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What to do with pets while on vacation

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Boarding facilities for cats and dogs are ready to accommodate pets for owners who need to go on vacation. Photos: hagit berkovich/via Shutterstock
Boarding facilities for cats and dogs are ready to accommodate pets for owners who need to go on vacation. Photos: hagit berkovich/via Shutterstock

Pets seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to travel – especially when they are not invited.

Kitty may cozy up to you the second suitcases are packed, or your dog may start looking depressed during the pre-vacation hustle and bustle.

Before going away, one of the biggest decisions for pet owners is what to do with their pets.

Here are some options on how best to prepare yourself (and your pets) for the impending trip.

1. Pet sitting

Many cats and dogs feel comfortable in their own environments, so having an experienced pet sitter come by for feedings, walks and playtimes is a solid option. Decide whether you want a sitter to simply visit your home on a daily basis (or perhaps multiple times per day), or have them stay in your home for the duration of your trip.

2. Pet-proof your home

If opting for a pet sitter, remove and put away anything that your pet may accidentally ingest or could cause an injury. Lock rooms you would not want your pets to get into and make their roaming area as comfortable as possible. It might be a good idea to set up pet fences or barriers to restrict your pets’ movements to specific areas only.

3. In-home pet boarding

In-home boarding involves you bringing your animals to a pet sitter’s home in your area before leaving on vacation.

In-home boarding gives dogs the opportunity to socialise with other dogs under the supervision of a responsible pet owner, as well as individualised attention and more daily interaction. In-home boarding can be more affordable than pet sitters that come to the home, too, and there is the added security of not giving up your house keys. National services such as sleepoverrover.com allow you to search for pet sitters that offer in-home boarding near you.

Do pets miss you when you go on vacation? We miss those furry little faces while we are gone.

4. Traditional boarding (dog kennels/catteries)

One standard option is placing pets in boarding kennels or catteries while you are away. If this is your preferred choice, call ahead and confirm the facility’s certification, and the licensing of the caretakers.

If you have a cat, choose a boarding facility where cats do not come into contact with each other. As a pet parent, it is important to search for boarding options that are feline-only. Cats do much better in this type of environment.

Unless the cats are from the same family, they should not be put into a room with other unfamiliar cats. This is an important health and safety precaution to ensure that cats will not fight or mate. Ask about a nice, large confinement area (a “kitty condo”) where cats will have a litter box, toys and food puzzles, as well as a hiding place within the area.

On the flip side, dogs are pack animals and sociable, so ensure that they will have enough activity time to play and run with other dogs.

5. Prepare the necessities

Whether your pets are staying at home or at a boarding facility, prepare enough supplies to last the whole duration of your vacation. If your pets require medication, you should have these readily available to the person caring for your animals as well. Leave detailed instructions for the pet sitter. Provide specific instructions on your pets’ routines, bathroom schedule, and favourite treats and toys. You must leave details on how you can be reached, as well as your vet’s contact information.

6. Call a friend, family member, or neighbour

Next time you go on holiday, consider asking a close friend or family member to stop in to feed and play with your four-legged family members. Of course, confirm that this person is responsible and knowledgeable about the basics of pet care. Be equally cautious if your dog is off-the-wall, or your cat has a history of marking “new territory,” as it may put a strain on your friendship. If this friend or neighbour is a pet owner, offer to return the favour someday, and consider bringing them back a small token from your trip as a thank you!

7. Take them along

It can be fun to travel with your pets in certain situations, and is becoming more feasible as the number of pet-friendly hotels grows. If an activity like camping is on the agenda, your canine may enjoy being with your family in the great outdoors. Double check that your vacation is pet-friendly, though, as many places, including parks and beaches, are known for “no dogs allowed” policies. But if your pet loves to travel, a pet-friendly vacation could be a nice change of pace. Vanessa Voltolina (petmd.com)

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