If you're a devoted bird owner, chances are you might need to make boarding arrangements at some time. Whether you board your pet at an avian care establishment or an exotic pet shop with boarding facility, there are several aspects you need to consider to keep your feathered friend safe and comfortable. Here are seven essential questions to ask your pet caretakers for more information:
1. Are owners required to provide health certificates when boarding their pets?
As a general rule, all birds being boarded at any facility should come with a clean bill of health, as documented by a veterinarian. Vet-issued health certificates help ensure the well-being of other pet guests and of staff members. This is important to prevent the spread of communicable diseases such as psittacosis.
You should also ask about all requirements for your pet's health certificate. A culture and gram stain might need to be taken several months prior to boarding your pet, as well as an avian viral screening. Be aware of the necessary requirements before the need for boarding arises.
2. Must owners provide carriers, perches, toys and snacks?
Most bird boarding facilities will provide an adequately sized cage for boarded pets. However, some facilities will require owners to transport their pets in a carrier or travel cage. Even a bird with clipped wings may be able to fly a short distance and injure itself, which is why bringing your pet in a safe carrier is often necessary.
Although boarding cages will have various sized perches for different species, some birds become accustomed to a favorite perch. In such a case, ask if you may bring along your bird's favorite perch. You might also ask if you may bring a favorite toy or two.
The facility will most likely provide the food and water for your boarded bird. If your pet requires a special diet or enjoys a favorite snack, ask if you may provide these.
3. What kind of night security is provided?
If the boarding facility does not have 24 hour on-site staff to monitor the pets, are dim night lights and cage covers provided? Some bird species such as cockatiels are prone to night thrashing, sometimes referred to as "night frights". A caged bird may become startled by strange sights or sounds in a new environment, especially at night. As the bird thrashes against the cage bars, it may harm itself an attempt to escape a conceived threat. A cage cover and night light might help your pet feel less threatened and keep it safe.
4. Is there an on-site pet clinic for emergencies?
What would happen if your pet became ill or injured while boarded? For your own peace of mind, inquire about emergency medical services. Will you be notified in such an event? Are incurring medical costs billed to you later?
5. Are there discounts for boarding multiple birds?
Some facilities offer a discounted fee when boarding two or more birds at the same time. If your pets are accustomed to sharing a cage, the fee may be reduced, so it's worth inquiring about. Also, ask if there is a discount when boarding your pet(s) for a lengthy stay of 10 days or more.
6. What are the sanitation regulations?
Are all cages, perches and feeding bowls cleaned and sanitized after each client use? How frequently are cage liners cleaned?
7. Do boarded birds get "time out" of the cage?
Will your clipped pet be allowed out of the cage at least once a day? What type of play perch is provided? There should be a play gym with several perches of varying sizes and widths, as well as safe and engaging toys.
Will your parrot interact with other birds or are the pets separated? Is there constant supervision out of the cage? No pets should be left unattended for any amount of time.
Take the stress out of pet boarding by preparing ahead of time. Taking a tour of the facility is a good idea as well. Asking questions, like those mentioned above, may help eliminate your anxiety and ensure your feathered friend is safe and happy during its stay.