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How to Choose a Sitter or Kennel if Your Pet Doesn't Travel

How to Choose a Sitter or Kennel if Your Pet Doesn't Travel

Unfortunately, not all pets are suited for travel. Some dogs get too anxious around new people or situations to be safe while they travel. Many cats prefer the comfort of home as well. If you have a nontraditional pet, it is even less likely that you'll be able to take them with you to your destination. In these cases, you may need to hire a pet sitter or reserve space at a kennel.

Choosing a Pet Sitter

For many people, the optimal choice is to hire a pet sitter while they go on a trip. A pet sitter either visits the home according to a schedule or stays in the home continuously with the pets while the owners are away. Of course, hiring a pet sitter means leaving your home and pets vulnerable, so if you cannot hire someone you already know, it is important to do your research.

Before hiring a pet sitter, ask:

•Is he or she insured (for commercial liability) and bonded?

•What is included in the fee?

•Does the sitter require that your pet have a current vaccination?

•What kind of animals does the sitter typically care for?

•How will a medical, weather or home emergency be handled?

•Does he or she fully understand your pet's medical or dietary needs?

•How much time will be spent with your pet while you are on your trip?

The pet sitter should:

•Have a polished, professional attitude.

•Provide references.

•Have a standard contract outlining terms of service.

•Have experience in caring for animals.

•Insist on current vaccinations.

•Ask about your pet's health, temperament, schedule and needs.

•Visit and interact with your pet before you leave for your destination.

•Devote time and attention to your pet.

•Be affiliated with pet care organizations.

Be sure you:

•Explain your pet's personality — favorite toys, good and bad habits, hiding spots, general health, etc.

•Leave care instructions, keys, food and water dishes, extra supplies (food, medication, etc.), and phone numbers for your veterinarian and an emergency contact.

•Bring pets inside before leaving.

Choosing a Kennel

Some homeowners prefer that nobody enter their home during their trip. If this sounds like you, a kennel may be a better way to meet your pet's needs while you are away.

Before reserving a kennel, ask:

What is included in the fee?

Are current vaccinations required?

What kind of animals do they board?

How will a medical or weather emergency be handled while you are on your trip?

Will your pet be kept in a cage or run?

Will your pet receive daily exercise?

Does the kennel fully understand your pet's medical or dietary needs?

How and how often will staff interact with your pet?

The kennel should:

Require proof of current vaccinations.

Be clean, well-ventilated and offer adequate protection from the elements.

Have separate areas for dogs, cats and other animals, with secure fencing and caging.

Clean and disinfect facilities daily.

Give your pet his regular food on his regular schedule.

Provide soft bedding in runs/cages.

Understand your pet's medical needs.

Provide or obtain veterinary care if necessary.

Offer sufficient supervision.

Have a friendly, animal-loving staff.

Be sure you:

Notify staff of behavior quirks (dislike of other animals, children, etc.).

Provide food and medication.

Leave a familiar object with your pet.

Leave phone numbers for your veterinarian and an emergency contact.

Spend time with your pet before boarding him.

Keep in mind that not all pet sitters or kennels accommodate the same types of pets. Some pet sitters are not comfortable sitting for large dogs, for example. Most kennels won't accommodate exotic pets, and many don't even accommodate cats. To prevent a stressful situation, research your options as far in advance as possible.