How To Board Your Vaccine-Free Pet

Vaccination Required?

You’ve been planning a fabulous trip. But there’s a problem and it seems to be a big one. Most boarding facilities require every vaccination under the sun but you don’t vaccinate your pets.

Every kennel has their own rules for admission. Both dogs and cats need to be up to date with their “combo” vaccines (DHLPP and FVRCP), rabies, and for dogs bordetella and cats leukemia vaccines. Really?

Dr. Jeff Feinman in Fairfield County CT helps you decide when to vaccinate.

Required by law?

This poses a problem for your getaway. You’ve worked hard at resisting your non-holistic veterinarian’s annual vaccination recommendations. Your minimally vaccinated animal companions have been healthier than your friend’s fully vaccinated pets as a result.

Understandably, you’d like to keep it that way. Well, no one ever said that swimming against the tide is easy. Natural rearing and holistic care sometimes require extra work. Keeping your pet close to nature is worth it though.

You’d like to find a boarding facility that is supportive of your anti-vax point of view (yes, they exist). The best place to start your search is ask your local friends, neighbors or receptionists of  local holistic vets. One of them has probably already encountered the same problem and can recommend a referral. They know of a fabulous place. Problem solved!

Google To The Rescue

Unfortunately it’s not always so easy. What can you do? This is where online research, phone calls and site visits come into play. Enter “minimal vaccination kennel” and your location into Google. You’ll get a long list. Most of these can be ruled out right away with a quick scan of their website.

The remaining candidates will then need to be called. Sometimes it’s obvious within a few seconds that this is not the place for you. If you hear the words “epidemic”, “fatal”, “strictly enforced”, then they probably don’t want to work with you. That’s OK. Just hang up and move on.

Questions To Ask Of Potential Kennels

Finally though you’ll talk to someone who sounds reasonable. Ask them the following questions:

1-Will you accept my (dog or cat) who is healthy but minimally vaccinated?

2-How about if s/he has vaccine titers that show adequate dis-ease protection?

3-Can I sign a waiver that would absolve you of any responsibility if my pet catches an infectious dis-ease while there (oh, and by the way have you had any recent cough, flu, etc. outbreaks?).

4-If they won’t agree to any of the above, ask if they will sign a waiver accepting responsibility if your pet gets sick from their required vaccines.

Certified vet homeopath Dr. Jeff Feinman will help your pet  holistically.

“I prefer to be at home”

In my experience, only about 1/3 of the kennels will not work with you. These kennel employees say that no harm can come from vaccination. Ironically though, I’ve also never heard of one of these vaccine pushers agreeing to #4.

Despite their misgivings they agree to allow your pet to stay in their kennel. Now you’ve found a potential place to safely leave your beloved companion while you are away. They sound good on the phone but you still want to make sure.

You pop over for a visit. But they won’t let you tour the facility or even see where your pet will be kept without an appointment. Now what? Just walk away and don’t look back. You have other options. Even if they seem to be the only game in town.

Other Options For When You Go Away

Have you considered finding a pet sitter or home boarding situation? More and more of these choices are available nowadays. When it comes to vaccine requirements, these are the most flexible options. Having someone stay in your home has many other benefits as well.

Vaccine requirements are usually not an issue for someone who pet sits in your home. This is true as well for pet sitters who visit a few times/day. Periodic visits work very well for most cats. Even less active dogs can be fine with just two or three pet-sitter visits/day.

Whether this is a viable option for your pet depends on her need for human interaction and mental and physical stimulation. The greater the need, the more daily visits, walks, etc. This can become very costly.

You’re still not out of luck even if house or visiting pet sitters have been ruled out. Home boarding, in someone else’s home, is another great option.

Camp For Your Pup!

This is my personal **favorite way to care for my dogs when I go away.  In the right situation, home boarding can provide the best of both worlds. Home boarding is usually unnecessary for most cats. They tend to be more solitary and usually need less active care.

