By planning ahead, you can reduce your worries about leaving your pet behind while you head out on vacation. Whether you're having a pet sitter visit your house or you're boarding your furry friend, there are a few things you can do to make your trip away easier on you and your pet.
Here are a few tips that can help you decide which option suits you best and prepare your pet for the stay in a way that keeps him comfortable and safe.
Pet boarding option #1: Boarding facilities
It’s not always possible or desirable to take pets on vacation. Booking a stay at a boarding facility is one option if you’ll be leaving your pet behind. Like hotels for animals, boarding facilities provide a comfortable place for your animal to sleep, eat and exercise. Although many facilities specialize in boarding dogs, it's possible to find others that care for cats, birds and small companion animals as well. Your veterinarian may have boarding facilities, so don’t forget to check.
Pet boarding option #2: Pet sitters
If your furry friend isn't too keen on spending time around unfamiliar animals or has medical needs, you would prefer someone with experience take care of - or if you simply think they would be more comfortable with the familiarity of his own home while you're away - a professional pet sitter is another option. Some sitters can care for your pet 24/7 and stay in your home, while others can drop by periodically during the day to provide meals, attention and time to romp. Reputable pet sitters should be able to provide references. Asking your veterinarian is a good way to find a trusted sitter.
Cat owners are generally more comfortable leaving their pets at home. Cats typically don’t require as much care while you’re away as dogs do, since they don’t need to be walked or let outside. A daily visit by a pet sitter to refill food and water bowls, clean cat litter boxes and provide a little scratching behind the ears should suffice.
Prepping your pet for the kennel or sitter
Here are some tips for readying your dog or cat for a boarding facility or a pet sitter:
- Visit the veterinarian to get vaccinations, flea or tick treatments, medications and documents to prove your pet is healthy enough to stay at a boarding facility.
- Put a collar on your pet that has a tag with your cell phone number on it.
- Ensure your pet has his regular food, all medications, instructions, health documents, emergency contact information, your veterinarian’s contact information and a few pet toys.
- Provide the sitter or boarding facility with a schedule of your dog’s or cat’s feedings, medication dosages and other activities. Offer solutions to any behavioral issues that might arise in your absence.
- Leave an unwashed tee shirt of yours with your dog or cat so he can be comforted by your scent while you’re away.
While your pet is likely to have a great time exploring a new space at a kennel or having your house to themselves for a few days, it's important to keep his safety in mind. Enjoy more peace of mind on your trip by purchasing pet insurance which may offset veterinary expenses should your pet experience illness or injury at the kennel or in the care of a sitter.