Dog owners know that planning an out-of-town trip is never as easy as booking a hotel and packing your bags. If you have a pet, you have to make a plan for them, too. But how much does dog boarding cost? What are the best options for your dog?
Unless you’re lucky enough to have nearby friends and family who are willing to add your dog to their pack for a few days (or more), you’re probably going to have to schedule dog boarding—and it’s going to cost you.
How much does dog boarding cost? Well, the answer is not as straight-forward as you might have hoped.
What influences the cost of dog boarding?
There are few factors that influence the cost of dog boarding, and it starts with your location.
If you live in a big city or a popular travel destination, you’re probably going to be looking at higher boarding prices since prices tend to increase with demand.
Unfortunately, you may also see higher prices if you live in a rural area. If there aren’t many boarding options to choose from, businesses can charge a premium without worrying about being under-priced by the competition.
The size of your dog may also affect the cost, as some boarding facilities charge more for larger pets.
But the biggest influence to the cost of boarding usually has to do with what type of boarding you choose. You do have a few choices, and works for you will depend on both your pet and your wallet.
Types of dog boarding
Your dog boarding choices can be broken down into four categories.
Kennel boarding is the most basic type of dog boarding, and it’s the type that most people will be familiar with.
At a traditional kennel, you can expect your dog’s basic needs to be met—feeding, water, daily walks or outside time, and maybe some interaction with other dogs.
They’ll be given a place to sleep, and that’s usually a mat or cot inside of a kennel or cage. Some kennels include small outdoor runs in each animal’s enclosure.
While kennels aren’t usually known for their frills, they may have add-on services like extra walks or playtime to make it more enjoyable for your dog. These extras, however, will cost you.
Cost: Prices vary, but most dog kennels start their pricing at around $20-$50 per night.
For example, Hocking Hills Boarding Kennels in Rockbridge, Ohio charges $18 per night for dogs but allows two small dogs to share a space for just $28 per night.
The Green Bone in Houston, Texas, charges $45-$50 per night, and dogs not picked up by 11 a.m. on their last day will also have to pay for daycare services. That’s a heck of a late check-out fee.
If your dog can be a bit bourgeois, you may want to look into a pet hotel—high-end, spa-like retreats for dogs who just can’t deal with kennels and shared water bowls.
These places are fancy; most have actual rooms for each pup complete with beds, ceiling fans, scented air, and televisions.
The facilities often include indoor pools, obstacle courses, recreational areas, and even treadmills for dogs. Seriously, dogs that stay at Pet Hotels may have a better vacation than their owners.
They also often offer webcams so you can watch your dog at all times—something that’s probably a big selling point for anyone who’s having a hard time leaving their dog with a stranger (and who doesn’t have a hard time with that?).
Cost: Of course, all this luxury doesn’t come cheap.
Pet hotels start at around $50 per night and can climb into the hundreds.
For example, V.I.Pet Resort in Orlando, Florida starts at $49 per night, and they offer private suites, room service, and a full day of interaction with other dogs.
Dog. Hotel and Daycare in Chicago charges $120 per night for their Grand Suite, which includes daily maid service and a turndown service.
“Having worked in over 20 different veterinary hospitals in my career, I can honestly say that the boarding care I have witnessed at veterinary hospitals is typically inferior to non-veterinary facilities.”
Dr. Ken Tudor, The Well Dog Place
Many veterinarian offices offer boarding services, and that may appeal to pet owners simply because they’re already familiar with the staff and facilities.
While it may be a good option for dogs with medical conditions who need frequent observation or medications, Dr. Ken Tudor told Pet MD that it’s not a great option for most dogs.
“Most veterinary boarding facilities are the old fashioned, cold, sterile type. Because medical and surgical cases are a higher priority in veterinary hospitals, boarders are likely to be short-changed on attention and care,” he explains. “Having worked in over 20 different veterinary hospitals in my career, I can honestly say that the boarding care I have witnessed at veterinary hospitals is typically inferior to non-veterinary facilities.”
