Have you been making plans for a much-needed vacation? If you have, and if you’re a pet owner, you’re probably already experiencing some anxiety and guilt about leaving them behind.
Top animal trainers caution pet owners against the ‘Oh-my-God-I-can’t-leave’ feeling, which ultimately has more to do with the owner than the pet.
Whether you’re gone a week or a month, there are several options for your pet’s comfort and care.
What you choose depends on how much you trust others to care for them, as well as how much money you’re willing to spend.
Here are four common options.
Option #1 – Family, Friend, or Neighbor
Depending on how trustworthy and conscientious are your family, friends or neighbors, asking them to care for your pet during your absence may be ideal. Hopefully they already are familiar with your pet and have a natural affection for animals.
This option is certainly the cheapest, but be sure the person understands that this is more than a favor, it’s a commitment.
They probably will insist that they not be paid, but you can certainly make their job a bit easier by providing an automatic water fountain and a food dispenser for your pet.
Option #2 – Pet Sitters
Hiring someone to come to your home is another great choice. Your pet has the security of staying in their own environment which, for many older animals, may be the only option.
Consider finding a professional from the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or, at the very least, ask your veterinarian for a list of contacts.
Once you’ve hired the pet sitter, it’s not a bad idea to have a back-up sitter in case of emergency. You’ll want to establish how often the sitter comes to your home.
It may even be possible for a sitter to stay at your home for the duration.
Always establish clear expectations of how much care and attention you require for your pet.
Option #3 – In-Home Pet Boarding
Taking your pet to an individual’s home while you vacation is a bit more intimate than using a pet sitter or a boarding kennel.
It’s likely that this type of sitter has pets of their own, so you’ll need to visit the home to assess the overall environment and how your pet will adapt to it.
In-home pet boarding offers more daily interaction, socialization and attention than the other options. Often, it’s much more affordable as well.
Some people dislike giving their house key or security code to a pet sitter. For them, in-home pet boarding is the perfect scenario.
Option #4 – Boarding Kennels
A standard option for pet care is a boarding kennel or cattery. Be sure to allow plenty of time to call ahead for availability, as well as time to research area kennels.
The caretakers should be licensed and the kennel certified with Pet Care Services Association.
Standard questions to ask kennel caretakers are frequency of exercise for the pet, grooming options, and staff-to-pet ratio.
Dogs do well at kennels because they are social animals. Cats do much better in feline-only kennels (or catteries).
Unless cats are from the same family, they shouldn’t be put in a room with other cats in order to avoid fighting or mating.
Planning Ahead Is Key
Traveling when you have pets doesn’t have to be stressful.
Whatever choice is made for your pet’s care while you are away, be sure to leave behind detailed instructions. Leave your contact information, as well as that of your veterinarian in case of an emergency.
What experiences have you had while leaving your pet in the care of others? Why not share any advice that you have had below.