Next month we are heading off for a vacation without taking our pets with us. It’s been over a decade since we’ve left the household for more than a long weekend! There are so many preparations to be done so I thought I’d take a minute and share some ideas with you about preparing to leave your pets and to ask for any tips you may have as well.
First of course is the decision kennel vs pet sitter. This is always an easy choice for us having chickens, rabbits and outdoor kitties, we really do need someone available to come to our home. Personally I have always been more of a fan of having someone stay in our home as we do seem to always have older or immune compromised pets when the need for pet care rolls around, and at Ricky’s age a kennel is not the best environment. Boarding kennels certainly do have many advantages if you just have one or two pets to find care for so I am not knocking them by any means.
There are pros and cons to both options so in the end you have to make the choice that makes the best sense to your situation. Things to consider; a young active dog may not do well-being left for long periods of time and may become destructive or perhaps even escape your home or yard in your absence and while boarding kennels are no guarantee from escape they are certainly in general a bit more secure. Young puppies and older dogs maybe stressed by the unfamiliar kennel environment which with the higher numbers of dogs together may put them at a greater risk for illness.
Once you have made your choice, how do you go about finding the right kennel or pet sitter? My first resource is always asking my Veterinarian and other local pet care professionals; groomers, trainers, as well as other dog owners for recommendations. There are professional organizations and listing sites you can use to get some names and numbers, but it is always good to see if you can get some insider recommendations as well. Sometimes you maybe surprised to learn some of these dog folks you already know offer sitting or boarding services.
For many, once they have completed the step of choosing their sitter or kennel all of their pet care planning is complete, but at that step I have only just begun! I provide an instruction sheet for each pet, that lists their feeding routine, medications & supplements, any allergies, the commands they know, favorite toys or types of play, things or situations I know which may cause my pet stress or may present a challenge for the pet care provider, such as fear of fireworks, thunderstorms, etc.
I check to make sure all my contact information is up to date with the microchip registry, that their ID tags are current and the little ring holding them on is in good condition (you’d be surprised how many dogs I’ve cared for that arrive with tags barely hanging on). I contact my Veterinarian to see if they need any special forms filled out to allow my pet care provider to authorize treatment on my behalf, do they require a credit card or some other form of advance payment? Having an older pet, I discuss with my Veterinarian and pet care provider what my wishes are should the unthinkable occur while I am gone and difficult decisions need to be made.
It is never fun to think about, but what if we were to be injured or worse, not ever make it home? I discuss these arrangements with those I choose to be my pets guardian should anything happen to me, and am sure those caring for my pets know how to reach these guardians should an accident occur.
I make sure I have provided the proper amount of food for my pets for their stay or the resources for my pet care provider to obtain more so they can stay on the food they are accustomed to. I take the care to have all their medications and prescriptions filled with easy to understand instructions. If they going to stay with their pet care provider I see if they are able to have their own beds & toys and choose those I will not be worried about being destroyed and are safe for them to be left unattended with. If the pet care provider is coming here I prepare things to entertain and provide my pet with supervised enrichment, like interactive food toys, stuffed kongs loaded and in the freezer for easy use.