It’s that time of year, when we go over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house for the holidays! However, sometimes those plans include long drives, airplanes and overnight stays. In some cases, it’s just not feasible to bring along your furry family member.
Your pet is very comfortable at home with you, but when you leave, he can become stressed and act out. Your pet is used to your routine, and anytime you leave, that routine is disrupted. There are a few options when traveling away from home for who can look after your pet when you are not at home. Which one you choose will depend on your budget, what type of animal you have, and what you feel is best for your pet.
If you are a dog owner, the most common route is still the local kennel, but that has been changing over time. Pet sitting services are cropping up all over, as well as dog sitter marketplaces like Rover.com. Similar to couchsurfing.com for dogs, Rover.com connects dog owners with other local dog owners who will take in your pet while you are gone. The rates vary and are set by the dog sitter.
In-home sitting services such as these have become popular. “At the kennel where I used to keep them, there were 20-30 employees. I didn’t know who was doing what with my pets,” says Sherman Oaks, Calif., resident Christian Kennedy of her two large breed dogs. “When they go to someone’s home, I feel better about leaving, and sometimes, I get picture texts while I’m away. They’re in a house with a backyard, so I feel like they are more comfortable, and not as worried about me being gone.” Services like Rover.com include additional perks, such as pet sitter (& dog) insurance, 24/7 on-call veterinarian service, and the ability to choose neighborhood dog sitters who are donating some of their profits to charities, like Found Animals.
Of course, if you have a cat, the options are a little different. While many kennels and vets have cat boarding services, that is not kitty’s favorite option. “Cats are territorial, and prefer to remain in the space they know,” says my cat (Kona’s) own pet sitter, Myra Telac. “It will be a lot less stressful on them if they can stay at home and have someone come to spend some time with them and care for them. “
It might also be a good idea to get some Comfort Zones to plug in a few days prior to your scheduled departure. This pheromone has been shown to reduce the anxiety that cats feel in stressful situations. Cats are independent but still used to having companionship and attention. Having someone to come by to feed her and talk to her will reduce her stress while you are away.
No matter which option you choose, be sure to prepare in advance. Ask for references from your potential pet sitter or kennel, and take the time to call them. “In this economy, everyone thinks they are qualified to be a pet sitter, so I spend a lot of time weeding through to find the good ones,” says dog parent Candace Stone, of Redondo Beach, CA.
Try and make your pet sitting arrangements as early as possible. As soon as you know your travel dates, make arrangements for your pet’s care and this will hopefully reduce stress on everyone involved so you can enjoy your holiday!
Have any other tips about leaving your animals with a pet-sitter? Leave a comment below.