Pet Sitting Tips for a Happy Holiday

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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.

cocker spaniel sleeping on the couch

When I’m home with you, I’m so relaxed I just snoooooooooooze

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 Similar to for dogs, 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 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. “

torbie cat face

I’d rather not leave my lair…

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.

17 Responses

  1. You are very right that you can’t always take your pet with you on a trip. If that is the case, then you should see about getting a pet sitter. They would be able to take care of your cat or dog while you are away. Doing something like that I think would be better than a kennel since the dog will stay at the sitter’s house while you are gone.

  2. Pearl says:

    Student Co gives you the opportunity to meet different pet sitters at no extra cost…i would take my pet with because he has to decide who he feels conferable with, what’s awesome about a pet sitter is that they come to you so your dog won’t be out of its natural habitat if I can say that…you can easily give your pet sitter your dog’s daily routine and request a picture or two per day to see if your dog is happy and healthy.

  3. Jody Lee says:

    Thank you for sharing information. Knowing what to try and do along with your dog sitting over the vacations could be a concern for plenty of individuals. i do know here in Indiana plenty of individuals elect dog and cat boarding homes which will watch out of their pets for some days whereas the homeowners area unit away. They could be an honest choice to look at.

  4. While all these tips are incredibly helpful for boarding your animal while on vacation, the last tip you mentioned about preparing in advance can be the most crucial. No matter how well you plan for your animal, if it’s not done early enough, problems may arise that could make it difficult for you and your animal. I like how you mentioned contacting kennels and pet sitters personally to determine if they are right or not. Animals can be very finnicky, so it’s important to find somewhere where they will be as comfortable as they can be while you’re away.

  5. CK says:

    Great post Jennifer, the only problem I’ve found with pet sitting is that it’s significantly more expensive than using pet boarding such as kennels. Maybe it’s just my area?

  6. Great post, Jennifer! Pet boarding can be a very stressful time for both pets and their owners. In Pasadena there are some great dog boarding facilities, I hope all pet owners can find someone they can trust :)

  7. Cat Care says:

    Great post! Been reading a lot about how to care for my cat while I travel. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here!

  8. I’m blessed with a few house/petsitters that I am able to trust. Thank goodness, because I have too many older pets that have never been boarded. They would probably freak!

  9. Amber says:

    It’s so hard to leave your animals behind when you’re out of town, but it’s so important to find a good kennel to care for your dogs or cats while you’re gone! Never leave your animals with someone you don’t trust!

  10. Henry says:

    It’s important to get to know the pet sitter before hand. Make sure to visit the home where your dog will be staying.

  11. Jacob says:

    Good tips.When you have a dog, it is not easy to plan a travel with your friends or your family because you must think of how to care the dog when you are not at home. You should make some considerations before selecting dog boarding for your dog.

  12. Simi Valley Vet says:

    Informative, especially for new pet owners.

  13. Maria says:

    I agree with the comments above. This is really informative and helpful. Thanks for sharing and keep posting. This is really helpful for dog owners.

  14. Jenny says:

    Thanks for sharing. This is really informative about dog boarding. Keep posting!

  15. AlanSmith says:

    I always find it difficult to carry my pet wherever I go as you know. Also it is not very convenient to take my pet to a boarding facility all the time. Hiring a pet sitter is the only other option. Finding professional pet sitters is a little cumbersome process. As you have mentioned, preparation in advance will help me to find a qualified pet sitter for my pet.

  16. Thank you for sharing, Jennifer. Knowing what to do with your pets over the holidays is a concern for a lot of people. I know here in Indiana a lot of people opt for dog and cat boarding homes that will take care of their pets for a few days while the owners are away. They might be a good option to look into.