While You’re Away: Pet Care Options for Dogs and Cats
Many people see spring break as a great opportunity to take a family vacation. But, what about your four-legged family members? Pets can’t always tag along, so you may have to plan for their care while you’re away. Here are several pet care options to consider before deciding which makes the most sense for your dog or cat.
A popular option for pet care services is boarding. According to the American Boarding Kennels Association (ABKA), kennels usually provide a private space for sleeping and an exercise area for playing. Depending on the layout, says the ABKA, some kennels offer free access to exercise runs throughout the day; some take the dog for exercise and potty breaks at certain times; and some offer all-day play with other dogs.
PetMD suggests picking a boarding kennel that has a Pet Care Services Association certification, which indicates the facility follows best practices for pet care. In addition to verifying certification, The Humane Society of the United States recommends getting references and inspecting the kennel, as well as having your pet microchipped before his stay.
When looking at boarding kennels for a dog, PetMD says you want to pick a place that allows the dog plenty of activity and socialization opportunities.
If your cat needs to be boarded, PetMD recommends choosing a kennel that keeps cats separate from each other. The website also says that cats should have a large area with a litter box, a hiding place and toys to help keep them comfortable.
Professional Pet Sitters
Animals that are older, shy or need familiar surroundings may do best having a professional in-home pet sitter come to them, according to The Humane Society of the United States. NBC News says in-home pet sitters can also help pick up mail, water plants and take out the trash while you’re away. Pet sitters typically visit your home daily (sometimes several times daily) to check on your dog or cat, and some pet sitters also stay overnight.
CNN says you can find professional pet sitters using sites like Pet Sitters International or the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. CNN recommends doing in-home interviews with prospective candidates to see how they interact with your pet. This also gives them a chance to get familiar with your house and where pet supplies are located.
Pet Sitters International provides a handy PDF full of tips for conducting a professional pet sitter interview, including checking references and asking to see proof that the sitter is bonded and insured.
In-Home Pet Boarding
Pet Sitters International In-home pet boarding can be more affordable than a kennel while still giving you the option of more personalized attention for your pet, according to PetMD. With in-home boarding, you can leave your dog at the home of a qualified sitter (qualifications vary according to the service you select). In this environment, PetMD says your pet can stick to a more familiar routine and socialize with other furry friends in the house.
The Huffington Post recommends asking your vet for in-home boarding referrals and then personally checking out the person and their home beforehand. PetMD suggests looking for an in-home boarder that has good reviews and a clean and safe home large enough to accommodate your pet.
Family or Friends
Having your family or friends check on or stay with your pet may be the least expensive and most comfortable option for care. PetMD suggests asking someone you and your pet know to stop by your house a few times a day to feed and play with your dog or make sure the cat has enough food. You could also have a responsible friend or family member stay at your home while you’re away to give your dog a greater feeling of security.
Whether you decide to board, hire a sitter or ask a family member to watch your pet, don’t forget about your furry best friend this spring break. One of these options is sure suit you and your four-legged family member.