Dr. Jeff Feinman is a certified vet homeopath in CT who can help you decide the best  ways to care for your pets.

Running with the pack!

Think of this as camp for your pup. S/he will both get round-the clock care as well as a new pack to hang out and romp with day and night. Why’s that? These homes usually take in multiple boarders at a time and facilitate their running and playing.

Of course this wonderful playtime only works for well-socialized dogs. Anxious and aggressive behavior is an obstacle both to home-boarding as well as a happy life. I’ve discussed ways to help anxious pets that need to board here.

Home boarding sounds like the perfect solution, right? Unfortunately it’s not thanks to the legal requirement for rabies vaccination. This applies to every facility that boards dogs and cats. Now what? It seems like we’re back to square one? But we’re not.

Every vaccine that can be avoided is helpful. OK, great, but you started reading this article wanting to avoid all vaccinations yet here I am saying that the rabies jab is often unavoidable in kennel and even home-boarding situations. The only way to avoid it altogether is to use a house or pet sitter in your home.

Fortunately, there is a way to reduce resultant rabies problems.

Is There Really Any Proper Method To Vaccinate?

Like most choices in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way. The wrong way is to vaccinate your pet who already has an overt dis-ease process or an early warning sign of imbalance. This imbalance may already be causing a problem such as a predisposition to allergic skin and ear diseases, diarrheas and sensitive stomach, etc. A vaccine given at this time can cause major chaos.

Even vaccine inserts tell you to never vaccinate imbalanced (“sick”) pets. Defer that rabies vaccine if your pet is sick. Your regular vet should be willing to write a waiver. This alone may be sufficient for boarding purposes.

Let’s say that you’ve decided to give that rabies jab. I strongly advise using the following approach, whenever a vaccination is absolutely necessary.

One to two months prior to the inoculation schedule an appointment with a veterinary homeopath. Even if your pet seems healthy. You can easily find one by searching here.

During this appointment the vet can help you determine your pet’s state of energetic balance. In many cases, internal homeopathic treatment needs to be continued or initiated at least a few weeks before vaccinating.

Making the right choice when leaving your beloved pet when you go on vacation will help give you piece of mind. Board them at home if you want to avoid all vaccinations. Please post below if you have a favorite kennel or pet sitter here in CT. **My favorite local canine “camp” is in Bethel CT @ Snouts And Kisses.

Dr. Jeff

45 Comments
  1. I have a Pet Care center in Putney VT. we will accept titers. I am trying to work with my clients on diet and the proper use of vaccines, flea control, etc. So many wont listen to me. Then they wonder why their pets are unhealthy! Hard to change most vets mind in this area. I work with a good one who listens to me and what I want for my own pets. as a breeder of pointers I care about what goes in to my own dogs and do worry about my clients pets. Most pet owners want a quick fix and cheap way out.

    • Cathy, it’s hard when the vet has drilled it in to their heads. I had 2 Labs come into the kennel over the weekend and they are freaky, fearful and vaccinated for everything but Rabies every year . The owner presented the paper work from the vet and was all proud that they were totally UTD.

    • Hi Cathy Rounds..I to live in.Vt…just moved here to Belvidere a couple months ago…and would love to know more about treating our pets more naturally. Would love to hear from u…I have a Saint and Two Cockers and cats….

    • Fantastic Cathy! I’d appreciate if you send me your pet care center contact info.

      I can then add it to my growing database of holistically-oriented pet care facilities.

      Thanks.

      Dr. Jeff

  2. Goldgrove Pet Resort in Monroe, NC accepts minimally vaxed pets. I take my dogs there ( I work there on occasion also) and use a pet sitter.

  3. Did not see a doctor in Tennessee or Georgia. I live in the Nashville area, any doctors within a reasonable distance?

    • Unfortunately I don’t know of a homeopath locally Linda. I actually work with a few pet owners in the Nashville area for just that reason.

