Whether you’re going away for a business trip or you’ve finally decided to take the family on a dream vacation, deciding what to do with your pet isn’t an easy choice. After all, you can’t just leave them at home on their own for the entire duration of your trip. For most people, that offers two choices for your pets; pet sitting or pet boarding.
Pet sitting services allow your pet to stay at home while you’re away while still having their needs cared for. The type of pet sitting available can vary greatly, with some services offering a few hours with your pet a day (for example, to feed them, change the litter box, let them out, or throw the ball in the backyard) to a house sitter that will stay in your home the entire time. Most sitting services will require a single visit for cats or other caged animals daily, while a dog will need a more frequent interaction (to be let outside to use the bathroom). Overall, these visits can add up to more than the cost of pet boarding, especially if you’re looking to pay someone to stay in your home for the entire duration.
An owner with multiple pets may find at-home services to make more sense from a travel and cost perspective. Many companies will offer discounted rates for multiple animals, making it easier on the wallet long-term. It’s also easier on any indoor pet (particularly cats) who may find the travel stressful. Pets that suffer from anxiety, aggression, or become easily stressed in new environments can also find a pet sitting easier overall (although there is still some anxiety with new people entering the home).
Pet boarding involves a pet owner bringing their animal to an offsite facility during their absence. Typically speaking, individuals will use a website like PetHotels.com to find a company that matches their pet’s needs, based on service offerings, location, and reviews. When you’ve chosen a place, you’ll bring your dog (or cat) to the center and pick them up on your return home. Most pet hotels offer private rooms or kennels, socialization with other dogs, individual activities, or special offers like grooming during their stay. The type of amenities available to your dog can vary greatly depending on the company. Some offer private rooms, televisions, cots, or organic treats every evening. Standard kennels, however, are more likely to have shared accommodation with steel bars separating the kennels.
Social animals that love interacting with other pets or people will find these centers quite stimulating. The opportunity for extensive activity throughout the day can prevent boredom or isolation but may cause anxiety in some pets that prefer quiet environments. All facilities will require your pet to be current on their vaccines, altered (spayed or neutered), and friendly with other people and animals. If your dog already attends a daycare program, it will likely adapt well to a boarding facility. As the price for boarding can be cheaper than in-home care, it’s an economical way for your pet to stay safe and happy while you’re away.
Although cost should be a consideration when choosing your pet’s care, it’s essential to evaluate your fur baby’s personality too. Shy, timid, or anxious pets may struggle with a large, loud group environment. On the other hand, working breeds that require daily socialization and exercise may become destructive if left isolated at home while you’re away. Understand what your dog needs mentally, physically, and emotionally during your vacation or trip before booking any services. If you’re not sure how your dog would respond to a boarding center, consider having a trial overnight stay. Ask the staff to report any bizarre or unusual behaviors while on-site; pacing, drooling, depression, or aggression can indicate an overwhelmed pup.
If you opt to board your pet, always make sure to tour the facility where your dog or cat will be staying. Ask the company about the daily schedule, meals walks, or protocols for injuries. You want to feel comfortable with the location before leaving your pet there; otherwise, your pet will pick up on the anxiety and may react badly to the transition. Inquire about any webcam services, updates, or reporting that the company provides for overnight guests. Some companies have a live stream you can watch throughout their stay.