along their dry food?
  • How often will your bunny’s fresh water and hay be replaced?
  • How often will your bunny’s litter and bedding be replaced?
  • What provisions for veterinary services are available? Can the boarder administer existing medicine requirements?
  • Are other services available, ie grooming?
  • How are rates calculated? Is any deposit required?

Don't be afraid to take a written list of questions with you, a good boarder will be happy to answer them for you.

How do I prepare my bunny?

Before you head for the boarder on the first day of your bunny’s stay, double-check that you have your pet's medications and dry food (if required), your usual vet’s phone number, emergency contact information for you and a local backup should this be required.

When you arrive with your pet at the boarding facility, remind the boarder of any problems your bunny has, including their medical history. Some boarders will ask for a service agreement to be completed either on or prior to checking in, allowing information such as this to be documented.

After settling your bunny in, boarders will fully understand the need for long emotional goodbyes. Before you set off on your trip, knowing that your bunny is in safe hands.

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