If you’re planning your vacation this summer, don’t forget about your pets! Whether you’re got an energetic puppy, an old cat or a more exotic pet – it’s easy to forget about making the appropriate arrangements for your pets when you’re planning your summer escape.
Generally, there are two main pet care options for those going on vacation – a pet sitter or a kennel. Both have their pros and cons depending on various factors which we consider below.
If you travel regularly, and / or travel for longer periods of time, then a kennel may not be the right choice. Alternatively, pet sitting services means your pet receives one-on-one care when you’re away in the comfort of familiar surroundings and routines. Because they know they don’t have to leave home, your pets anxiety is greatly reduced when they see you take your suitcase out.
The boarding experience can benefit those dogs in their early years. Cage-free boarding provides young dogs with lots of exercise and playtime with other dogs — it can be like going to camp! But as they get older, their energy level changes and it can be better for them to be at home. As your pet ages, the introduction of a new environment can be taxing and sometimes increase levels of anxiety. Using in-home care for older pets will give them the personalized attention they need and give you peace of mind.
When choosing a pet sitter, it is extremely important to hire a professional with references and who is insured. Always do a background check and have a backup plan should something happen or your sitter’s schedule changes. When interviewing a pet-sitter, compile a list of important questions about previous work experience and ask for references. It is also vital to schedule a ‘playdate’ between your pet and potential sitter. Let him or her take your pet on a walk and remain half a block behind them to observe your dog and the pet sitter’s behaviours. If something doesn’t feel right, listen to your instincts and keep interviewing.
Just like hiring a pet sitter, boarding your four-legged friend can also be a healthy option. Letting your pet socialize is an important part of being a pet-owner, as it teaches him or her how to interact with other animals, enjoy friendly carousing, adapt to change and transition in new situations. Cage-free boarding facilities will give your pet a sense of independence, as well as plenty of space for running around and playing. A lot of dogs like all the fun and games that come with their peers at the dog run, but they also need downtime. Look for a boarding facility that provides both intimate and group activity settings.
The biggest question for any pet owner considering boarding or in-home care is ‘what will my dog do all day?’ For home care, be sure to create a schedule and go over it with your sitter. This should include when and how your dog takes meals, medical information, a walk schedule, grooming needs and playtime and bedtime routines. In addition, have an emergency plan in place with important contact phone numbers and emergency meeting location.
If you are choosing a kennel, ask the kennel to detail what your animal will be doing and what interaction your pet will have with other animals and with the kennel staff — and how long and how often. It is essential that the boarding facility pairs your pet with others of similar disposition and provides regular exercise and playtime rotations throughout the day. When looking at different kennels, observe the amount of dogs being boarded. Overcrowding can lead to aggressive behaviour, which will ensure a difficult situation for both you and your pet. Before considering boarding, make sure your pet is up-to-date on all vaccines, including rabies, and provide a spay/neuter verification.
Whether you choose in-home pet care or find the perfect kennel, you need to feel comfortable leaving and trusting that your dog’s care translates into love and attention.