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If you can’t have someone care for your pet at home and she struggles with getting around on her own or has other medical issues, check with your vet to see if they offer on-site boarding—even if it's not something they advertise.
“If it really is a dog with mobility issues, some veterinary clinics will offer medical boarding for patients, whereas they don’t do normal boarding for healthy animals,” Dr. Mengel says. “I prefer it be someplace where somebody’s there overnight rather than leaving a dog overnight with no people there — same with boarding kennels.”
Not all facilities have staff that are trained to help assist dogs — especially large dogs — with standing or walking, but some medical boarding facilities have veterinary technicians who can help your dog with this.
It’s not always realistic to take your pet with you or to avoid travel, but that’s the tactic some owners take. Just be sure you're keeping your dog's health and safety at the front of your mind, because if your dog has numerous medical issues, taking your pooch someplace far from the vet who knows her might not be the smartest move.
“I have one client who just takes her elderly dog with her wherever she goes, so if she goes on vacation she takes the elderly dog, because the dog gets stressed [otherwise],” Dr. Mengel says.
She says you can also talk with your own vet about whether there are any medications that would help to reduce your dog’s stress.
No matter who is caring for your senior pet, they should have the contact information for your regular vet as well as any veterinary specialists you see regularly. You may also want to have an emergency contact who knows what you want for your dog and can make a difficult decision if you can’t be reached — especially if you’re traveling overseas or someplace where it’s hard to get in touch with you.
“While it’s hard to discuss that, if it is really an older dog who already has preexisting health conditions, it’s good if there are people who you trust who can be in the loop because, God forbid a decision needs to be made while you’re away, they know your wishes,” Dr. Mengel says. “You don’t want people to have to be frantically making phone calls” if your dog is suffering.
In the end, it all comes down to trusting your gut... and maybe also your vet and emergency contacts.
“It is very much an individual dog scenario, and that’s where it’s good if people are in tune to their dog and kind of use their instinct a little bit as to what would make the dog most comfortable,” Dr. Mengel says.
And, of course, if you have any doubt or questions, talk to your vet.
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