What do you do with your pets when you go on vacation? Well, you could never go on vacation again but realistically that is probably not the best answer. This can be a difficult issue for people. What is the best option? It can depend on the pet. Some dogs are very outgoing and comfortable in new situations. For them it probably doesn’t matter too much where they stay while you are away. There are boarding kennels or people that pet sit in their home. Other pets are much more sensitive. They may do better if they can stay in their own home while a pet sitter comes in to care for them. Cats in general probably feel more comfortable at home where they are surrounded by the familiar objects of everyday life. Whichever option you choose, you will need to do some planning to keep your pet happy, healthy and comfortable while you’re away.
Perhaps the best way to ensure your pet will be properly taken care of is to leave detailed, written instructions with the caregiver. Here is a list of some basic information to cover in your instructions.
First of all, you should confirm the dates of coverage. There would be nothing worse than being about to leave and finding that the caregiver is expecting you to need them next week. Contact information during your vacation is very important. Your pet sitter should know how to get a hold of you in an emergency. Leave an itinerary and all of your contact information, including your cell phone number and the numbers to the hotels or homes where you will be staying. It would also be helpful to leave contact information for a friend or family member locally in case a problem arises and your pet needs a temporary place to stay.
Detail your pet’s normal care and activities. Include feeding information, both the type of food and amounts and feeding schedule. List any medication your pet is on and when and how it needs to be taken. Any allergies or sensitivities should be listed. Also, write down your pet’s microchip number and registration information in case he goes missing. For pet sitters in your home, leave them information on where your pet likes to go for walks or any other activities your pet enjoys. Do they have a favourite toy? Favourite hiding place. Include some personality information. Is your pet shy, does she hide from strangers or bite when afraid. Does she try to run out the door or chase ducks on her walks. The more the pet sitter knows, the easier and less traumatic it will be for everyone.
You may want to ask your pet sitter to call or email you to let you know how things are going. You could ask them to give your pet a quick once-over every day and to monitor their eating and bathroom habits.
Plan for any unexpected delays. You should ask your sitter to hold on to your house key until you’ve actually returned home. This way someone has access to your pet in case your flight gets delayed or your plans experience some other unforeseen alteration. If your return is delayed, contact your sitter. Finally, let your sitter know once you’ve returned home.
No one expects it, but sometimes emergencies happen. They could happen to your pet, to the pet sitter or to you and you should have plans in place for any of these events. If you are not going to be easily reachable while you are away, make sure you have left clear instructions of what your wishes are in case your pet gets ill. These instructions should include who can make decisions in an emergency and what types of treatments you would want to have done. In addition to your contact information, it’s also important to leave your veterinarian’s name and phone number. It is also a good idea to contact your vet before you go out of town, letting them know what kinds of emergency care to provide if they are unable to reach you. You can leave a letter at the veterinary hospital authorizing the pet sitter to seek treatment and confirming you will be responsible for any costs of care. If you have pet insurance, make sure that your pet sitter knows that as well.
The more planning you do and the more information you leave with the caregiver, your friends and family and your veterinarian, the more you can relax on your holiday knowing that your pet is in the best hands possible.