Boarding Your Pet vs. Hiring a Pet Sitter

Boarding Your Pet vs. Hiring a Pet Sitter
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As the holiday travel season approaches, your family’s plans are likely beginning to come together. For many, a vacation away from home may be in the cards as invites roll in from out-of-town relatives. In the coming weeks, you’ll be arranging transportation, time off from work, last-minute home duties — and if your furry friends won’t be coming along for the ride, you’ll also need to secure pet care. In this case, the two primary options for pet owners to consider are checking your pets into a boarding facility or enlisting the help of a local pet sitter.

Weighing Your Options

The best option usually varies depending on your own needs and preferences and each individual pet’s unique tendencies. For instance, pets who are shy or who require peace and quiet may not thrive in a boarding environment surrounded with other barking or meowing animals. While many boarding facilities separate pets into their own private kennels for the majority of their stay, some solo pets with social tendencies may prefer the proximity of other animals, as well as the potential opportunity to interact during walking periods or playtime.

On the other hand, as with any pet care service, boarding facility quality can be extremely hit or miss. Pet owners considering boarding may want to do some initial scouting before settling on a facility. Read online reviews, and if possible, schedule a location visit to ensure there are no issues with cleanliness or less-than-ideal conditions. One important rule of thumb is to avoid boarding pets who have not yet been vaccinated (puppies, kittens, etc.) or are in poor health, as close quarters with other unfamiliar animals can spell susceptibility to potential illnesses or diseases.

Pets who are territorial or who value their personal space may feel more comfortable remaining in their own homes. In this case, consider hiring a trusted in-home sitter. A professional sitter can cater to your pet’s usual routine (and can even provide extra attention, walks, and playtime to distract them from missing you!). Best of all, an in-home sitter does double duty as a pet and house sitter. Regular home check-ins can also confirm your home’s security, offering you additional peace of mind and the freedom to fully enjoy your vacation.

In the event that you do decide to travel with your pet, here are a few tips to consider in order to keep your travel buddy as safe and comfortable as possible (and minimize your own stress!):

  • Avoid flying with pets unless they are small enough to fit in the cabin with you.
  • If flying with a pet, make sure you have an air travel-approved carrier.
  • Consult with your vet about the best method for mitigating any anxiety.
  • Regardless of your mode of transportation, pack a pet travel kit. Refer to ASPCA’s recommendations when gathering its contents, and consult the full list for additional travel safety tips.
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