Petty Differences: Care Options For Your Pet While You’re On Vacation
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
So, you’re thinking about heading out on your honeymoon, or a much needed vacations but you just can’t stand the thought of taking the “kids” with you or leaving them home alone. And, what we mean by “kids” in this instance is your beloved pet(s).
So, unless you actually postpone your plans (perhaps indefinitely) or have a change of heart about including Fluffy or Fido, you may not have many other options, or do you?
Here’s what some pet professionals have to say:
1. Procure A Pet Sitter: Even on a tight budge, this is possible. Just find a friend, family member or co-worker to take care of your pet, in your home
The major advantage of this type of care say experts, is that due to willingness to keep the animal in its own environment, both animal and sitter are less “turned” off, and it’s they type of care that’s good for all animals. Pets won’t stress, and friends won’t feel like they have an “intruder” in “their” home, plus, they can retrieve the mail and or water your plants and check up on your home while they are there.
However, you must keep in mind, that the longer you are away for, the greater commitment you are asking others to make (which may interfere with “their” plans).
Furthermore, experts add that you’ll want to make sure that your pet(s) are comfortable and familiar with the person(s), and that the individual will show love and affection to the pet, and be prepared to play with it or take it to the vet if necessary. And, you need to be able to trust the person in your home.
Experts recommend asking the sitter to visit your home before you leave, especially in an effort to acquaint him or her with the pet (if that’s not already a established). Review care instructions and jot them down leaving copies with the sitter and in your home. And, don’t forget to include your vet’s number and a contact number where they can reach you.
2. Live-Out Options: This alternative calls for leaving your pet(s) in the care of others, but in your friend or family member’s home. While this may be an ideal option for smaller animals, except for birds, dogs, or cats, (who may get stressed by the change in environment), offering them constant companionship while you are gone, there is the risk of your pet damaging someone’s else’s home or infringing on their plans or lifestyle.
Financially speaking you may find yourself obliged to return the favor, so make sure to negotiate the fee up front.
Another consideration should be whether or not the person and your pet are familiar with each other and get along. And, is this individual capable of caring for your pet, including required feedings, playtime protocol, and emergency procedures (just in case) and, is this person trustworthy and reliable.
Experts suggest testing the waters by allowing your pet to stay with your friend or family member a few times prior to your taking off on your trip, just to see how things work out, and giving yourself ample time to make other arrangements if necessary.
3. Hiring A Professional: Securing the services of a profession pet sitter gives you the option of having daily live-in care for your pet or someone who will check in a few times a week.
Besides not having to “impose” on friends or family, this alternative is ideal for all pets, especially animals that are older and may not do well in a kennel or in someone else’s home.
It’s also ideal because your pet get to stay in familiar surroundings, reducing anxiety and stress, and some services also collect mail, water pants and check up on your home, including rotating blinds to give it that “lived-in” look.
However, this type of service is unregulated, so there are few if any guidelines sitters need to adhere to and you are asking a stranger into your home to be alone with your pet and your property. Plus, fees can range from $10 to $38 per visit and visits can range from 30 minutes to an hour, or $40 to $75 for an overnight stay. And, some sitters charge extra for giving your pet medication.
What experts strongly suggest you consider is whether or not your sitter is bonded and insured and what backup plan is offered (if any) if the sitter is unable to fulfill his or her duties or make it to your home? You’ll also want to think about giving the sitter a set of keys or the alarm code to your home (or the risk of leaving it off altogether instead of giving out such personal information). Plus you’ll want to know if your sitter has an animal first-aid kit. And, you’ll want to meet with them beforehand to get a good idea of whom you and your pet will be dealing with.
Experts suggest asking for references and arranging for a test visit before you go on vacation. In fact, they suggest a few visits just to make sure. It’s also advised that you get a number where your sitter and his or her agency can be contacted, and experts suggest calling to check up and see if he or she is doing what he or she has been hired to do.
4. Kennel Considerations: Kennels are probably best and most commonly used for dogs, housing them in a cage or pen and taking them out for a walk, some playtime and some exercise.
Still, cats can also benefit from a kennel, but remember this type of environment is NOT recommended for pets that are easily stresses. However, they are convenient, you are not imposing on anyone, nor are you inviting a stranger into your life and home.
Yet, experts note that frequently, you are placing your pet in an unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable environment with unknown people and other pets. And, they stress, that because this is an unregulated business there are not necessarily any standards to follow; and while most places are reputable and can do a good job taking care of your bet, you’ll really need to do your homework before placing your trust in them and your pet in their care. And you’ll want to consider the price, which may be $50 plus dollars daily for more upscale facilities or if you have more than one pet.
In additions, you need to consider and ask how often your pet is attended to and how frequently he or she is let out to exercise. Another question should be whether the kennel uses your lead or provides it own, as well as if the kennel has an emergency plan to evacuate the animals in case of fire or other emergency. You may also want to ask what happens to your pet if he or she gets sick, and what the policy is regarding more aggressive animals and pets? Finding out what vaccinations are required is also strongly suggested. And, experts add that noted kennels will insist that your pet be vaccinated against rabies, distemper and kennel cough.
Looking into how and how often the kennel is cleaned is yet another recommendation. Pay a (few) visits and note if staff members seem well-groomed, (something to look for also in other residing pets), and are they knowledgeable and caring? How do they respond to your presence and your “inspection”? Are dog beds placed up off the floor away from waste, water, and other materials? Can your dog jump over or dig under the fences? All which are valid concerns, mandating that you check out more than one kennel well in advance of your vacation date. Experts note, that reputable facilities tend to book quickly and that you should trust your gut, when knowing which kennel and which option is right for you and your pet.
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