Pet Sitting And Boarding: Don’t Forget Dogs Need Vacation Too

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Dog VacationWhen you make plans to go on vacation, there are only three options for your furry friend:

  1. Take him with you
  2. Board him in a local kennel or doggy day camp
  3. Hire an in-home pet sitter or dog walker

Why Pet Sitting & Boarding Might Be Better Than Bringing Them With You

If you travel a lot, you have probably run across several situations where you stayed at hotels that did not allow you to have pets (all though more and more are allowing it every day!). You have probably also been on trips where you were so busy that you would feel guilty even having your pet with you. You would never be around to walk him or give him the love and attention that he deserves. In situations like these, the best thing to do is to look into pet sitting and boarding.

Read our review of Pet Sitting Websites

Pet Boarding

When boarding, you might want to make sure that your pet has the type of food that he is most used to so that he will not get sick from the food at the establishment. Additionally, many places require that your pet is up to date on his vaccinations like rabies and bordetella, so that he will not infect other animals.

If you are planning to board your pet for a holiday vacation or business trip that you know about well in advance, then you should probably start planning this out right now. Holidays when many people travel (think Thanksgiving and Christmas!) are especially important to plan ahead for and book your dogs spots. Though it can seem like a last minute thing – just call the place two weeks ahead of time, reserve a space and drop him off – but there is much more to boarding your pet, and it should be your goal to avoid last minute hassles and problems.

Visit The Vet To Prepare

As soon as you decide to board, take your pet to the doctor and get veterinary clearance and any vaccines that he needs. Ten days before his stay is the absolute latest that you should wait to do this.

Because your animal might have a reaction to the vaccine by getting slightly ill, you want to make sure that he goes through these changes at home and with his normal vet. If this reaction happens at the boarding facility, the staff will think he is truly sick unless you are lucky enough to board your dog at your vet’s office.

Make sure to bring a clean fecal report and proof of vaccinations when you check in as well.

Some boarding facilities will not require vet clearance, but it is a good idea to do this anyway, just in case there is some health concern that will cause boarding to be an unhealthy or unhappy experience for your pet. Clearance is especially vital if your animal is very sick or very old. He might not be able to handle a long overnight stay.

Make sure to triple check that he has enough medicine to last him for the entire trip. If you can get some extra, then do so to account for staff making a mistake and spilling a few doses. Sometimes another dog might get hold of the medicine that your dog needs, so if you can get extra, it might help the staff in a pinch.

Make sure that your furry friend also has a flea treatment right before checking into the facility. This should be something that you are doing every month anyway though.

Vital Details To Share About Your Pet

Any facility that you decide to patronize should answer any questions you have clearly and respectfully. In order to provide your animal with the best care, the facility needs to know:

  • All of your contact information
  • Who a local emergency contact would be for your family
  • Whether your dog has any special needs (aggression, medication, anxiety, etc.)
  • Your vet’s contact information
  • Any allergy information

If your animal has never stayed at a boarding facility before, it might be a good idea to have him stay for several half days, so that he can get used to the people and the environment. This will make the transition less stressful for him, and he will know in his heart that you will be back to get him soon. This should reduce your pet’s anxiety levels.

Pet Sitting In Your Home

Hiring a pet sitter is a great option because your animal can stay in the home that he loves, and receive care, attention, food and exercise from someone that seems like a friend of the family.

When you are hiring a pet sitter, make sure you can trust that person in your home and with your pet. You can choose to go with a service or hire an individual. In either case, you should be able to check references and feel confident about the person that you are hiring. A friend who is also a dog lover may also be a good option to consider.

Choosing A Pet Sitting Service

Sometimes pet sitting services can be better options. They may be easier to deal with because they take all of the legwork out of finding someone that you can trust. They run background checks for you and gather all of the worker’s references together for you.

Their workers have received training with a certain code of conduct so that you know what you can expect. Anyone that comes to your home would be experienced, professional and qualified to care for your animal, and that person will respect your home and possessions. The services should also be licensed, bonded and insured to protect against any risks associated with someone other than you being in your home.

Read our review of Pet Sitting Websites

It is much easier to hire a pet sitter than to board your dog in many cases because you do not have to worry about all of the pre-planning. In many cases, you can call a pet sitter or sitting service at the last minute and get top-notch care for as long as you need. It might be a little more expensive to hire a sitter though, and if your dog enjoys the company of other animals while you are gone, then boarding might be a better option for you.

Most of the people that work as pet sitters are animal lovers. They work full time in animal hospitals and vet offices and do pet sitting part time. Most of them are pet owners themselves and care deeply for all animals.

Going with a pet sitting service is always a good option when you really need someone you can count on. Sometimes the personal sitter you hire has her own emergency and has to cancel on you. When you go with a service, there is always someone else to take over the job if your scheduled sitter has to cancel.

