When You Can't Take 'Em With You
Pets on a vacation are a great thing, but not always doable. Some resorts have NO PETS policies, and there's always that extended business junket where you're spending most of your time associating with co-workers and playing out-of-the-office-politics. And when that happens, you have to "make arrangements". This is bad news to your furkids.
But it doesn't have to be BAD BAD NEWS. There are options.
Most people still opt to board their pets, but a growing number are choosing to hire a professional pet sitter. Which option is best really depends on your situation and the special needs of your pets.
Yes, you can always drop your pets off at your local vet. Most vet clinics have boarding facilities, and some of them are quite superb. One advantage to boarding at your regular vet clinic is that they already know your pet and have its health information on hand. Ask to check out their facility. In most cases you will have the choice between having your dog caged or put in a "run" (for larger dogs, or groups), and many also have cat "condos" available. Be sure to check out their outdoor area and find out how many times your pet will get to go play. Los Robles even offers nighttime walks for clients that want special attention for their pets.
There are a few disadvantages to this type of boarding:
- A vet kennel will perform feedings, bathroom breaks, and walks according to their schedule, not your pet's. Boarding is generally a secondary concern to a facility that may also have frequent emergencies, surgeries, and health inspections performing throughout the day. Since there’s so many animals in one place, the staff can’t give each pet special attention. Extra playtime or walk sessions must be purchased in addition to boarding fees.
- Kennels often harbor contagious diseases, such as distemper and kennel cough. Viruses and parasites can travel easily between cages or in communal yards. Puppies and kittens, especially, can be at high risk since their immune systems are still developing.
If either of these might be an issue for your pet, you might still consider boarding at a pet daycare or resort. Most of these are dedicated boarding facilities, and their accomodations range from comfy to downright luxurious!
Still, there might be reasons you don't want to board. Maybe your pet isn't comfortable around other animals. They might have special medical needs that require personal attention. Or you might even have a whole menagerie, and transporting them to a facility is not only cumbersome but financially prohibitive (most kennels charge by the pet, so costs can rack up fast). In those cases, hiring a pet sitter might be your best option.
Finding a reliable professional petsitter for your four-legged family is an option for those who cannot--or don't want to--board. When you hire a pet sitter, they come to your home 2 or 3 times a day (or sometimes overnight) and take care of your pet's food & water needs, takes them for a walk or lets them outside, and provides needed social and play time while you can't. This is especially important for puppies / kittens, who rely on a regular routine in that early stage of their lives. Best of all, your pet gets to stay in their familiar environment, which is especially comforting to those pets who undergo stress around unfamiliar people and places.
Pet sitters can also bring in mail, water plants, and turn lights on/off to deter burglars while you’re away. In effect, you're hiring a house-sitter who puts special emphasis on your pets. And of course, you avoid all the negative issues listed in the Boarding section above: no kennel cough, personal attention. And, while most pet sitters charge for extra pets, it's usually more reasonable than the per-pet charge you'll have at a boarding facility.
In some cases, simply asking "the kid next door" or your Aunt Mary to do the job will suffice. After all, if you have a couple of dachshunds who free-feed, use a doggie door to go outside to eliminate, and don't mind spending a few nights by themselves, it might be a perfectly reasonable option. It will certainly cost less. But before you jump to that conclusion consider a couple of other factors.
- Pet sitters are specially trained to handle any health emergencies that may occur. Most are trained to handle pets with special diet or medical needs.
- Almost all pet sitters are insured or bonded, which protects you financially from any mishaps that happen in your absence.
So, as I said before, it's a judgment call. It all depends on your resources and your pet's unique needs. If you feel like boarding is the best option, check out the various facilities and make an informed choice. Or if pet sitting is more to your liking, give one a call and set up an appointment. I happen to know a pretty good one.