• From Kennels to In Home Pet Care

  • With the spring traveling season approaching, it is time to start thinking of who is going to care for your pet(s) while you travel. There are advantages to choosing each option as well as downfalls. The most important step you should take is to research the company or individual with whom you are entrusting your pets care to. Below are a few things to think about before finding the right option for you and your pet(s). With all options, planning in advance is always recommended as reservations can fill up quickly, especially during peak travel times.


    Professional Pet Sitter
    It is estimated that Professional Pet Sitters serve over a million clients a year (as of 2006). While this option didn’t become readily available until the early 1980’s, it is now a thriving and evolving business.

    Professional Pet Sitters do more than just feed and water your pets. They provide exercise and mental stimulation and are well versed to know when a pet is in need of medical care. Many professionals are trained in first aid and CPR as well as have hands on knowledge of animal behavior. Many sitters will have areas of expertise such as caring for aquatic animals or reptiles that are not easily boarded. Hiring a professional allows your pet(s) to stay in their own familiar environment and significantly lowers the risk of any communicable illnesses.

    Professional Pet Sitters not only offer services while you travel but also offer options such as daily walking services, transportation to vets or groomers and in some cases, training and housebreaking services. In addition, many sitters offer other household services such as mail retrieval, light and blinds rotation and taking trash to the curb to give your home that lived in look while you are away.

    What should you look for in a Professional Pet Sitter?

    • Are they insured and if they have employees, are they bonded?
    • Are they trained in first aid or CPR?
    • Are they a member of any professional associations such as Pet Sitters International, National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Professional United Pet Sitters?
    • Are they associated with a local vet to provide emergency services?
    • Is there a back up sitter in case of emergency and how are they trained?
    • Can the sitter be easily reached in case plans change during travel?
    • Does the sitter offer a consultation before travel to meet with your pet(s)?
    • Do they appear comfortable around your pet(s) and does your pet seem comfortable in their presence?
    • Do they ask questions about your pets likes and dislikes and medical history?

    Kennels and Boarding Facilities:
    Boarding kennels have long been the most popular and frequently used option when it comes to pet care while you travel. From vet’s offices who offer in house boarding to the luxury pet resort that offers all the extras, there is a vast array to choose from.

    While boarding can be a wonderful option for many dogs, others experience stress in a noisy atmosphere where the smells and sights are far different than their own home. Other animals such as cats and pocket pets do not tolerate the stress of a new environment well. Also, be aware that some viruses are easily passed among the general population when animals are kept in close quarters or allowed to play with other infected animals. Be sure to ask what their age requirements are as many kennels will not allow dogs less than 14 weeks of age.

    What should you look for in a boarding facility?

    • Cleanliness- does the facility look and smell clean? Is the intake area organized and free of messes?
    • Are they a member of The Pet Care Services Association (formerly the American Boarding Kennel Association)?
    • How are the pets housed? Do they have enough space or get frequent enough potty breaks/exercise breaks? Are the animals taken outside for breaks or is there a room that is used instead?
    • Safety- Are kennel areas free of harmful chemicals or objects that could cause injury?
    • Is the staff trained for emergencies such as injury or illness? Do they have a vet that is on call in case of those emergencies?
    • Supervision- how are the animals supervised? Are they monitored on a regular basis?
    • Immunization Requirements- Dogs should be immunized against bordetella, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus (DHLPP) as well as rabies.

    Friend, Neighbor or Kid Next Door

    Another popular option is having a friend, neighbor or kid-next-door check in on your pet(s). Relying upon a neighbor watch your pet(s) is what most families did before boarding became popular and travel was not as frequent as it is today. This can be a good option as it usually includes minimal cost and the animals are usually already familiar with the person checking in on them.
    While this may seem to be the best option for many owners, there are some issues to be aware of.

    • Person checking in may not be trained in first aid or CPR
    • Neighborhood kids can be forgetful and miss a visit or leave a door open
    • Imposing upon a friend who doesn’t feel comfortable saying NO
    • Not bonded or insured in case of accident

    Any of these choices can be the right one for your pet. It is up to you as the pet owner to do your research and decide which option to choose that best fits your family.