The holidays afford unique opportunities to spend time with friends and family you may not see often during the year. However, for pet owners, it is always challenging to determine how best to care for our furry family members while we travel for vacation. We find ourselves scrambling at the last minute to make less-than-ideal arrangements for our pets.
With holiday travel approaching, we want to help pet owners think through what to do with pets while on vacation. In this article, we will discuss six things for pet owners to consider when leaving their homes for holiday vacation.
1) Consider Your Pet Housing Options
Generally, when you travel for holiday vacations, there are five options for your pets:
- Take Your Pets with You: Some pets will do well to travel with you. Your pets may even thrive when they meet new family members and other pets.
- Take Your Pets to a Kennel: A kennel, pet boarding school, or spa gives a social pet the opportunity to make friends and pass the time well while you are away.
- In-Home Boarding Options: Some homeowners board pets on their properties. Good in-home boarding providers will separate pets by species and breed to ensure the best experience for all animals.
- Provide Your Pets a Sitter: Pet sitters will come to your home to feed and walk your pets. You can find a good sitter online, check with your veternarian, or ask a trusted neighbor.
- Hire a House Sitter: For pets who are not accustomed to being alone, it can be helpful to hire someone to stay in your home while you are away.
There are pros and cons to each option. Your finances, the temperament of your pets, and the availability of sitters and boarding programs will factor into your decision.
2) Consider the Differences Between Cats and Dogs
We know there are a myriad of pets besides cats and dogs; however, many of these principles can be applied to reptiles, rodents, and other animal friends. Many pet owners would assume that the ideal solution would be to bring pets along for the vacation; however, every species, breed, and animal is different.
“Cats are also rooted in the constancies of everyday life,” writes Sarah Hodgson, author and professional dog trainer,
“Like butterflies and bees, cats have a homing instinct and can become distressed and restless if relocated. Left free to roam in an unfamiliar location, most cats will try to escape and return to their home.”
On the other hand, some dogs care a lot more about you than their surroundings. They love to travel with you! However, territorial breeds are going to be a lot more comfortable at home. We recommend researching breeds and personality types before making a decision.
3) Consider Your Vacation Destination
If you are considering bringing your pets along, here are a few questions to ask yourself regarding the destination:
- Can your visitors accommodate your pets?
- Do your hosts share the same pet-values as you?
- Do your hosts have other pets? Will they all get along?
- Do they have small children? Are your pets acclimated to other animals and small children?
- How do your pets travel? How do your pets behave in unfamiliar situations?
Though traveling with your pets may seem like the best solution, it is important to consider these questions before committing to bring your animal friends on holiday.
4) Consider the Kennel’s Reputation
Before settling on a kennel or in-home boarding program, investigate its reputation. A trustworthy kennel or boarding program can be a great experience for your cats, dogs, or more exotic pets. Read Google reviews, ask your friends, and check with your local veterinarian for recommendations on the best boarding options.
5) Consider Pet-Safety in Your Home
If you are leaving your pets home and hiring a sitter, make sure your home is safe for your animals. You can read more about pet safety during the holidays here, but in general, it is important to think about what your pets might get into in your absence.
6) Consider Fair Pay for Your Pet Sitter
Pet-sitter compensation may range from $35 to $75 per day, depending on their responsibilities. Factors to consider include:
- Number of times they will visit per day
- Number of animals for which they will care
- Letting out in the yard vs. walking through the neighborhood
- Difficulty of feeding, medical care, etc.
Remember, you get what you pay for. If you have a trusted neighbor, you may also offer to trade pet-sitting responsibilities to offset costs.
We recommend thinking through these options before crunch time, so you can make the best decision for you and your pets. For more information, please contact us.