Sometimes there's no choice but to board your senior Labrador retriever when you must go on a trip. It can be difficult to leave them, so you want to do so in the most comfortable way possible. This is especially important when he suffers from hip dysplasia.
If your lab boards regularly and the staff know him, your lab will know what to expect with the schedule. But if he's not a regular boarder or if it is his first time, there's some special considerations that you can ask for — especially in high-end facilities.
If Your Lab Has Joint Pain
Labs are known for being born with or developing hip dysplasia. Ask for an orthopedic bed. These cots are usually canvas with a metal frame or a pillow bed that stands around 4 to 7 inches off the ground. He will be off the cold floor of the pen and can walk on and off the bed with ease.
If Your Lab Has Special Dietary Needs
Often Labrador retrievers with hip dysplasia are assigned dog food with fewer calories, especially if lack of exercise has made him overweight or obese. Bring his food dish and his food — enough for the entire stay. Usually a small bag will suffice.
If he eats 3 times a day at home, make sure he's fed 3 times a day at the facility.
If Your Lab Needs Daily Medicine
Make sure that you have enough medicine for your dog's stay. If he won't take medicine easily, bring plenty of pill pockets, peanut butter, or other spreadable butter to hide his medicine in. You will fill out a medical form authorizing the staff to give him medicine as per his usual dosage and dosage times.
If Your Lab Gets Homesick Easily
Many boarding establishments have cameras so that you can check in and see how your lab is doing via computer or your cell phone. Often you can even talk to him. Some dogs are reassured. Other dogs become excitable. So know how your dog will react.
Also bring some of his comfort items from home. Make sure that you include things like:
- bully sticks
- a favorite blanket
- a favorite treat
Some families leave their lab with a family picture to look at. Others leave unwashed old socks, an old sweatshirt, or a shoe so he doesn't miss the scent of his family.
If Your Lab Needs Grooming
Many dog owners that board their labs decide to have the resident groomer give him a bath and clip his nails before pickup. Grooming can aggravate the pain of hip dysplasia, so ask how the groomer will proceed.
Remember to ask if a non-slip mat or a sling will be used to groom your dog. You will want as little pressure as possible on his sore joints.
With a lot of care and a bit of forethought, you can make your senior lab's stay at the boarding facility a pleasant one. Contact a boarding facility like Marquette Animal Hospital for more specific advice.