4 min read

How Early Should I Book a Pet Boarder for My Next Vacation?


Written by Mel Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 09/17/2021, edited: 10/26/2022

If you're heading out of town and your fur-babies won't be able to chill at home while you're gone, they'll get to enjoy a mini vacation of their own. From swanky pet resorts to affordable, on-demand pet boarding services, you've got "pawlenty" of overnight care options to choose from!

But how soon should you book a pet boarder before your trip? As far in advance as you can.

We know this may not be what you want to hear. But dog boarding facilities tend to fill up fast, especially during peak holiday periods. And even in-home dog boarders have limited availability.

Read on to find out how soon you should book a pet boarder for your trip, plus some tips for anyone booking at the last minute and things to consider when comparing boarding options.

How early should I book overnight pet care before my trip?

The ideal time frame will depend on the type of facility you're booking with and when. We recommend booking a pet boarder at least 6 weeks in advance.

You might want to give yourself even more time if you’re booking a stay at a pet resort during a holiday. Many pet resorts have reservation deadlines for busy periods like July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Some facilities also have an application and screening process — you’ll want to leave yourself enough time to apply and get approved for overnight care.

We know planning this far ahead takes a bit of the spontaneity out of your trip. But it also gives you plenty of time to find a boarder who's not only available to watch your pets for your entire trip, but also has experience caring for pets like yours.

Plus, booking a dog boarder isn't as simple as setting your dates and paying the fee. To ensure your fur-babies get the TLC they need while you're away, you'll also need to:

  • Write a bio for each of your pets that includes their likes, dislikes, and behavior info

  • Pack your pets' supplies — don't "furget" Fido's favorite toy!

  • Create a pet care plan that details your pets’ routines, exercise needs, and medication instructions

Booking a pet boarder at the last minute

If you’re going on vacation, you’ll have weeks, perhaps even months, to prepare. But if you experience a family emergency or another situation that requires immediate travel, it’s not always possible to book overnight pet care in advance. 

If you're not booking during a peak period, you might be able to find a dog boarding facility that has some last-minute availability. We recommend leaving yourself enough time to tour the facility to get an inside look at your pets' temporary living quarters and roommates.

What should you do if you don't have time to tour the facility, or you can't find available pet boarding options in your area? Browse dog boarders on the Wag! app to find a Pet Caregiver who will wait on your fur-baby hand and paw! While we can’t guarantee last-minute availability for any service, many Pet Caregivers are flexible, affordable, and available on demand.

Things to consider before choosing a pet boarder

No matter how far in advance you're booking overnight care for your dogs, cats, or other critters, there are some things you should consider when choosing your pets' "pawfect" match.


If your pets have chronic health issues, you'll want to choose a boarder who's experienced in caring for pets with those same health concerns. Let your boarder know if your pup needs to take medication or has other special care needs.

Most boarding facilities will not accept pets with infectious illnesses. Additionally, pets in boarding facilities are at higher risk of getting sick from illnesses like kennel cough, which is important to consider if your pet is immunocompromised.


If you're booking a stay at a facility, be sure to ask a few questions about the usual schedule, like:

  • What time will my pets wake up?
  • What times will you feed my pets?
  • When is playtime?
  • What happens after closing time? Do you have someone on staff 24/7 to watch the pets?

In-home boarders are typically a bit more flexible, but they might still be boarding other animals and catering to their routines too. Chat with your boarder if you have any concerns about any disruptions to your pet's routine.


Is boarding the best overnight care option for your pet? One of the best ways to tell is to look at their temperament and behavior.

Pets that are generally friendly and well behaved are "grrreat" candidates for boarding. But boarding may not be suitable for other pets, like those with aggression or separation anxiety.

Whether you book with a private boarder or a facility, chances are your pets won't be the only guests. If your pets don't play well with others or have extreme behavioral issues, you might want to consider pet sitting as an alternative to boarding.

Exercise needs

Booking a stay at a small boarding facility with no outdoor play area simply won't do for some rambunctious breeds, like Boxers and Border Collies. Ask about the enrichment options available at the facility. And remember, some facilities charge extra for walks and playtime.

Likewise, the private boarder you choose should be prepared to provide adequate exercise and playtime.

The fine print

Before finalizing your reservation, be sure to ask about:

  • Deposits and refunds
  • Cancellation policies and fees
  • Early/late pick-up or drop-off fees
  • Extra charges for walks, kibble, or playtime
  • Whether you're allowed to bring your pet's toys, food, or bedding

If any policies are confusing or unclear, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Looking "fur" affordable pet boarding options? Download the Wag! app to find a cat or dog boarder near you today!

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