      If you like, I can check with one of my clients down there if they have a holistically-oriented local vet. Unfortunately, s/he won’t be a vet homeopath. I wish there more of us!

      Dr. Jeff

    • Dr. Terry Brockman at Richland Animal Clinic in Nashville, TN, prescribes homeopathic meds and Chinese herbs. She does acupuncture, cold laser, etc. I do my own research and work well with her.

      There are a few other wholistic vets here as well.

  4. Our boarding, Grooming, and Training facility in Noethern NM does not require vaccinations, does accept titers, and we work with several holistic vets in the area.

  5. Do you have a listing of veterinary homeopaths that you recommend? I live in MA near the RI border. I tried one once and was totally dissatisfied. Would like to try another. Thanks.

    • Thanks for asking Kathy. I’m so sorry for any problems you may have had with your previous vet homeopath.

      If you contact me *privately*, I’d like to address these concerns. Especially if this was a certified vet homeopath.

      Thanks again!

      Dr. Jeff

  6. I board dogs in my home in So. California. I also accept titers for rabies. http://www.MAnPAW.com
    Are there titers for other vaccines/diseases?

    • Absolutely Gina. The most commonly run canine titers are for Distemper and Parvo. These are the ones that can help circumvent the vaccine requirements of many kennels.

      Titers can also be run for various dis-eases such as Lyme, Anaplasma, etc.

      Interestingly, the in-clinic tick screen is also an antibody test (like a titer). Of course when these titers are positive most vets say that = the disease. Yet this is not the case.

      A positive screen of this sort, similar to vaccine titers, just tells us that there are antibodies against the organism (whether it’s the Borrelia of Lyme, distemper, etc.). NOT the disease. So a positive test for Lyme does not mean that the pet has Lyme disease.

      Dr. Jeff

  7. First, PLEASE understand, an in NO WAY criticizing anyone who has to leave puppy kids to travel. I did that, ONCE, and when I came back my sweet dobie girl was dead. This was in 1977, there were NO sites devoted to boarding, nothing on web … there WAS no web! So, no matter WHAT, I take my babies everywhere I go PERIOD. If I can’t take them, I do NOT go.I don’t care WHO gives a good rating, who’s dogs have been to where, how nice the staff is. I just DON’T CARE. Cuz in the end, if even the tiniest mistake is made … MY BABY is the one who ended up dead and this will NEVER happen to mine again!

    • I’m so sorry for this horrible experience Trini.

      It’s great though that you now can travel with your canine companions.

      Dr. Jeff

  8. Dr. Jeff, while I no longer have a website (shut down the Yahoo site, building a new one–slowly, as I’m busy, busy, busy), my business name is RiverDog Agility & Training Center. I offer DayCamp Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Kennel Free boarding seven days a week in my home, limited to four Guests at a time and I accept titers. My own girls (3 Border Collies,2 rescued), are also minimally vaccinated. Unfortunately, as I am in business I am required to have my girls vaccinated for Rabies <\3 local establishment won't allow me to operate w/o that vaccination. Angers me no end!

    I'm located in Cottonwood, CA. The best way to contact me is via text and/or email as I don't talk on the phone during DayCamp hours (pups KNOW when a person is distracted and get up to mischief♡).

    You have my email and my text or phone message number is 530-227-3877. I generally don't take pups " off the street", unless there are valid references. I require consultations for regular guests, but with excellent references, whom I may contact, I make exceptions. I've been in business 10 years, and have numerous references of my own.

    Of course ALL guests must be very social, and as we're in the country, be treated for fleas and ticks. But there are MANY holistic ways to treat for them. I use a spray made up of Young Living Essential Oils. My girls are allergic to fleas. . .and have bad reactions to the poisonous flea/tick products vets sell. This spray works for me and has the added benefit of being a mosquito repellent and people can use it too!

    Thanks for considering placing me on your reference list!

    Best regards,
    Lyn Murray, Owner
    RiverDog

  9. Thanks Lyn. I hope that anyone looking for a home boarding situation in Northern CA texts or emails you. I know that some of my clients will!

