There are many excellent options for caring for your four-legged companions when you leave town for a well-earned vacation. The key things to consider are your pet’s temperament, comfort with being away from home and any special needs your pet may have.
Caring for Cats
The best place for a cat to stay is in your home. If your pet is fairly self-reliant, and doesn’t require special monitoring or care, you can probably get by with having a neighbor or friend come by to feed and play with him or her. It is ideal if you can arrange for the caregiver to visit twice a day, but for more independent cats, once a day may be fine. It is never OK to leave a cat unattended for 24 hour or longer. Be sure to leave detailed instructions about food, water and any other care that is needed, as well as the name and phone number of your veterinarian.
If you cannot arrange for a friend or neighbor to take care of your cat, the next best option is to hire an in-home pet sitter. If your cat has special needs or must take medications, be sure you hire a professional pet sitter with experience giving medications. Be sure to choose one that is bonded and insured, check references and you may also consider finding a sitter that is accredited by one of two national organizations: the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International. Both organizations offer tips for selecting a pet sitter on their websites, as well as listings of local sitters. In addition, have the sitter visit your house before your trip so that you can see how he or she interacts with your pet.
Cats should only be boarded if they have a specific health need that requires monitoring by a veterinarian.
Caring for Dogs
As with cats, if your pet is fairly self-reliant, and doesn’t require special monitoring or care, you can probably get by with having a neighbor or friend come by to feed and walk or play with him or her, as long as this person can come at least twice a day, following your pet’s regular potty schedule. Be sure to leave detailed instructions about food, water and any other care that is needed, as well as the name and phone number of your veterinarian. Another option for dogs is to have the dog stay with a friend. Many dogs enjoy having a home environment and are not stressed by new places, as long as they know the people. Elderly pets and those with medical needs may require the services of a professional pet sitter.
When you are heading out of town for a longer trip, are worried about possible health problems or do not want to impose on friends or neighbors, one option is to check your pet into a boarding facility. While some animals experience stress being in an unfamiliar situation, this is a good choice for more easygoing or social animals. Your veterinarian can provide recommendations for boarding facilities in your area. The Humane Society has great resources for what to look for in a kennel and how to prepare your pet for a visit.
With a little preparation, you can enjoy your vacation, knowing that your furry companion(s) are being well cared-for.