UNDATED - As much as your pets might be part of your family, you can't take always take them with you on trips.

With this in mind, the Better Business Bureau offers advice for pet owners on finding dependable kennels and pet care services during the holiday season.

Every year, the Better Business Bureau hears from hundreds of disgruntled pet owners. Their complaints? Poor kennel care for their pets. Some of these owners say they arrive home to their pet, only to find it severely dehydrated, malnourished and even rife with fleas or ticks.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to zero in on a reliable kennel and avoid this horrible situation entirely.

  • Pay the kennel a visit before you board your pet. Pay attention to cleanliness, smell and quality of kennels and cages.
  • Ask a lot of questions of the owner and staff. Find out if your pet will be in contact with other animals.
  • Ask about the frequency of feeding, watering and exercise , and be informed of what will happen in the event of a medical emergency.
  • Trust your instincts about a place, and remember to ask pet owners you know if they've used a reputable kennel in the past.

Finally, check online ratings for the kennel your thinking of using to see how other people felt about the services and make sure they have a good track record.