Although most of us are unwilling to give up our travel plans in order to ensure that our pets are comfortable and well-adjusted, still we worry about their health, safety, and relative happiness when we have to leave them alone for an extended period of time. For this reason, people often fret about whether they should leave pets at home with a sitter, where they’re bound to be most comfortable, or send them off to a kennel where they can get round-the-clock care from professionals. And for most loving pet parents this is a terrible conundrum. Which type of service will provide the best option for your poochy pal or cuddly kitty? Here are just a few things to consider before you decide where to leave your pet while you’re on vacation.
One consideration that cannot be avoided is cost, and both options can come with a price tag. Generally speaking, you’re going to pay more to board your pet at a kennel, mostly because they tend to have staff on at all hours of the day and night to monitor and attend to the many pets in temporary residence. In addition, some kennels are now set up like pet hotels. So instead of merely letting your dog run around enclosures all day with other canines, they have full obstacle courses and tons of toys for them to play with. Some also have cat sanctuaries full of carpet-covered trees, plenty of nooks to hide in, and a wonderful array of furry and feathery toys for them to bat and chase. In addition, these ritzy pet lodgings are starting to offer streaming feeds via webcam so that the nervous pet parent can check in on their furry pal at all hours of the day or night. But it’s not cheap.
The other option is to leave your pet at home, where he’s bound to be more comfortable anyway. You can either hire a care-giving service to come in and feed, walk, and/or play with your pets throughout the day; or you might ask a friend to do you a favor and feed your pet while you’re away. But your best bet may be to hire someone to stay at your house (live in your guest room, ostensibly) while you’re on vacation. If you have pets that tend to get destructive when left alone (peeing in corners, eating the couch, or barking until they’re hoarse, for example), this is probably the option that will keep your pet the happiest (not to mention your neighbors) and ensure that your house isn’t a wreck by the time you get home.
The trick here is finding someone responsible enough to care for your animal. While it can certainly be tempting to hire a neighborhood kid for the task, you need to consider that little Johnny from next door can certainly put food and water in a bowl twice a day, but he might not know what to do if your dog swallows the squeaker from his favorite toy or if your cat hacks up a hairball. This is why hiring a pro is generally preferable. Of course, one point in favor of pet lodging on this score is that most kennels have a veterinarian on staff or at least on call. As you can see, there are pros and cons to each position. So you’ll simply have to decide which option is best for your pet’s particular needs before you jet off to parts unknown.