Pet Travel 101: Dog Boarding
Owning a pet can add stress to traveling, whether you decide to bring your pet or leave them at home. This article will touch on ways to ensure that your pet receives the best possible care if you choose to travel without them. Covered below are tips to help you decide between a boarding facility and a pet sitter, as well as how to locate the best facilities and sitters.
In choosing between boarding your animal or leaving them at home with a pet sitter, cost can be a key consideration. Boarding facilities can be expensive and not all owners will be able to afford boarding their dog or cat. If boarding is affordable, one of the key advantages provided by dedicated boarding facilities is that their personnel are trained and able to observe, monitor, and handle animals with medical problems and/or who require daily medications. If, for example, you rely on a pet sitter to give your cat its daily regimen of meds, you run the risk that the sitter might give the cat her meds but fail to notice the cat going beneath the couch (or somewhere else out of sight) and spitting up its meds. At a good boarding facility, the staff are much less likely to miss something like this, and are also trained to spot the signs of an animal that is in distress or suffering from a medical issue. Animals have evolved to be masters of masking their own distress, and even a conscientious pet sitter may not detect that something is wrong with your animal.
For dogs, consideration should be given to their personality when deciding between boarding and pet sitting— dogs who are social and don’t get anxious around new people and/or other animals will likely enjoy staying at a good boarding facility. Conversely, if your dog is shy or anxious around strangers or other animals, leaving them at home with a good sitter who checks in on them regularly and takes them on walks might be the better solution. In general, cats don’t like being taken out of their normal environment, regardless of how social they are with other humans.
Once you have decided on one of these two options, the next step is finding a boarding facility or pet sitter who you can trust with your pet’s wellbeing. These days, we have the benefit of social media and review sites like Yelp.com to help us make decisions about whom to leave our pets with. We strongly recommend that, even if a facility or sitter has good Yelp reviews, you seek out personal references from individuals you know who have actually used the boarding facility/pet sitter before. The best testimonial is that which comes from other trustworthy pet owners. You can also ask your veterinarian if they have a list of trusted boarding facilities in your area.
In addition to testimonials, be aware that one sign of a good boarding facility for dogs is their request that you bring your dog to their facility for a trial run before you leave town. It is always a good idea to test how your dog handles a new environment before leaving them there for a long time, and good facilities will want to make sure that they are the right fit for your loved one.
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