Why are some dogs prone to stomach upsets in boarding kennels?

Why are some dogs prone to stomach upsets in boarding kennels?

Health & Safety

If you ever board your dog in a commercial kennels when you go on holiday or are otherwise unable to care for them, it is important to make their stay as stress-free as possible, and ensure that the changes to your dog’s general routine are minimal. Some dogs really enjoy staying at boarding kennels, enjoying the change of scene, variety and attention, and of course, the opportunity to play and socialise with other dogs that they might not otherwise have met. However, for some dogs, boarding can be very stressful and make them rather unhappy, and if this is the case for your dog, it is even more important to do what you can to make their stay pleasant, or avoid boarding them at all if possible.

One common issue that many dog owners find their dogs suffer from when boarding is an upset stomach, which may manifest as diarrhoea or other symptoms. It is not uncommon to call to enquire after your dog in the first few days of their stay to hear that they had a problem on their first day or so that then cleared up, but in some cases, such issues may continue for the duration of your dog’s stay.

In this article, we will look at some of the most common causes for dogs getting a stomach upset when boarding, as well as some ways in which this problem can be prevented or minimised. Read on to learn more.

Dietary changes

The cost per day of boarding your dog will almost certainly include the cost of feeding them, but in the vast majority of cases, this means feeding them on the food or range of foods that the kennels offer, and not providing a special or individual diet for your dog.

If the food that the kennel provides is the same as what you feed at home, this is likely to be fine, but otherwise, it is strongly recommended that you provide enough food, or money for the appropriate food to the kennel, to allow them to feed your dog the diet that they are used to for the duration of their stay.

Even robust, healthy dogs with iron stomachs are apt to suffer from a short term stomach upset if their food is suddenly changed for something new, and for more sensitive dogs, this can have a pronounced effect on their digestive health.


Boarding in a kennel can be stressful for some dogs, particularly those that are shy, nervous, or unhappy with change. Stress of this type can soon lead to an upset stomach, which may clear up within a day or so when your dog gets used to things, but for some dogs that do not thrive within a boarding environment, may continue for the duration of their stay.

For dogs of this type, picking the right boarding kennel can help, such as by choosing a smaller operation that has less dogs, a set routine of feeding and walks, and more time to devote to each individual dog. If your dog really fails to thrive wherever they are boarded, it may be best to look at options to have your dog cared for at home when you go away, instead of boarding them.

Underlying health problems

A whole range of underlying health problems can lead to upset stomachs, and while it is apt to be rather coincidental if your dog’s problem suddenly presents while they are boarding, it is not impossible. Stress can also contribute to the development or worsening of an underlying issue, which should be taken into account if your dog becomes ill when in the kennels.

You should have made arrangements with the kennel before you go about what they should do if your dog becomes sick while boarding, and have a plan for them to receive the attention of the vet if this should be needed during their stay.

Illnesses going around the kennels

When a lot of dogs are kept together in close quarters in any environment, infections and contagious conditions will soon spread. This is part of the reason why the vast majority of kennels will insist on seeing evidence of your dog’s vaccination records before boarding them, and why kennels will not accept dogs that are showing signs of sickness when they check in.

However, not all conditions can be spotted early on or vaccinated against, and it is entirely possible that your dog may pick up a contagious illness from another dog while they are boarding. Find out from the kennel before you leave your dog what their protocols for this are, and ensure that they have a means of isolating sick dogs while they are boarding. Also, find out what their policies are for caring for and paying for the treatment of a dog that becomes sick due to contact with another dog while boarding.

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