How Does Your Pet Behave When You Are Away?

So if you’ve left your pet at home or in a boarding facility, chances are you’ve received a report card at the end. How did your dog do? Was he a good boy or a bit of a mischief hound? We’d love to hear your stories – the good, the bad and the ugly.

What is your best pet sitting story?

About The Author:

Michelle holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and has worked in marketing at Bank of America, Mattel and Hanes. Her expert advice and opinions have appeared in many outstanding media outlets, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Forbes, People, Reader's Digest and Apartment Therapy, among others.

She is the proud co-founder of Canine Journal and a dog lover through and through. Since the day she was born, she has lived in a home full of dogs. Her adult home is no exception where she and her husband live with Lily and Barley, their two adorable rescue pups.

In addition to her love for snuggling with dogs, she also has enjoyed working professionally in the canine field since 1999 when she started her first dog-related job at a dog bakery.

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Jenna Hunter
January 9, 2020 10:15 pm

My brother has a dog and he is taking his family on a vacation to Hawaii. He wants to make sure that he will stay at a pet resort so that they can have a vacation as well. It was interesting to learn about how she should take him to the vet first and then can get the vaccines at home where he is comfortable.

Shayla Cademis
August 8, 2019 11:13 am

Thanks for the suggestion to make sure to bring my pet’s normal type of food so he doesn’t get sick eating another type. My husband and I are going on a two-week trip to Europe, and we’ve been nervous about leaving our dog behind. Since we know he’ll at least have the food he’s comfortable with, it will give me some peace of mind. Hopefully we can find a great dog boarding location in our area!

Callum Palmer
August 2, 2019 10:53 pm

I’m going to be going out of town for two weeks and I can’t take my dog. Now I will have to find someone to come and take care of them. As you said, going with a pet sitting service would be a good idea as they would be part of an experienced group.

Sadie Cornelius
August 7, 2019 10:36 am
Reply to  Callum Palmer

Callum, yes we highly recommend Dog Vacay (I am a sitter for them and use for my pup when I am out of town or need a sitter). Please do your research, read reviews and schedule a meet and greet to find a good match and ensure that your dog will be in good care while you are away. It’s nice knowing they are in someone’s home getting love and attention versus a kennel or dog boarding.

Sutton Turner
December 11, 2018 2:01 pm

I like how you said that when boarding, you might want to make sure that your pet has the type of food that he is most used to. I am going on a vacation this summer. Thanks for the tips on pet boarding.

Amy Winters
December 4, 2018 3:21 pm

I appreciate you mentioning that we should make sure our pet has their usual food while boarding to keep them comfortable and healthy. My family will be going on a vacation next month. I want our dogs to be as comfortable as possible, so thanks for sharing the advice about their food!

Ellie Davis
July 24, 2018 7:05 pm

My family is going on vacation in a few weeks and we need to find a place to board our puppy. Thank you for suggesting that when we find a place we should make sure and share all of our contact information with them in case they need to get a hold of us. I’ll have to keep this in mind for when I find the right boarding place for my puppy.

Hazel Owens
May 22, 2018 11:18 pm

That’s good to know that you should wait no longer than ten days before going to the vet before taking your pet to the vet to makes sure they have all their vaccinations. My family is about to take a week vacation this summer and we don’t have anyone who can come take care of our Siamese cat. We’ll have to look at a cat boarding and make sure to take him to the vet beforehand.

Derek Dewitt
May 4, 2018 9:09 am

My wife and I are thinking about boarding our dog for the first time while we are on vacation this summer, so thanks for sharing this! I like your point about taking your pet to the vet beforehand. I’ll be sure to do this and ensure he is up-to-date on all his vaccines and treatments.

Khorae Olivier
February 14, 2018 12:11 pm

I love that you talked about planning to board your pet early in your travel plans to make sure your dog has a spot. Personally, I believe the sooner you handle something like this, the better, so you aren’t stressing when you bring your dog and worrying your pet. You did a great job of explaining to make sure your dog has their preferred food and is up-to-date on their vaccinations and shots to protect the animals they will be around.

jaque christo
January 5, 2018 12:19 pm

Thank you for the information on pet sitting and boarding. I definitely like the idea of bringing your dog’s normal food to the boarding facility. That way the staff can feed them what they are used to so there is no chance of them getting sick from the boarding facilities food.

March 16, 2017 6:09 am

These are incredible for those of us that possess creatures. I adore the tip about having a wearable wellness tracker. For my sister, amid the winter months, it gets hard for her to walk her pooch yet in the event that she set some wellness objectives and had something to track them with I know she would be more persuaded to go outside. You most likely don’t need you and your pet to be outside for drawn out stretches of time while it’s freezing, so be aware of the temperatures.