Now that the holiday season is over and we are into the doldrums of winter, many people are looking for a quick getaway to somewhere warm and sunny. That getaway may not include your pet since some pets are not good travelers, like fish or your family cat. Dogs can be good travelers, but are not always welcome in hotels and timeshares. Leaving the family pet behind is a tough decision, but advance planning will give you peace of mind and your pet a comfortable vacation, too.
The most convenient option for many families is a boarding kennel. Check around before choosing a boarding kennel. Ask other pet owners and call your veterinarian’s office. The veterinarians at the Animal Medical Center (AMC) have their favorite home care specialist and your veterinarian will too.
Consider contacting the Better Business Bureau for information on prospective kennels. Kennels provide an important service, but not all pets enjoy staying in kennels. The typical family pet is used to more space, better furniture and solitude.
Before you chose a kennel for your pet, visit the kennel. Is it clean or is there a bad odor? Will the kennel give medications and feed the food your pet is accustomed to eating? Kenneled pets are prone to hunger strikes and intestinal upset and feeding their regular food is one way to help prevent this. In case your pet gets sick while boarding, ask how the kennel handles medical problems. If the kennel is associated with your pet’s regular veterinarian, the answer is easy, but if the kennel is not, be sure they know who your pet’s veterinarian is and how to contact the office in an emergency. Good idea to let your veterinarian know where and when your pet will be boarded. Finally, read the boarding agreement carefully, especially dropoff and pickup rules or you might find your bill higher than you expected.
Home care is also an option for some pets, especially cats, birds, fish or reptiles. My clients have arranged home care for their pets from a variety of sources. They will often check with their AMC veterinarian or neighborhood veterinarian for a local pet sitter. A professional, such as a veterinary technician may be just what the doctor orders for pets with a medical problem like diabetes. A healthy hamster may do well with your neighbor teenager changing the water, bedding and food once a day. Some pets need a companion as well as a caretaker. If this describes your pet, you may look for a pet sitter who will move into your house while you are away. This setup works especially well for multiple pet households. For a short trip, a healthy cat can be left alone. One clever solution to the litter box problem if you leave your cat alone is an automatic toilet flusher for toilet trained cats.
Whenever you leave your pet with a friend, pet sitter or kennel, provide the substitute caretaker with:
- Your travel schedule and contact information
- The veterinarian’s name, number and location
- A schedule of your pet’s daily routine
- Enough of your pet’s regular food, medications and supplies (litter, pooper scooper bags and chew toys) to last longer than your trip in case of a delayed return.