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Pet Sitter or Boarding Kennel? Which One is Right for Your Pet?

Dog Boarding

We’re coming into that time of year when people start making their holiday travel plans. Whether it’s that eight-hour drive to spend Easter at Grandma’s house, or the flight planned in order to spend it back home with your parents, or just a camping trip with the family, you’ll also need to make arrangements for your beloved pets.

Things can go wrong in a house with an animal left alone – whether it’s a major medical emergency, fire, flood, electrical failure or just a minor medical problem, you wouldn’t want your pet suffering because no one checked on him/her during your weekend spent out of town. Additionally, it can be very stressful for your furry friend to find themselves completely alone in a quiet home when they have been used to you returning each day at a certain hour and also being in the routine of interacting with you several times a day. If you work from home or if there are multiple family members in the household then to have the house suddenly become empty and quiet can cause lots of confusion and anxiety.

Boarding Kennels

There are good ones, great ones and terrible ones. If you choose to place your pet in a boarding kennel, go there yourself and take a tour. For a dog or cat, being placed in a cage, surrounded by unfamiliar animals, sounds, smells and sights, can cause the stress-o-meter to go over the top. Keep in mind how sensitive your pet’s senses are and inspect the kennel from your pets point of view.

  • How does it smell?
  • How loud is the environment?
  • Are cages facing each other? This can be very stressful.
  • Is the cage/condo big enough so that the food bowl isn’t right next to the litter box?What type of staff interaction is there?
  • Do the animals get played with, petted and held?
  • What is done to help reduce anxiety and fear?
  • Is there a veterinarian on-call for emergencies?
  • How is the facility monitored at night?

The Comforts of Home

Hiring a pet sitter to care for your pet is a great way for you to have the security of knowing your cat/dog/bird/fish remains the most comfortable in their own surroundings. It’s bad enough that their family has run off and disappeared without warning but at least she/he hasn’t lost their territory. Just having that security can make a big difference in whether your pet freaks out during your absence or whether they take it in their stride with minimal stress. For some pets, being placed in a boarding kennel, no matter how well run, is terrifying.

You have to do your homework when planning to have someone come in to care for your pet. Don’t just ask the kid next door to drop in every day to toss food in the bowl, you need someone who will make sure your four-legged friend is safe,  has a clean litter box, is well fed, interacts with your dog/cat/other furry friend (if the they enjoy this) and try to minimize the stress of your absence.

A pet sitter who takes the time to play with your pet or interact in whatever way that particular animal enjoys, can make a big difference in keeping your pets stress-o-meter at a manageable level. The pet caretaker who bolts in the door and is back out in mere minutes isn’t going to notice that your cat/dog maybe hasn’t urinated all day or that she/he has pulled a patch of hair off their hind leg, is limping or maybe scratched her eye and is squinting in pain. The “drive-by” pet caretaker isn’t much better than you filling up the food and water bowl and taking your chances that nothing bad will happen to your furr-baby.

Hire a pet sitter who cares deeply for the welfare of every client.

How Often Should the Pet Sitter Visit?

Ok, so by now you know that my preferred method of caring for a pet while the family is away is by hiring a top-notch pet sitter.  This is where Paws ‘n’ Play Pet Care Services would love to help!

Now we come to another question though – how many visits per day are needed? Many people think a single visit to the home is adequate but really, you need at least two visits daily. If your pet is used to scheduled meals, you need to have the pet sitter come at those times to maintain the normal schedule. It can be very stressful for a pet who is used to eating two or three times a day to now have to deal with just one meal on top of the fact that her entire family has up and gone. It’s also not healthy for her digestion to gulp down in one meal what she normally would eat over multiple meals.It’s also important that what’s happening in the litter is monitored (for cats). If there’s any diarrhea, constipation, bloody urine or lack of any evidence of litter box activity whatsoever, it’s better that it’s noticed right away. The twice-daily pet sitter visit will also help ensure good litter box hygiene.

More than one visit per day also provides activity for your pet which can make a big difference in maintaining minimal stress levels. A visit in the morning to open curtains and do a little playtime in addition to the normal feeding and litter box cleaning and then an evening visit to turn lights on, close curtains and spend some petting or playtime can set them up for a nice night. Just having some normal household sounds can provide a sense of security. For example: the television or radio on during one of the visits or hearing the sound of a person’s voice.

Last, but not least, is the fact that if there is any medical issue with your pet, wouldn’t you rather that it not take 24 hours before it got noticed? When planning for your pet’s care during your vacation or holiday travel, the extra precautions you take to minimize stress and help ensure safety and security can make all the difference in whether this is a positive or negative experience… for everyone.

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