There is a growing demand in Vietnam for pet hospitality services, as more and more pet owners begin treating their pets as family members. Sometimes, it’s just not possible to take your four-legged kids along on business trips, family visits or vacations. So, a safe, clean, comfortable, well-managed pet hotel or boarding kennel is required. These facilities usually offer short term (two to three nights) to longer term boarding.

Pet hotels are indoor boarding facilities consisting of rooms or suites mimicking the home environment, often associated with pet shops or veterinarian clinics. The other type of service is a dog boarding kennel, which usually consists sleeping kennels and a large off-leash outdoor area where socialisation and interaction of dogs is maximised.

Over the past few years, pet hospitality service providers have flourished in Vietnam. The first pet hotel was set up by a pet lover and author, Nguyen Bao Sinh. The Bao Sinh Cat Dog Resort, which opened in Hanoi in 2000, is a five-star boarding service which some say has set the standard for the pet hospitality industry in Vietnam.

This country’s pet hospitality industry is not regulated, unlike in other countries where there is a rigorous licensing process. Prospective owners and personnel are screened to determine if they have the appropriate knowledge and experience with dogs or cats. Some countries have governing associations that set standards with strict policies, rules and regulations, including periodic on-site inspections for cleanliness and acceptable behaviour of boarded pets. Not so, in Vietnam.

To protect pet owners, their pets and boarding service providers in Vietnam, a detailed application process should be expected with a form signed by both parties. This form will allow a service provider to build a profile of your dog or cat including name, known health issues, vaccinations*, age, sex, breed and behaviour, especially regarding aggressive or anti-social pets. The form should include all vital contact information from both parties, especially in case of emergency. Essentially, this application form should resemble a contract with terms and conditions. This application and screening process will also allow the pet owner to consider if their pets are actually suitable for boarding.

Finally, both parties must acknowledge and agree, in writing, that there are potential risks and liabilities with boarding. Dogs are unpredictable, especially when interacting with other dogs. Dogs may get hurt or damage property. The service provider should include a release waiver of liability detailing extra costs that might arise from incidents at the boarding facility, including but damage of property and emergency medical treatment.

Dog owners should provide an up-to-date health passport to show they’re vaccinated against distemper, canine parvovirus, bordetella, rabies, canine influenza and kennel cough. All dogs must be spayed or neutered and be free of fleas and ticks.

Wayne Capriotti, who has owned pets (dogs, cats and fish) in Vietnam for eight years, is the co-founder and publisher of Me Thu Cung (Passion for Pets), one of the first pet magazines in the country.