When you head out of town for a night or two, or the family is jetting off on holiday, there's the small matter of arranging for someone to look after your pets. There are a few options to choose from i.e. leave them with friends, use a boarding facility or have an in-home pet sitter. But the important thing in this situation is you want to be confident that your precious pooches or sassy kittens are being cared for in the best possible way.
The right decision will vary from person to person and from pet to pet. What's right for one may not be suitable for another. This post will discuss the options available to you and hopefully help you to make the right choice!
What is it?
Professional pet sitters will come to your home while you're away to provide care for your pets. This can either be in the form of overnight stays, several visits booked throughout the day or a combination of both.
Settled and happy pets
Animals can get very stressed and anxious when their owners go away. How do they know you will come back? Leaving them in the comfort and security of their own familiar environment minimises their stress greatly. This way, your pets are also sticking as close to their normal routine as possible, reassuring them that although they have a temporary new carer, there are no other drastic changes.
We are lucky to live in an incredibly safe town, but with a rapidly growing population it's a good habit not to take anything for granted. Somebody coming in and out of your home while you're away will deter any potential troublemakers. Things like emptying the letterbox, opening and closing the curtains and rotating which lights are on and off are all things that can help to make a home appear lived in, and a good pet sitter will be experienced in recognising when things aren't as they should be.
Sometimes the last thing you want to do when you have the car full of the family and their suitcases is to make a detour (or several) to drop pets off on your way to the airport. Having a pet sitter means you can just lock up and leave - safe in the knowledge that everything will be taken care of. Same goes for the way back! So you can come straight home after a long journey and relax.
Pet sitters may cost more than a boarding kennel, especially if you are away for a longer period of time. Additional drop-in visits may be needed for puppies which would also increase the price.
Stranger to your pets
If your dog or cat is weary or is of an aggressive nature, they may not react well to a pet sitter that they haven't spent time with beforehand. If you know your pet dislikes people and it would be a risk to leave them with someone that is not friends and family then perhaps a pet sitter isn't the right option.
What to look for?
If you're considering booking a pet sitter, look for a person or a business who is fully insured. This not only helps to keep your home protected, but also shows they take the job seriously and treat it professionally. Also look for experience. Anybody can come and put food in the cat's bowl, but do they know how to tell if a cat is unwell? Can they handle unexpected emergency situations? Do they realise that leaving a door open for even a second could result in the dog disappearing down the road? (You wouldn't believe the number of people who tell us their 'pet sitter' let the dogs go missing!).
What is it?
Boarding your pets means taking them to a facility, like a kennels or cattery, to be cared for while you're on holiday. There will be other dogs and cats at these places and your pet may be put in the a kennel alone, or in the same one as others.
Using a cattery or kennels is an inexpensive way of having your pets cared for when you go away. These places usually charge per day, and because they have a big facility with multiple pets there at once, they can usually charge for your pet's care at a cheaper rate than a pet sitter can.
By using a boarding place, you can be sure that whoever is looking after your pets know their way around animals. The staff will be doing this daily and so the pet care will be carried out professionally and it's very unlikely your dog or cat will go missing whilst staying at a kennels/cattery. The staff at a kennel or cattery will also be able to detect signs if your pet is unwell or unhappy.
Pet is susceptible to diseases and illnesses
Because of the many other animals being cared for in a kennel or cattery, it's possible for your dog or cat to come in contact with contagious diseases (such as kennel cough). The cramped conditions in some boarding facilities may also stress out your pet to the point that they show symptoms of illnesses such as vomiting and diarrhea.
No individual attention given to your pet
Boarding facilities look after many pets at a time which means your furry friend won't get any one-on-one attention. Extra play time or walks may be an option in some kennels, for an additional cost of course!
The boarding facilities have their own daily schedule to follow which means they will be unable to carry out your dog or cat's usual routine. Pets like it when they know what is happening, so this, on top of being in a foreign environment, may cause your pet to become be anxious during their stay.
This might only be a small inconvenience in some cases, depending on location, but boarding your pets means you will be responsible for dropping them off and picking them up. This wouldn't be ideal if you're in a hurry to get on the road, and on the way back you will need to collect your pets after a long car ride too.
What to look for?
It's a wise idea to check out the kennels or cattery before you decide on using them, to ensure your pet won't be uncomfortable during their stay, and of course, for your own peace of mind. Ask around about good boarding recommendations from friends, family, locals or pet professionals such as the veterinary, and be sure to have a look at the kennels/cattery's reviews.
Friends and Family
What is it?
Leaving your pets with friends and family can seem like the obvious choice when you first think about where your pet can stay whilst you are on holiday. Especially when you know a friend or a member of the family who loves pets or who has looked after your furry friend before.
Having someone familiar looking after your pets is great for the pet, they will feel settled around a person they've spent time with. And if the dog or cat has visited the friend's house previously, they will also feel happier staying there for a long period of time.
Assuming that you are close to your friend/family member, you will have 24/7 contact with them. Maybe don't hound them for updates and pictures all day every day that you're away, but it is easy picking up the phone and checking in on your pooch/kitty this way. You can be sure that your pets are getting on with their carer so you won't have to check in as much.
You may feel you "owe" someone
A favour from a family member is great because they will be doing something to help you out and you probably won't need to repay them; your gratitude, and their time with your lovely pets will be enough. However, if you leave your pet with a friend, or a neighbour, you might feel like you ought to repay them somehow.
Your friend might love animals, they might even have pets themselves but that doesn't mean they will cater to your pet's individual needs. In the case that the person you are trusting your pet with isn't familiar with the needs of dogs or cats, they might not think about things that professionals, or even just pet owners, will. For example, do they know how to make their house a bit more pet friendly? And if you have an active or bad-behaving pooch or kitty, then your friend might feel flustered a few days into your pet's stay.
What to look for?
If you are thinking of leaving your fur baby with family, friends or a neighbour then ensure they have some knowledge on the dog or cat beforehand. Let them know the ins and outs of what it is like taking care of your pet on a daily basis, they need to understand and accept it if your pet isn't an angel. It's a good idea to have a pet owner to look after your pet whilst you're away, and not a total newbie to caring for animals.
Don't let these different pet care options overwhelm you when deciding on what to do with your pet when you head on holiday. Of course, being cautious is a good idea when it comes to the care of your furry friend, but at least one of these options should suit you and your pet's needs.
Interested in the Pet Sitting option? Want more information on hiring a professional to care for you pets whilst you're away?
Wanaka Dog Walking & Pet Sitting are insured, pet first aid trained and experienced, having been an established local business for over 4 years. Our small team of staff all undergo an extensive training program developed by canine behaviourists and we provide a consistent level of quality care to all our customers. (Have a look at our reviews on our Facebook page - @wanakadogwalking). Visit wanakadogwalking.com for more info.
Pet Sitting might be a little more expensive than boarding, or having a friend look after your pet. But this option means your pets are getting one-on-one care and attention and if you have multiple pets there won't be much difference in cost. When it comes to the care of your beloved pets it’s much better to focus on the quality of care offered, rather than the cost. And, to ensure the pets are happy with the pet sitter, as part of our service we insist on a meet and greet before the pet sitting commences. This is so that we can all be confident that the dog, cat, bunny, horse or whatever we are looking after has a chance to get to know us whilst the owner is around, ensuring they will be less anxious when that person looks after them for the time you’re away!