Going on vacation takes a lot of preparation for people and pets. Although we like to take our pets with us wherever we go, sometimes that’s not possible. There are a lot of options for you when you have to leave a pet at home.
Family, friends and fans
It’s great when you have people in your life willing to take care of your cat or dog while you’re away. But whether you’re sending your pet out for a “sleepover” for the duration of your trip or having someone check in on them at your place, make sure helpers understand the commitment they’re making. If someone is visiting your house to take care of the cat, are they willing to stop by often and stay a while for playtime? Are they really going to clean your picky cat’s litter box every day, like you do? Are they willing to take your husky for a walk twice a day, even in the dead of winter? If your pet is staying at someone else’s house, do they have children or animals of their own? Does your dog or cat get along with them? Do you have an agreement about what to do if your pet breaks something or ruins the carpet (Not like that would ever happen…)? When everyone understands the expectations, chances are better that you’ll all have a good experience.
Choosing a kennel
Boarding your pet at a kennel has many advantages. You know that your pet will have around-the-clock care in a safe and secure environment. You’ll also be dealing with professionals who have experience with pets of all kinds. But choose wisely—every pet has different needs, so you want to be sure the facility you select is a good fit and that you’re leaving your cat or dog in capable hands.
Get started by asking around. Do you know someone who has a favourite kennel? A personal recommendation can be invaluable. Keep in mind that price shouldn’t be the first consideration—a bargain might turn out to be too good to be true.
Do some checking—is the kennel clean and well-maintained, warm in the winter and well-ventilated in the summer? Is there adequate exercise space? And what is the staff like? Visit the facility, preferably unannounced. This way you will see what it looks like under normal operating conditions. While you’re there, keep an eye out for anything that looks out of place. Seeing empty water bowls, soiled blankets or vermin and insects within the kennel are all red flags.
If you’re going on an extended trip and leaving your pet at a kennel you’ve never used before, try a weekend stay first. That way you’ll have a chance to check things out without making a major commitment. Depending on the kennel, there may even be a pet-cam so you can check in on your dog or cat to see how it’s going!
Professional pet sitters
If you have multiple pets or if there isn’t a suitable kennel nearby, a professional pet sitter might be a great option for you. If the person is new to you, be sure to check their credentials. Many pet sitters are members of organizations like Pet Sitters International or the Better Business Bureau. Pet sitters should also carry liability insurance and may even be licensed and bonded. Remember to ask for references. After all, if the person will be staying in your home with your pets, you want to be sure you’re choosing someone reputable.
Before you make a final decision, have the potential sitter come to your house to get acquainted. Observe how the sitter interacts with your pet. Are they playing with the pets or ignoring them? You want to make sure your pet will receive personal attention during your holiday.
A good pet sitter will make sure your cat or dog is well cared for during your time away. A great pet sitter will also make sure your home stays neat and clean and respects your belongings. By asking around and getting references—and by being clear about house rules—you can make sure your home is in the same great shape you left it in.
Leave a List
Help your caregivers do a great job by leaving a list with some of the details they might need to know. Here are a few things you might want to include:
• Your vet’s contact information
• Where you can be reached
• Your itinerary (when you are leaving, when you will get back)
• Medications, if any, and how and when to give them
• Your pet’s routine – when to walk the dog or feed the cat
• Any special instructions about your home or preferences
A dog or cat with a medical condition may need special care while you are away. Before you leave, check with your sitter or kennel to ensure they fully understand how to look after your pet. Hopefully, there won’t be problems but make sure you know what steps the caregiver will take if your pet becomes ill or is injured.
Remember – if you’ve taken the right steps and feel confident about the care your cat or dog will receive in your absence, everyone will enjoy the vacation more, and look forward to a healthy and happy reunion.
Planning a trip with your pet? Read our Travel & Pet article.