How to Care for Your Pets When You Go Out of Town
Vacationing is the perfect way to relax, but preparing to go away comes with many stresses. Deciding who will care for your pets is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. Everyone’s situation is different. Things to be considered for your specific situation are how your pet deals with other people and other pets and how much cash you are able and willing to spend on pet care. Some pets need constant attention, while others are happy to sleep away their time while you are partying it up away from home.
Here are a few options for you to consider. No decision is wrong, it’s what is best for you and for your pets.
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Plan a vacation where your pets are welcome
Consider your dog or cat’s traits and how they react to new places and things. Will your pet adapt well to living in a vacation rental or a hotel for a week? Is your dog going to bark the entire time that you leave him/her in the hotel? Will your cat urinate outside the litter box while you are sun-bathing on the beach?
If you have never traveled with your pet, take a small road trip with your animal. See how they do for one night before you commit to a full week of vacation.
Renting a House
Renting a house for a week is the cheapest option for caring for your pets. You can enjoy time with friends and family and your cats or dogs can participate in the fun. Removing the need for someone to care for your pet, removes the decision-making process altogether. Websites such as Trip Advisor offer specific options to find pet-friendly places. Please read the fine print of any contract. Pets may be allowed at specific vacation rentals, but that does not mean that an additional deposit is not required. But even with a deposit, this is most likely your cheapest option.
Staying in a hotel
Another website, that I recently found is Bring Fido. Hotels with pet-friendly options are hard to find. This website allows you to search for a specific town and find hotels that allow pets with or without spending extra money on deposits. In addition, Bring Fido shows restaurants, activities, and events that allow pets (dogs specifically) to accompany you. Whether you are looking for a dog park in an area that you are planning a day trip or planning to spend the night in a hotel, Bring Fido has many options.
Again, anticipate spending a little extra cash per night for a pet deposit at your pet-friendly hotel. This deposit is here to protect homeowners or hotel managers from destructive animals.
Have a friend or family member Care for Your Pets
If your pet doesn’t travel well or if you want a vacation from the hassle of taking care of your pet, you can have a friend or family member watch your pets.
Friend or Family stays at your house
Asking a friend or family member to stay in your home, provides care for your pets and also for your house. Most pets feel more relaxed in their own home. They only need to adjust to the new person caring for them. Your friend or family member can keep your pets on the same schedule that they are used too. Of course, this also depends on the personalities of your pets and the willingness of your friends and family to stay away from their house for the time you are away. If you have well-behaved pets, finding someone to watch them, may not be a huge deal.
My two dogs, Elliot and Lexi are quite a handful because of their energy level. Many people are exhausted after trying to tire out my pups. Family members have watched the dogs and cats in our home, but even with being in our own home, Elliot is very anxious without the presence of myself or my husband.
Having someone stay at your house comes with a second benefit. Your house is also taken care of. Your plants and fish can be fed. No mail has to be collected at the post office while you are away. Someone is around so that any problems that occur with your house can be addressed right away. If a pipe freezes and breaks in the winter, or a heater or air conditioner breaks down, your friend or family member can address it before it becomes a bigger issue.
Remember to offer your friends or family compensation for their help. Money is the normal excepted currency for petsitting, but this is not the only way to show appreciation. If you are low on funds and know someone that could use the time away from their own home situation, or your home has a special perk such as a pool, this could be the perfect situation. Just be sure that they are trustworthy and respect your house and your pets.
Have your pets cared for in your friend or family’s house
A friend or family member may not be able to stay at your house. Maybe it’s too far from their work, or they have their own pets that require care. If your pets get along with their pets, ask if your pets can stay at your friend or family members house. Depending on the number of dogs this involves, this could be overwhelming for your caregiver. But it’s always an option. In this type of environment, my dogs are more entertained and tend to look for my husband and myself less. Elliot is less depressed as he can play with someone new more often and tire himself out.
Money compensation seems like a safe bet for this scenario unless you are able to watch their pets at your house when your friend or family member goes away. We haven’t tried this option again, because our dogs have too much energy for our friends and family. Plus my cats each take medicine so if I find someone to watch my hyper dogs at their house, I usually need someone else to come in once a day to administer meds to my cats. My cats don’t want to be cared for in someone else’s house. They barely want someone to come in to care for them.
Take your pets to a boarding facility
Personally, I have never taken my pets to a boarding facility. This does not mean it is a bad option. I considered a boarding facility when we moved out of state and did not know a soul in our new area. Touring several facilities, I seriously considered this option. I looked for boarding of my dogs and some of the cats (the ones that required meds daily).
Visit several facilities if you are considering this option. Watch how the dogs are treated while you are on tour. Ask how they will care for your pets. Inquire about individual feedings. Ask about playtime and how they determine if your dogs will play safely with other dogs when out of the cage. Determine if there is an indoor playtime and outdoor playtime. See how secure the outdoor play area is. Read reviews online to see what others say and decide if they will care for your pets the way that you do. Ask about emergencies and how they handle not being able to get in touch with you while on your vacation.
