All pets want to go but if it isn’t possible to bring your dog along on your vacation, you’ll have to arrange for his care while you’re away. One alternative is to have a reliable friend, family member, or neighbor come to your home several times a day to feed, water, exercise, and spend time with your dog. You could also hire a professional pet-sitter to perform these duties. And often times Vet Practices will board a limited number of pets. Lots to consider.Another solution is to board your dog at a reputable kennel like most owners have done for years. Prices and services for kennels vary, but whether you choose your vet’s office or a lavish “bed-and-biscuit” resort with complementary grooming and aromatherapy, it is important to trust your gut and do due diligence regarding where your pet will stay.
How your pet adjusts to boarding will depend on several factors. Many dogs are very content at a boarding facility, while others lose their appetites and long for home. Cats are both better and worse clients. They generally hate change and travel, so they may be unhappy at a boarding facility. But they rarely get so upset that they refuse to eat or drink.
You may want to assume that your pet’s discomfort at a boarding facility is due to its unbearable longing for you. But there are plenty of other reasons a pet might not enjoy the kennel. A dog that’s used to plenty of outdoor exercise may be fine for a day or two at a kennel, but any longer and it will want more exercise than it can get in a small run. A dog that’s used to enjoying table scraps with dinner every night may refuse to eat, not because it’s stressed, but because it’s protesting the bland diet.
Now if you haven’t been to a pet boarding facility in a while, you might be surprised at today’s accommodations. While some facilities still favor long rows of kennels–where, for an extra fee, your pet may also have access to a small outdoor run a variety of optional improvements definitely have been made in the business of pet boarding.
If your pet has been crate trained, then staying in a crate or kennel will probably make your furry friend feel more secure while away from home. But for pets that aren’t crate trained, staying in a crate or kennel can feel well, like jail. Many area boarding kennels realize this and have developed opinions to how they house animals now known as family members.
One new trend available only at certain types boarding facilities is to keep the pets in large rooms together as a pack, where the animals can interact with each other and socialize. While this may be a good choice for many pets, it comes with its own set of unique risks. It’s important that the person managing the kennel has experience dealing with animals that are unfamiliar with each other and have a variety of personalities that needs to be considered.
Now many cats, particularly those that are altered, will share a room with another foreign cat as long as the room is large enough and there are plenty of litter boxes. Dogs, however, present a challenge. Someone with experience can sort dogs according to size and temperament rather easily. A less experienced handler may recognize aggression and separate the dogs that have this trait. That leaves the nervous or overly submissive dog in a pack with more aggressive dogs. While no fights may result, the less dominate dog could be stressed during its stay at this type of boarding business.
Before you decide to leave your pet at a facility that allows the animals to stay in communal rooms, visit the facility to see if the animals seem relaxed and happy. Look for any animal that seems stressed. Signs of stress in dogs include shaking, scratching, refusing to eat, avoiding eye contact and biting or growling. Signs that a cat is stressed include spraying, pacing, pulling at fur and excessive meowing.
And boarding at your veterinarian’s facility can be an excellent choice if your pet has a health condition or is elderly. Although a quality pet boarding facility will be equipped to deal with emergencies, for the pet with preexisting conditions, being at the vet is a definite benefit. Many veterinarians provide this service for clients. Pet boarding is normally a secondary business for most veterinarians, and vet offices, set up with medical issues in mind, may not have the most up-to-date boarding facilities. Again, something to consider.
And of course there are pet sitters that can do much more than provide your pet with food and water while you’re away. A good pet sitter also spends quality time with the animal, gives him exercise and knows how to tell if he needs veterinary attention. What’s more, pet sitters typically offer additional services, such as taking in mail and newspapers and watering plants but just because someone calls themself a pet sitter doesn’t mean they are qualified to do the job.
Even if you like what you hear from the pet sitter and from the references, it’s important to have the prospective pet sitter come to your home to meet your pet and you before actually hiring them for a pet-sitting job. Watch how they interacts with your pet–does your pet seem comfortable with the person? If the visit goes well, start by hiring the pet sitter to care for your pet during a short trip, maybe just an overnight excursion. That way, you can work out any problems before leaving your beloved pet in a pet sitter’s care for longer periods.
Something else to consider is having the pet sitter provide proof of their being bonded and insured. This provides further comfort regarding your decision because this “stranger” will have access to your home while you are away.