Cost: Once again, veterinarian boarding prices vary greatly depending on your location, but you can expect the prices to be similar to a traditional kennel at around $20-$50 per night.
For example, the Saint Matthews Animal Clinic in Louisville, Kentucky, starts at $20 for small dogs and goes up to $40 for larger dogs.
The Ark Animal Clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada, starts at $16 for small dogs, and goes up to $35 for larger dogs, though they do offer discounts for families with multiple dogs.
One of the newer, more popular choices for dog boarding is in-home boarding. In this type of boarding, a private dog sitter keeps your dog at their home.
In these scenarios, dogs are usually treated like their own pet, given full access to the home, allowed on furniture, and snuggled on the regular.
It’s a great option for anyone who wants to avoid their dog catching illnesses from other dogs in a kennel, or who wants their dog to get a lot of one-on-one attention.
Plus, there’s nothing like the comforts of home, and when your dogs can’t be in their own home, someone else’s is the next best thing.
Liz Coleman runs an in-home boarding service in Buffalo, New York, and connects with her clients through Rover. She says in-home dog boarding services can’t be beaten.
“When it comes to in-home boarding, the advantage is personalized care. I usually only take one dog at a time, so he’s going to get 100% of my attention,” she says. “I can also provide a certain level of comfort that you just can’t get with a kennel. There are no crates (unless the owner requires it), and the dog can enjoy participating in everyday family activities. Plus, they get to sleep in my bed!”
Another in-home dog boarder, Amber Christensen in Renton, Washington, also connects with clients through Rover, and says in-home boarding is “absolutely” the best boarding choice for dog owners.
“The dogs feel very at home in our house,” she says. “They’re allowed on furniture, on the bed, and we have a large fenced yard for them to run around and play as often as they’d like.”
Cost: Believe it or not, in-home boarding is very affordable compared to other dog boarding options.
Since sitters using services like Rover can set their own rates, prices vary greatly—meaning you can keep searching until you find an in-home pet sitter you like that also fits your price range.
For example, Christensen says she charges $40 per night, while Coleman’s in-home boarding services start at $35 per night.
Add-on costs for dog boarding
Of course, once you’ve selected a boarding option and calculated the nightly rate, you’re not done. Most boarding services offer add-ons that “add on” to your boarding package—as well as the bill.
Though many of these services help make boarding more enjoyable for your dog or more convenient for you, they can add up quickly, especially if you’re boarding a senior dog or one that requires medication.
While some facilities offer all-day play for your dog, others charge for extra playtime or extra walks. You may also find that some places charge for grooming services, medicine administering, web camera monitoring, and more.
Some facilities even charge extra for dogs with difficult personalities or who don’t get along well with other dogs. (Or even for specific breeds.)
Coleman charges $12 (round trip) to pick up and drop off dogs she’s boarding in her home. Christensen says she charges $20 for “after hours drop-offs or pickups, which means before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m.
The cost of add-on services—as well as which services are available or included—will vary from place to place, so it’s worth looking into as it can greatly affect both your pet’s experience and your final bill.
How to choose a dog boarding option
No matter which dog boarding option you choose, it’s important to make sure you’re leaving your dog in the hands of someone you trust.
If possible, check with previous clients for reviews—made easy if you’re using a service like Rover where reviews and re-books are easily available before you even contact a boarder.
“You don’t have to pay Ritz-Carlton-type prices at one of these spa-like kennels to get great care,” Kevin Brasler, executive editor at Checkbook.org, told WTOP News in Washington, D.C. of their area boarding services. “A lot of the lower-priced places [have] great ratings from their customers.”
It’s a good idea to visit any facility or home before booking your dog for a stay.
Check to make sure the area is clean and doesn’t smell like urine or feces, make sure dogs have enough room and access to food and water, and most importantly, talk with staff or in-home boarders to get a feel for how they feel about dogs—yours in particular.
And if you have a gut feeling that things aren’t right, move on to the next option. The extra work is worth the peace of mind you’ll have on your trip.