I was unable to fathom taking Elliot & Lexi to a boarding facility. It was not because of the quality of the places, but because my dogs have too much energy to be caged for ‘most of the day’. Many dogs are lazier than mine and may benefit from 1-2 hours of playtime daily, while they sleep or lounge the remainder of the day in their kennel. Plus the boarding facility allows both dogs to board together. My girl Lexi gets annoyed with Elliot when she is confined with him for too long. If they were in the same cage at the kennel, there would be a scuffle and that’s not something you want anyone to have to deal with, much less when you are on vacation.
I knew when I toured the facilities that it probably wasn’t an option for my hyper dogs. But my cats were another consideration. My cats would be stressed out in a boarding facility, but at least they would be confined to a small space and someone could pill them easily. Having someone come into our house daily to pill them seemed problematic. With the run of the house, the cats would soon learn why this person stopped by and hide from the very person that was there to help them.
I ultimately decided not to board my cats, as the expense for several cats was more than I was willing to spend. Plus I would only board the ones that require meds and then I’d need someone to come daily to my house for freshwater, food, and litter scooping.
Hire a Pet Sitter
I was discouraged from trying out a pet sitter, as I heard many horror stories about people not showing up or not coming as much as was agreed upon to care for your pets. However, when we moved to our new area and I ruled out the boarding facility, we had to engage a pet sitter if we wanted to go anywhere without Elliot. I ran across Rover.com as I was searching for a boarding facility. We gave it a try when we just had Elliot and the 5 cats.
Our 1st Rover Experience
Our first trip was a short 2-day trip that did not require a pet sitter for the cats. Elliot was the primary concern at the time. I used Rover.com to search for pet sitters within my area that would take Elliot’s age (he was only 1 year old at the time). Several inquiries to pet sitters that met my criteria were sent. Many responded very quickly. I chatted with some people via text and was able to set up a meet & greet for later that week.
The meet & greet is essential to allow my dog to interact with the pet sitter’s dog at their house to determine if they get along. It also gives the dog owner and the pet sitter a chance to meet and discuss issues or problems that the dog owner is concerned about. And the pet sitter can determine whether the dog is acceptable to watch.
Elliot stayed at the sitter’s home with their one dog. The pet sitter’s dog distracted Elliot during the day. He was only depressed and looking for Daddy in the evening. The pet sitter reported all of this via text message and pictures while we were away. Hearing about your dog while away on vacation, without having to stress over how he’s doing is very satisfying. Our Rover petsitter sent pictures of them playing and little stories of what they did while we were away.
More Experience with Rover
As we used Rover more often, I found that sitters set their own prices and criteria. They have total control of their choices. Instead of having dogs stay at the sitter’s house, you can request a sitter to stay at your house to care for your pets. Also, drop-in visits or walking visits are other options to look into. There are even sitters that will care for your cats! Each Rover sitter determines what type of work they want to participate in. They also determine what size dog they will accept and the number of dogs they want to care for. When you search for pet sitters, you place in all your criteria and a list of pet sitters pops up in your general area. No addresses are listed until a meet & greet is booked.
Our experience finding a dog sitter for 2 dogs seemed more challenging. Plus, Lexi is more particular about which dogs she likes when compared to Elliot. This made Becoming a Pet Sitter for Rover a bit more complicated for me, but that’s another tail.
Private Pet Sitters
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Private pet sitters. If you hear about someone being a great pet sitter, by all means, try them out. Our problem was that we didn’t even know anyone in the area to ask for recommendations. Use the same criteria for private pet sitters that you would for boarding facilities or Rover.com when ‘interviewing your pet sitter’. Part of the appeal of Rover.com is that I can search in any city for pet sitters in that area and still find someone to hire.
Trust the person that cares for your pets
The options seem to be endless for caring for your pets while you are out of town. What you decide is totally your decision. Just know that there is an added expense when you own a pet and go out of town. The total cost of the care of your pets is a consideration, but should not be the primary concern. Make sure that you trust the person caring for your pets, above and beyond the total cost of it.
If you are reachable on vacation, make sure your caretaker knows how to get a hold of you. Many times in an emergency animal hospital, pets come in with a sitter with no knowledge of the pet’s history. Your pet sitter should know your desires on life-saving treatment for your pet, keeping in mind any financial constraints that you may have. If you go out of the country and are not reachable, make sure someone is designated to make life or death decisions for your animals. This could be a family member still reachable in the country but not close enough to pet sit or just a close friend. No one wants to make these decisions, but having a plan in mind just in case, will also put your mind at ease. Hopefully, nothing will go wrong, and your pets will be waiting for you at your house or your petsitter’s house, wagging their tail…….
I like that you mention how you should visit different facilities to see how the dogs are treated while you are there. My husband and I are going on vacation for our honeymoon. I think we should look into finding a quality animal boarding facility to help us make sure our dogs are safe.
Thanks for your comment. It’s always best to do a drop-in on a boarding facility. They don’t get a chance to make things look better than they actually are. But understand that animals are unpredictable and nothing should be totally clean and in perfect shape. That being said, they should not be poop in every cage. Mostly you are looking for how they care for the animals.