If you’re planning to travel for work or pleasure and can’t take your pet with you, you’ll need to leave them in capable hands. For some families, this means calling a family friend to pet sit your furry friend at home. For others, it might be a trip to the local boarding facility.
One choice isn’t necessarily better than the other for all pets. Whether you enlist the help of a pet sitter or board your pet will ultimately come down to a few things, including your pet’s temperament and health, the length of your travels and your budget.
Here are a few things you should consider to help you make the right decision.
Boarding your pet means taking them to a facility away from home, often called a pet hotel or kennel. At this facility, staff will give your pet care throughout the day, including feeding them, taking them for walks, letting them play with the other animals and giving them some one-on-one TLC. The offerings at each boarding facility will differ, so it’s very important that you visit the facility and ask questions before booking a stay for your pet.
Boarding is a great option for some pets, but it might not be the best for others. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Good for social pets: Social pets, particularly dogs, might be happier kept in a boarding facility for a few days because they’ll have opportunities to see and play with other dogs. Many kennels take pets for walks multiple times a day and allow them to have supervised play time, which provides physical and social enrichment for energetic pups.
- Good for pets with medical needs: Most boarding facilities have veterinary professionals on staff or on call to provide care to animals with health problems. Most staff will also be trained in how to administer medication or perform health maintenance tasks throughout the day. This is a good choice for pets with issues like diabetes or other conditions.
- Good if you don’t know pet sitters: If you don’t have a close family member or friend in your neighborhood who can watch your pet for you, it’s normal to be hesitant to hire a stranger to be in your home. Boarding your pet can alleviate those risks and keep your home secure.
- Good for shorter trips: Boarding your pets is best used if you’re taking a short trip and can’t bring your pet. These facilities do come at a cost, and long-term trips can result in an expensive bill. Additionally, being away from home can cause some pets distress, so shorter trips might keep their anxiety lower.
On the other hand, hiring a pet sitter involves asking someone you trust to stay in your home while you’re away and take care of your pets. This person might be there full time or might be away for work and personal errands but return to walk and feed your pet and stay overnight. The logistics of the pet sitting arrangement will ultimately be up to you.
Pet setting is a great alternative to boarding for many pets, but it isn’t always feasible. Consider the following:
- Good if you have someone you trust: It’s very important that you leave your pets and your home in the hands of someone you trust. Hiring a stranger to pet sit might work out well for you, but you need to make sure that whoever you hire is responsible and will care for your pets as if they are their own.
- Good for pets with anxiety: Pets with anxiety can become very stressed if they are transported and left in an unfamiliar place like a boarding facility. To keep them calm, it might be easier to bring the care to them and allow them to rest in their usual environment.
- Good for pets with immune problems: Although many boarding facilities have strict guidelines about sanitation, certain diseases are common in kennel environments. This can be particularly dangerous if your pet is immunodeficient or already has an illness that weakens their immunity. For this reason, limiting their exposure to other pets and hiring a pet sitter might be safer for their health.
- Good for longer trips away: If you are going to be gone for more than a few days, hiring a pet sitter may help you save some money and allow your pet to remain comfortable. Pet sitters are often cheaper than boarding facilities (but not always). Additionally, your pet is likely to be happier in their own environment with the same routine you follow when you are home.
- Good for multi-pet households: If you have multiple pets at home, hiring a pet sitter can ensure that all your pets’ needs are met while allowing them to enjoy each other’s company. Your absence might cause them stress, so you don’t want to exacerbate that stress by separating them from their furry friends, too!
Choosing to board your pet or hire a pet sitter is a personal choice that requires careful consideration. Think about your options to ensure you’re picking the right one for your pet. No matter which one you choose, though, make sure you prepare before your trip to ensure they have everything they need while you’re away.