by Bailey White
For many canine owners, finding the right fit for doggy day care is a challenge. Yet in Arkansas, we have plenty of experts who are committed to quality care for your pup. And with some good ol’ detective work, you should find the right match.
Mandy Marshall, co-founder of the Hounds Lounge Pet Resort & Spa locations throughout the state, says that finding reputable doggy care starts with asking questions and researching what is important to you as an owner.
Does the business require vaccines? How much exercise is there? How many potty breaks do they get?
These are just a few of the questions she recommends when considering boarding options. After a personal experience with a less-than-ideal boarding situation with her two furry kids, Marshall makes sure that her business addresses these questions up-front.
“After our dog-sitter moved away from Little Rock, the only option we had was to board,” Marshall says. “After taking a tour of all the facilities in Central Arkansas and picking the best option, my husband Justin and I still just didn’t have the warm and fuzzies.”
After their second time boarding with the same company, Marshall was left uneasy. She knew the local industry needed a makeover.
Many research-centric trips to numerous facilities and expos across the country later, the Marshalls opened their first Hounds Lounge location in Little Rock in July of 2016. Today, Hounds Lounge Pet Resort & Spa has four locations in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Fayetteville. “We are 100 percent transparent with pet owners, which gives pet parents peace of mind,” Marshall says. This business quality ensures all pet parents headed into weekend getaways and family vacations that their dog is just as much on vacation as their owners.
At the Hounds Lounge, overnight guests are granted access to an all-inclusive, individual hotel suites for $39.99.
During the day, dogs are welcome to roam off-leash during doggy daycare while being supervised by a team of staff that is trained and tested to understand dog body language.
The luxury pet resort also offers day-play packages, which run for $11 for six-hour stays and $19 for 19 hours of play. Self-washing stations, spa treatments, a la carte services and grooming appointments are also available at the Hounds Lounge.
To schedule appointments and overnight stays, Marshall points out that the Lounge takes advantage of modern-day technology and makes scheduling easy on their website.
“If someone wants to sign their puppy up, they can go on our website and click a button that says create a pet profile,” Marshall says. The pet profile makes sure each pup is on-track with vaccines and safe to hang out and layout at the Lounge.
Required vaccinations needed for playtime and board at Hounds Lounge include rabies, bordetella, canine influenza and the annual DHPP vaccines (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus).
“For the first few years of a dog’s life, it is really important to get all the core vaccines like parvo, distemper and rabies,” says Dr. Kim Miller, co-founder and veterinarian at Chenal Valley Animal Hospital (CVAH) in west Little Rock.
Miller, who has practiced veterinary medicine at CVAH since 2004, stresses the importance of vaccinations that boarding facilities like Hounds Lounge requires of its occupants. Miller urges pet owners to invest in the $60 to $80 sets of immunization every month in their puppyhood.
In addition to staying up to date with standard vaccinations, Miller emphasizes the need for heartworm preventative measures.
“In the South, heartworm prevention is important because mosquitoes carry heartworms,” she says.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), heartworm prevention, which is performed either with monthly medication or semi-annual and annual injections, typically runs a pet-parent $5-$15 a month. Although if a dog contracts heartworm disease, treatment costs can get up to $400-$1000, says the AAHA.
It’s important to note that routine check-ups and standard veterinary care costs easily add up. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), routine vet visits, including wellness check-ups, vaccines, lab tests and dental care, could cost an owner around $700 to $1,500 a year, even when excluding emergency visits and pet-medication costs.
When it comes to covering the ever-growing bills of doggy health care, many opt to buy a pet insurance plan to aid in the overall cost of veterinary needs.
“Definitely look into pet insurance, it pays off especially for young dogs,” Miller says.
Although proper research is necessary when deciphering which pet insurance plan matches your criteria the best, Miller suggests looking into Nationwide’s pet insurance policies that start at $35 a month.
In addition to pet insurance, Miller suggests looking into the quality of food you provide for your canine kid. Although she highly recommends staying away from food fads such as the grain-free dog-food trend, she stresses that you can get good food for affordable prices.
Miller says top-researched brands like IAMS, Purina and Pedigree are quality options that she uses herself. For a 40-pound bag of dry adult-dog food, these brands typically have options that range from $25-$45.
Although it is no secret that taking care of a furry friend is quite the investment, pet owners continue to sign boarding and vet bills in peace. Why? Because the companionship of a canines, no matter how much they may cost us, is a partnership we’ll forever label as priceless.