Looking for a boarding kennel for your pet? Prices vary

WASHINGTON — New surveys of Washington, D.C. area kennels show prices to board a pet for a week can vary by more than $500, according to a local consumers’ group.

Secret shoppers from Washington Consumers’ Checkbook placed calls to 60 area kennels to get quotes for boarding a medium sized dog for a week. The prices ranged from $175 to $742.

“You don’t have to pay Ritz-Carlton-type prices at one of these spa like kennels to get great care,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor at Checkbook.org. “A lot of the lower priced places had great ratings from their customers.”

Brasler warns that extra expenses can quickly add up:

  • Pets’ pills can cost $2 or more per pill per day
  • Extra attention, such as exercise time, can cost $10 or more per day
  • Limited pick-up, drop-off times can make it difficult to avoid paying for an extra day.

Consumers’ Checkbook’s advice on how to select a kennel that’s right for your dog:

  • Check cleanliness and make sure the kennel isn’t overly smelly
  • If the dogs have indoor and outdoor runs, make sure they’re large enough with protection from the elements
  • Is staff available 24 hours a day?
  • Do the staff seem to have a true affection for pets?
  • Be aware of weekend pick-up, drop-off times that can force having to pay for an extra day
  • Unannounced tours/inspections should be welcome.

“It’s really important that kennels are transparent – that they let prospective customers or current customers come in and check the place out and inspect it,” Brasler said.

What about pet sitters?

“They’re a lot more expensive than kennels,”  Brasler said. “They’re per night, often about double the cost of what it is to stay at even a reasonably priced kennel. But, if you have more than one dog, most pet sitters charge by visit, not by animal. So if you have two or even three dogs, then your costs are going to be in line with what a kennel is going to charge, because kennels charge per pet.”

Through a special arrangement with Washington Consumers’ Checkbook, WTOP.com readers can see quality and price ratings for area kennels for a limited time.

For the ratings, pet owners were surveyed on kennels they’ve used and asked about categories including: affection toward animal, pick-up and drop-off arrangements, quality of staff and overall quality. Veterinarians were asked which kennels they like best and which they’d avoid.

Consumers’ Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services is an independent, nonprofit consumer organization founded in 1974. It has been an innovator in providing information to help consumers make smarter choices for more than 40 years.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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