How to Care for Your Pets While You're Away This Holiday Season
It’s that time of year again: the Holidays. This year, 2020, has been an incredibly unpredictable year, but at least the calendar remains consistent. With the holiday season upon us, many of us may be considering our options for responsibly traveling to visit friends and family. There's a lot to consider this year, so make sure you don't overlook your furrier family members. Better to answer the question sooner in your plans:
What should we do for pet care while we're on holiday?
We know some of you may have just adopted this year, and this might even be your first time leaving your pet for a few days. What are your best options? Where to begin? Today, we’re breaking down the many holiday pet care options available for you so that you can make the best choice for your pet.
Popular Pet Care Apps
A popular option for arranging pet care is using an app like Rover or Wag! Both of these apps allow you to schedule dog walks and at-home care for your pet. These apps recommend that you book petsitting appointments 4 to 6 weeks in advance for prime selection, though there are usually some options available closer to the holidays. (1)
Benefits of using a pet care app include:
- Thorough background checks are performed on all sitters.
- Your pet can stay at home, which is comforting for many animals.
- Your pet sitter can also watch your house while you’re away (emptying the mailbox, turning on lights, etc.)
- The apps are easy to use and usually insure their sitters.
- You don’t have to worry about dropping your pet off the day you’re leaving. You can leave your keys and any additional notes, food, etc. and go!
Disadvantages of hiring a sitter:
- Hiring a pet sitter is a costlier option than having a friend or family member watch your pet.
- Your pet could attack your sitter.
- If your pet is loose around the house, there may be increased accidents if they’re not being taken out as often.
Dropping Your Pet Off At A Kennel
Kennels are another popular option for pet care while you’re away. One of the best parts about using a kennel is that everything is already set up for you. The kennel already has staff and equipment to care for your pet. Other than setting up your pet’s stay, checking references, and packing a few things for your pet, you’re good to go!
Advantages of a kennel:
- Many have staff at the kennel overnight, which means your pet is never completely alone.
- Some newer kennels are spa-like resorts for your pet, where they can be groomed and enjoy a vacation themselves.
- Some dogs may enjoy the chance to play with other dogs during their stay.
Disadvantages of using a kennel:
- Some pets may feel overwhelmed and anxious with the loud noise and high energy environment.
- Your pet will always be around other animals, which can be stressful and expose them to kennel cough, infections, and viruses. If your pet doesn’t play well with other animals, this is another important consideration.
- Cats are known to be more on edge at kennels and usually do better staying at home.
In House vs. Out of House Care
Having your pet stay at home gives them a familiar environment, but is it truly the best option for them?
The advantage of in-house care is maintaining the safe environment that your pet knows and loves, but you’ll likely have to do more prep work to prepare your sitter. Prep work could include things like making a checklist for feeding and medication times, measuring out food and dosages for each day, meeting with your sitter at least once before you leave, and preparing for the accidents your pet may have.
On the other hand, out of house care allows your pet to be taken care of in a place that is already setup to care for animals. This may be a pet sitter who cares for pets out of their home or a kennel. The disadvantage of this is that some pets, especially cats, may be stressed out in a new environment.
Another thing to consider is the day you’re leaving home. Are you driving to the airport at 4 am the morning that you’re leaving? You will need to drop your pet off at the kennel or petsitter the day before. If you’re leaving later in the day, you will need to plan in ample time to drop your pet off. With in-house care, you can lock up and go.
Taking Your Pet On Your Travels
With more hotels and airlines allowing pets to travel with you, many pet parents opt to take their pets with them on holiday.
Taking your pet with you allows you to celebrate the holidays with your favorite furry pal and keep a close eye on them. On the other hand, flying can be very stressful for pets. Many airlines won’t allow certain pets like brachycephalic dog breeds (English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, etc.) onboard due to their heightened health risk while flying. (2)
Traveling with your pet will require advanced planning and thorough research on pet regulations and requirements. If you plan on traveling with your pet, see our piece on tips and tricks for flying and road travel here.
No matter your holiday plans, keep your pet up to date with veterinary checkups and vaccinations by seeing your veterinarian regularly. Accidents do happen, whether you’re watching your pet or having someone else watch them. Before you go, download our free emergency preparedness form so your sitter has all of your pet's information on hand!
We wish you all safe, healthy, and mindful travel.