Our vets at West Chester Veterinary Medical Center understand that leaving your dog or cat behind when you're traveling can be stressful, especially if your pet has medical needs. Today we compare pet sitting and boarding options for when you need to be away from home.
Leaving Your Pet When You Travel
Whether you are heading out on vacation for a couple of weeks, or off on a business trip for a couple of days, you will need to find appropriate care for your dog or cat. Our vets know that deciding which kind of care is best for you and your pet can be challenging, but doing a little research into the options available near you, and what features each service offers, can help to make your decision easier.
Boarding Your Cat or Dog
While pet boarding facilities may once have been grim, dingy places where animals stayed locked in their cages for long periods of time, times have changed! These days your dog can have fun socializing and playing while you're away, and your cat can have a relaxing vacation in a clean, fresh-smelling facility complete with plenty of love and attention.
Today's animal boarding facilities range from pet spas and doggie summer-camps to medical boarding for pets that require extra attention, with price points that range from extravagant to affordable.
If you are in the process of deciding which boarding facility to take your pet to, be sure to check out a few different places in your area to find a facility that suits the needs of your pet.
Price is often a good indicator of the level of service provided at a given boarding facility. If your dog or cat will be treated to luxurious hotel-like spaces with comfy sofas to lounge on and tv to watch, you're going to pay more than you would to board your pet at a standard facility with roomy crates and fenced dog runs.
If you want your feline friend to be pampered while they are away from home, some specialized cat boarding facilities offer cat gyms filled with plenty of cat-friendly toys, platforms to jump up onto, and posts to scratch.
Want to treat your pooch to an active adventure? Your canine companion could be treated a fun camp experience while you're away. Dog camps across the country offer loads of time for your pup to explore outdoors, as well as added facilities for swimming and playing with other dogs.
That said, extravagant facility features don't necessarily add up to better care for your pet.
Choosing The Level of Service That's Right for Your Pet
The level of service you choose for your pet will also be reflected in the price.
Standard care for dogs at most pet boarding facilities includes:
- A clean, roomy kennel for your pup to sleep in
- Exercise time outdoors before breakfast so your dog can stretch their legs
- Breakfast served in the kennel
- Out of kennel playtime in the middle of the day to allow your pooch to burn some energy
- Dinner served in the kennel
- Evening bathroom break
Standard care for cats at most pet boarding facility includes:
- Clean private crate with plenty of room to move and space for the litter box
- Frequent visits by staff to ensure that litter box is clean and that your cat has a good supply of food and water
- Clean bedding so your kitty can relax comfortably and watch the world go by
Other services commonly available at pet boarding facilities:If you are looking for something a bit more special than a standard boarding facility, many facilities also offer the following services:
- Specialized veterinary care
- Shuttle services to and from the facility
The Pros & Cons of Pet Boarding
- Pros: Pet boarding provides your pet with a standardized daily routine that includes meal times and exercise times on a regular schedule. Boarding also gives pets an opportunity to socialize with other animals. If your dog or cat has a medical issue that requires medications or treatments, facilities with onsite vets and a team of veterinary professionals may be right for your pet while you're away.
- Cons: Being away from home can be hard for some animals. Pets can become nervous or anxious in new environments which could lead to altercations with other animals at playtime. Pets in boarding facilities also face an increased risk of contracting contagious illnesses such as kennel cough in dogs or Feline Upper Respiratory Infection (colds) in cats.
Hiring a Pet Sitter
When interviewing for a pet sitter be sure to request a list of references as well as a list qualifications. How much you will pay for a pet sitter will depend upon the level of service you choose for your dog or cat.
Pet sitters can help to protect your home by keeping your place looking lived-in to any passers-by. Pet sitters will typically collect your mail and papers and switch lights on and off, making your home look more lively. Hiring a live-in pet sitter will allow you to rest assured that someone is caring for your home at night.
Level of Service Provided by Pet Sitters
Generally speaking there are two categories of pet sitters; those who visit your house twice a day to feed your pet and allow your pet to get outside for bathroom breaks, and those who stay in your home full-time while you are away.
Other services commonly available from pet sitters:If your dog or cat requires more care than just feeding and being let out a few times a day, some pet sitters offer additional services such as:
The Pros & Cons of Hiring a Pet Sitter
- Pros: The primary benefit of hiring a pet sitter is that your pet may find it less stressful to stay at home. Other benefits of hiring a pet sitter include the increased security of having someone in your home, and pet sitters can be less expensive than some boarding facilities.
- Cons: Bringing a stranger into your home to care for your fur baby can be uncomfortable, and certainly isn't for everyone. Hiring a pet sitter part-time may be problematic if your pet gets lonely, boredom can lead to destructive behaviors in some dogs and cats. You may also find that pet sitters book up very quickly and may not be available when you need them, particularly at peak holiday times such as March break.
The Choice is Yours
Choosing the best pet care service for your animals while you travel will ultimately come down to personal preference, price and availability in your neighborhood. With a little research into the services available in your area, you will be able to find just the right level of care for your fur baby, at a price you can afford.