Pet Patter by Joilene: Vacations and your Pets


What most people do not know is that many pets are often given up at popular vacation times because of wrongly perceived thoughts about inconvenience. There are many options out there that help you go away on vacation while your pet can be safe and happy at either a boarding facility or in your own home with a trusted pet sitter, friend or family member.        

Here are a few helpful tips for you about how to ensure that your vacation is worry free and your pet’s vacation away from you is safe, enjoyable and stress free.

If you opt for leaving your pet behind, take the time to arrange a meet and greet with the pet caregiver a week or so before your vacation so as to get your pet used to the person and see how they interact together. Give them information regarding your pet’s routine and include a list of instructions of what to do if the pet becomes lost or in need of a veterinarian. It is good to do this ahead of time in case you forget because you are too preoccupied the day you leave for vacation. Also,  it is also a good practice to notify your veterinarian of the pet sitters name and the time period that they will be caring for your pet as well as to leave your credit card information available to the veterinarian in case of an unexpected visit.

Before you go, leave an adequate supply of food, any required medication, grooming instructions, exercise routine and veterinarian’s (including emergency clinic) telephone numbers. Always leave your itinerary and contact phone numbers or email address. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and tag and has had all vaccinations. Phone/email your pet sitter a couple of times during your vacation to check in.

Professional pet sitters are an excellent alternative to boarding your pet, especially for cats who often don’t do well out of their home environment. Your pet will enjoy its normal routine and the comfort of their own toys and bed and have a new friend. Talk to friends and family and find out if they can recommend or know of someone who is a trusted pet sitter.

If you have agreed to have a neighbor, friend or relative drop in a few times each day to feed, water and exercise your pet, ensure they visit for a few hours each visit. This ensures your pet is given the time to get outside to do its business and have the companionship you intended for them. It is also a good idea to leave the radio or television on at a low level every other day or so to help your pet not feel too alone as well as leaving some small lights on in the house in the evening.

If you must use a boarding facility, visit the facility beforehand and check for the following: Are the cages clean and large enough for your pet? Is water available at all times? Do the facility operators insist on all vaccinations? How often will your pet receive exercise and for how long each time and where? What kind of exercise? Is a veterinarian on call 24 hours a day?

If you decide to take your pet along with you on your vacation, Bring along food, medications, a pet first aid kit, familiar bedding and toys. Have on your pet an identification and rabies tag and carry your pets current health and vaccination certificates.

Depending on your method of travel be it in a car, train or airplane, get your pet used to travelling. Take them for some short rides before vacation time. Do not feed your pet for a few hours before a trip however, if you must, feed them a light meal at least 6 hours before departure. Allow for exercise breaks during long trips; they’re good for both you and your pet.  

If you are travelling by airplane or train, talk to your veterinarian first as this type of travel can put some pets at risk, especially dogs with short noses or older pets who may need to be tranquilized.  Try to schedule the trip with minimal stops and transfers. Make sure that you have the proper carrier, available from airlines or pet supply stores, being large enough for your pet to stand, lie down or turn around in (this standard is required by law). Label the carrier “LIVE ANIMAL” with arrows indicating upright position. Include your name, pet’s name, address, phone number and destination. Pick up your pet immediately upon arrival.  

Before you decide how your pet will be cared for at vacation time, imagine yourself in your pet’s place. If you think that travel may be too stressful for your pet, be reassured knowing that so many pet-sitters and boarding facility operators are providing the service of quality pet care because they love animals, enjoy being with them and help taking care of them. Make your educated choice with ease. Vacations do not need to mean the abandonment of your pet.