    Dr. Jeff

  10. I own a boarding and daycare facility in Florida and am more than happy to accept titers (except rabies). Check us out at http://www.thecontentedcanine.com
    I would also like to add something about the “home boarding” you mention. Many of these places are operating illegally (not paying taxes, not properly zoned, etc). I’m not saying all home based facilities are illegal, as I am a *legal* one myself, but unfortunately many of them are, especially the ones that only take in a couple dogs at a time. They are typically not the owner’s main source of income, and as such, your pets may not be receiving the level of care you are expecting as their caregiver may have other work responsibilities. I would also be wary of any facility that is willing to cheat the system and operate against the rules because you never know what other areas they are willing to “cheat” on. Will they give your dog’s meds at the scheduled time? Follow your feeding instructions? Follow industry standards for running a safe facility? Maybe not. Finding a facility that has a vaccination philosophy similar to yours is important. Once you’ve accomplished that, do your pet a favor and make sure the facility is operating legally. If it is, the peace of mind you’ll have while traveling will be invaluable.

  11. Team Little. is a dog walking and pet care company located in Alexandria, VA. We do not require vaccinations for dogs or cats boarded in their home and will accept minimally vaccinated pets or pets with titers for boarding in the homes of our sitters (we do not board in a facility, your pets are our pets when they are in our care) It is wonderful to have articles like this out there to let people know there are options and people/companies who believe your pets’ well being should come before a vet’s bottom line. Thank you!

  12. I have Home-Style Boarding and Daycare for Shelties in Newark, DE. Boarders become part of my pack and have a blast while here.

  13. Newark DE! Do you work with certified vet homeopath extraordinaire Dr. Epstein at http://wilmingtonanimalhospital.com/veterinarians.php ?

    Dr. Jeff

  14. I operate a boarding/training facility in southwest Virginia. I gladly accept minimally vaccinated dogs and titers.

  15. I live in South Georgia only about 15 minutes from Florida. I cannot find any holistic vets in my area especially homeopathic. I always leave my dog with friends whether at my house or theirs if she cannot come with because she has horrible seperation anxiety. Although that proves difficult sometimes. I would love to find a vet in my area that belief in caring for my animals like I do. Dr. Jeff do you know anyone near me? Also if you know of any facilities such as grooming or boarding that is more of a doggie camp that would be great. I took her to petsmart earlier this year for grooming they only require the rabies and that was still current from me adopting her but I do not think I will be keeping it up regularly if I can help it. If I have to I’ll check in to the 3 yr but I’m not even sure about that.

    • Hi Katie-

      Unfortunately I don’t know of any vet homeopaths in your area. Did you check theavh.org referral list? Fortunately, many of us also work remotely by phone and video.

      I’ll let you know if I think of anyone. Also, you can post in the public area of the homevet.com Facebook Page to see i anyone there haas a suggestion.

      Dr. Jeff

  16. I own a small licensed Boarding Kennel. I will accept minimal vaccines as per the protocols set out by Dr. Jean Dodds, so long as puppy shots and first year boosters have been done and proof provided. I have to require 3 yr Rabies vaccine, that is the law and a requirement of insurance and my Kennel License. I will accept Titres for others. But so far no one has produced a Titre Certificate. Too few people who tell me they won’t vaccinate are actually educated on what is needed, I find. Plus the cost of Titre testing in Canada is far more than in the U.S. it seems, a friend had a rabies titre done and was charged $280. There is now an in-house titre kit for Distemper and Parvo approved for use in Canada, but one must travel quite a distance to find a Vet using it!

    I live where I work. I require an appointment when visiting the kennel, “drop ins” are not welcomed. I might be cleaning the runs, picking up poop, doing laundry, having a shower after my chores (trust me, you don’t really want to see me in a towel), out back with the dogs at play in the yard, or heaven forbid, out picking up groceries or food for my own dogs, or at the Vet with one of my foster dogs. I work with dogs all day. I deal with people by appointment.

