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Tips for dog owners before they go away

The summer holidays are upon us and if you're planning a trip without the dog, leading health body the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has some important tips for your dog's wellbeing.

As the CIEH updates its Model License Conditions to help Environmental Health Professionals better inspect dog kennels for which they are responsible for, they are also advising all dog owners to make thorough checks of any kennel or boarding establishment before leaving their pets this summer. They recommend that owners ask questions around safety, quality of facilities and procedures before leaving their pets.

Bob Mayho, Principal Policy Officer for CIEH, said, "The vast majority of boarding establishments are built and run to the highest possible standards. But we are concerned about a small number of kennels that are happy to take dog owners’ money whilst not necessarily providing facilities and services that befit the animals they are meant to be looking after.

"We strongly urge all dog owners to take a careful and considered look at where they want to leave their pets, whether that is talking to the owner on the phone or physically visiting the kennel and seeing it all with your own eyes. This should not only improve confidence in dog owners that their pets are being taken care of but will also rid the industry of poor practices."

CIEH top tips for dog owners who want to use a kennel

1. Check to see what the general conditions are like. If you can spot a problem then raise it with the kennel owners
2. Ask if there is an exercise yard? It can be beneficial for dogs to spend time away from the kennel unit and get some much-needed exercise and variety
3. Ensure your dog will have access to an adequate supply of suitable food, drink and bedding material
4. Do the staff know what to do in an emergency? Ask them what measures are in place to protect animals in the case of fire or other emergencies
5. Remember your dog’s hearing is more sensitive. So you might want to check if the kennel is too noisy
6. Did you see a copy of the licence and its conditions – maximum number of dogs and number of holding units – displayed prominently in the boarding establishment? If not ask the owner where it is
7. Check that a responsible person at least over 18 years old or older lives on site or a key-holder must live within a reasonable travelling time from the kennels and an emergency contact number must be clearly displayed at the entrance to the kennels
8. Ask if staff who handle and care for dogs are adequately trained and competent in ensuring the dogs’ welfare as well as their safe handling
9. You should be concerned if you are not asked to present up-to-date vaccination records for your pet, it could mean other pets in kennels are not vaccinated.

CIEH first published its conditions and guidance for dog boarding establishments in 1995. 21 years on, CIEH has updated its guidance document, in partnership with councils and leading animal-related bodies including Dogs Trust, The British Veterinary Association and the RSPCA, to help EHPs understand and uphold the new legislation and general developments in animal welfare.

Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, Paula Boyden, said, "Dogs Trust has worked closely with CIEH, stakeholders and welfare organisations on the development of these guidelines and calls on local authorities to put the guidance into practice when assessing boarding establishments. The guidelines have had a long overdue overhaul and now reflect the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act for inspectors to consider during assessment.

"While these newly published guidelines mark an important step forward, we urge members of the public to be careful and considered when booking accommodation for their dogs over the summer holidays."