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Pet Health


Boarding Your Senior Pet

The older my dog gets, the more precious he becomes to me (if that’s even possible), and the more care…

The older my dog gets, the more precious he becomes to me (if that’s even possible), and the more care and attention he needs. Jesse is at the age where he doesn’t see nor hear well, he loses his balance sometimes, he requires medications and/or supplements, and just general help in navigating life.

We often have senior pets visit us at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts. Some owners will hesitate to board an older pet, and that is completely understandable. I’ll be honest, caring for a senior pet in a boarding environment can have its challenges.

Aging problems in senior pets

Aging pets often struggle with mobility problems, loss of senses, and confusion. They may experience anxiety, irritability, and restlessness, sometimes resulting in mild to severe aggression, vocalization, sleeping and eating problems, and potty issues. In truth, boarding may cause these issues to worsen, especially if they have never been boarded before.

Seniors find comfort in familiar smells, places, and sounds. When a senior pet comes to a strange boarding facility, all the familiarity of home goes away. Obviously, this can be very stressful for your older pet.

Does that mean I can’t board my senior pet?

No, we’re not trying to talk you out of boarding your senior pet with us! In fact, we can’t think of a better place than Holiday Barn Pet resorts to board an older pet that may need special care and attention.

  • Our resorts offer quieter, home-like accommodations.
  • Our textured, slip-resistance flooring provides for better traction for our seniors with mobility problems.
  • Achy pups simply love the warmth of our heated floors in the wintertime.
  • We have special “activity packages” geared towards the senior pet, featuring hug times outdoors and leisurely walks.
  • Your dog may also enjoy a therapeutic 10-minute swim during the warm summer months.
  • Arthritic dogs are much more comfortable with our premier padded bedding.
  • With exception to injectables, we are also happy to administer your pet’s prescription medications.


Many of the managers at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts are PACCC (Professional Animal Care Certification Council) certified, meaning we have made an investment in education to provide high quality, knowledgeable pet care. A PACCC certification is validation that your pet will receive safe, dependable care. In addition, our entire staff undergoes a thorough onboard training program before being allowed to care for our guests.


When is a pet considered a senior?

Many people still believe that one human year equals 7 dog years, but that is not really an accurate way to determine if your dog is a senior. There are so many differences in breeds and sizes of dogs that it would be hard to put an age limit across the board. While a small dog may appear to be in its prime at 8 years of age, a very large dog may already be struggling with issues from aging.

Cats generally are considered seniors between the ages of 7 – 10. It’s hard to detect aging in cats because they are so good at hiding any infirmities. It is safe to say that once a cat passes its 11th birthday, it is most certainly “geriatric”.

We must rely on the owner to be honest about their pet’s health and condition. Not just honest with us, but honest with themselves, as it is not easy to accept that your beloved pet is getting old. If your pet is slowing down, or if there are changes in their everyday behavior, it could be due to advancing “golden years”.

Veterinarian examination

We recommend senior pets have a full examination by their veterinarian prior to boarding. A veterinarian will provide an overall assessment of your pet’s health, which usually includes a physical exam, diagnostic screening, and general observation of your pet’s wellbeing, alerting you to anything that is concerning or should be monitored. If the pet’s health is questionable in any area, we would appreciate -and sometimes require – your vet’s recommendation as to the pet’s ability to board happily and healthily.

Obviously, if your pet is noticeably ill, i.e., diarrhea, vomiting; difficulty eating, swallowing, urinating, or defecating; lame, bleeding, coughing, or showing shortness of breath, he/she is not fit for boarding. Major medical conditions, particularly involving the heart, lungs, or digestive system, should be monitored by a veterinarian if you need to be away from your senior pet.

Unfortunately, there are some cases when we must refuse to board your pet for health reasons. Believe me, we do not like it any more than you do, but when the well-being of the pet is at risk, it is best to make other arrangements.

Suggestions for boarding your senior pet

1. Staycations

If possible, a staycation is recommended for your pet prior to boarding. A staycation is simply a day vacation for your pet without an overnight stay. Staycations help the senior pet learn the smells and sounds of a resort, and perhaps become familiar with some of our staff, so that when they come to stay for longer than a day, it will not be as stressful to them. Remember, familiarity is comforting. Plan a staycation for your pet a week or two before boarding.

2. Prepare a summary

One of the most helpful things you can do is to provide us with a summary of your dog’s particulars. For example, food, treats, medications, and preferences. It doesn’t hurt to add your pet’s Veterinarian’s name and your phone number, even though we will have it in our records.  The picture below is a good example of a pet summary.

3. Reservations

When you call our Glen Allen or Midlothian locations to make a reservation at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts, we will ask a series of questions to make sure your pet has the best accommodations and activities for a happy and comfortable stay. In addition to general information about your pet, we will ask for feeding instructions and activity preferences. It is then that we will discuss your senior pets’ needs, particularly as it pertains to their health. It is most important to let us know anything out of the ordinary so that our pet care providers know what to look for. Have your notes ready:

  • Is your pet on any medication or supplements? Please provide schedule and dosage.
  • Let us know if your pet is deaf or blind.
  • Does your pet need help with mobility?
  • Does your pet have incontinence issues?
  • Is your pet ever confused or disoriented?


Once you check your senior dog in for boarding, most instructions have been covered via your call to our reservation specialists. Check-in is the time to review and make sure everything is correct. Leave a good telephone number for reaching you while you are away, and a backup number, just in case. It’s also a good idea to provide us with a local number for a friend or relative who your pet is familiar with, if needed.

One more thing… Try to be calm when leaving your pet in our care. If your pet senses that there is a reason to become anxious or fearful, it will affect them. Pet them, assure them you’ll be back soon. Put on your happy face.

Your senior pet’s stay

We will do everything to make sure your pet is healthy and happy during their stay with us. Please understand that regardless of all we can do to provide for a senior pet, sometimes they will become ill while boarding. It just happens. It is not simply because of boarding, per se, but also because the pet is away from the comfort of home and family. It is stressful. Stress can result in illness. Illnesses in an elderly dog can become serious. That is why it is so important that we have clear instructions regarding your pet’s medical care. We are prepared to care for your pet in the event of illness or injury.

If you’re interested in boarding at Holiday Barn, check out our options for dog boarding and cat boarding.

To learn more about senior pet boarding at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts, call us today!

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