  17. Hi
    I have a holistic based facility for boarding, training, grooming and daycare in Nashua NH. I have my own raw pet food company called Pawfectly Raw New England so I welcome raw feeding as well!!

  18. Tracy, I’d appreciate if you tell us the best way to contact you.

    Dr. Jeff

  19. Hi Dr. Jeff, In the Newtown CT area, the best pet sitting service is Always Safe at Home owned by Emily Blankschen. ASAH provides, midday walks, trail hikes and vacation pet sitting in your home. She can be reached at 203-770-2937 or esr3171@yahoo.com. Web site: http://www.alwayssafeathome.com. This company has been family-owned for almost 20 years and has over 900 customers in Newtown, Southbury and Monroe.

  20. Hi Dr. Jeff. Do you know of any boarding facilities in Los Angeles, CA? I havent gone on vacation in over 5 years because my dogs are not vaccinated (they are very allergic and swell up) and I have them under hollistic care. They are also on Dr. Bamford’s raw diet. I could really use a vacation if there is a boarding facility or sitter in my area who can accomodate to my 5 dachschunds!

    • Great question Kandie. I don’t know of one offhand but will double check for a referral and get back to you. Have you asked your local vet?

      Dr. Jeff

      • I have not. My vet is not hollistic. He respects my choice to not vaccinate and thats about it.

  21. Unfortunately Kandie I also couldn’t find an amenable kennel or home boarding in LA (though I bet they exist).

    I checked with my LA colleague Dr.Rick Palmquist (who also has a great (Huffington Post blog) and he also did not have any suggestions. His blog page is: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-palmquist-dvm/

    Sorry.

    Dr. Jeff

  22. Hi Dr. Jeff. I operate a small boarding facility in Havana, Florida, just north of Tallahassee called Shady Rest Paws Resort. (www.shadyrestpawsresort.com) I decided a couple of years ago that it is not my job to be the vaccination police and have it stated in my policies. I request that my customers not vaccinate prior to coming to my facility. I do not want anyones dog shedding the vaccines and it gives the immune compromised dogs that should not vaccinate a place to go. I ask that my customers make their appointments for any routine care after the boarding visit. I also welcome raw and home feeders and take the opportunity to educate anyone that will listen to me on vaccinations, feeding fresh wholesome food, how to keep your dogs flea free without pesticides etc. I am probably too vocal but it pains me to see these dogs that I could help have a healthier happy life keep going down at such an early age. Anyway, the only dogs I will refuse are dogs that are not house trained or have fleas or ticks (will not tolerate). I have a 4 acre wooded area for the dogs to play, run, chase squirrels and just be a dog twice a day. I also have a living room in the facility to provide a period of time each day for a home like experience to play with toys or just sit on the couch and watch some tv with me. I try really hard to provide a stress free environment and have rooms and not kennels. I wish very much you were in my area. I really need a good homeopath…..

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  26. Hello! I petsit in client’s homes near Bolton/Glastonbury CT and have numerous clients that prefer not to vaccinate. I feel it is a family decision, not a government one. Just like children, each dog or cat is an individual, with different sensitivities, stressors and tolerance levels. I do offer raw food delivery/feeding and advice. I buy Bravo locally packaged in Manchester CT. I take dogs off-leash on hikes. I make my own flea and tick preventive with essential oils. I had a difficult time finding a Vet I was compatible with, yes my lab has his rabies shot. I found Manchester Veterinary Hospital to be more accommodating, I know of too many pets on steroids when they really need a diet change and more exercise. http://www.trailrompers.com

  27. Thanks Amber. I’m glad to hear that you are helping pets more holistically.

    The more people we educate, the better.

    If you, or anyone you know, would like updates from me, they can join my holistic pet care community by signing up below or at: http://bit.ly/1LCbIGo

    Have a great evening.

    Dr. Jeff

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