Pet care for vacation travels
Pet care: What do you do with your fur babies while you are on vacation?
Pets know when we are heading out on vacation, don’t they? They get in the suitcase. They give you that sad, pitiful, “You aren’t going to leave me, are you?” look.
Sometimes pets get to go on vacation with you!
But when they don’t get to do with you, what arrangements do you make for your pet?
Pet Care for Vacation: Petsitter
You can go through agencies for this. Seeking Sitters offers pet sitting now. The pros for using a service is that, with multiple employees, someone is available to take care of your pet – even if someone is sick or has car trouble or has a sick child…
The con…this option is expensive.They often charge $15- $20 PER visit. So, if they come once in the morning, mid day, dinner time, and bed time…that can really add up.
You can use a neighborhood kiddo. They are usually close to your house, have mom supervising, and costs a lot less. GREAT option if you can get it.
Pet Care for Vacation: Kennel
There are lots of options here, but whatever you choose, make sure you actually SEE with your own eyes where puppy is going to spend the time. Vets often have pretty small cages for animals.
Also, is it all concrete? Do they have a spot of grass for potty purposes? This is very confusing and distressing to dogs who are grass trained. They know they aren’t supposed to go unless it is on the grass. Be sure they have a spot for that or several times a day to go outside.
Check the times that dogs eat. Once we found a kennel that we thought would work, but the dogs were fed around 6:00 and then everyone went home for the night. They didn’t get to go outside to potty until 7:00 the next morning. Could you wait that long? I couldn’t an neither could the dogs which would make it very stressful for them.
We love kennels with lots of space. The best ones have outside time for the dogs several times a day and feed the dogs separately. This is important for us as one dog is determined to eat all the food, hers, yours, ours – all the food!
Think about the noise. If your dog is at the vet, think about what they’ll be hearing. Will sounds of other animals – maybe sick and unhappy animals disturb your pet?
Pet Care for Vacation: Pet share
This works for serious animal lovers. If you know someone who loves animals, ask if they will keep your dog.
We have one dog who can not be trusted out of her sleeping kennel while we are gone. So, a traditional pet sitter that just visits will not work for her. She needs to go home at night with someone. Otherwise she is spending way too much time in her little kennel.
The baby fences are not an option either as she climbs out!! Our little Brussels Griffon is a Houdini but it might work for your dog.
Pet Care for Vacation: Petsmart and Petco
These stores often have a kennel arrangement. They have play time where dogs of similar size play together. If your dog likes to have friends and playtime with others, this might work for you. You can even have them groomed while you are away.
Pet Care for Vacation: Separation anxiety
Pet anxiety can be a very real issue. Some pets feel so distressed when left alone. When distressed they can self harm by chewing or scratching themselves or become destructive to their environment and dig or chew in a damaging way.
Dr. J. Bradshaw, an expert on animal behaviors, suggests the following:
“You go to the door. You come back from the door. You put the coat back on the rack. You put the car keys back down on the shelf. Then you do it again, but this time maybe you open the door,” he says. “Then the next time, you go outside the door and come straight back in again. And the next time, go outside and stand outside for 10 seconds. And then come back in again. And what the dog learns at that stage … the association with you going out and you coming home. And that is enough for most dogs to reassure them — and very quickly you find you can leave them for hours. They’ve learned that association, and you coming back and making a fuss of them, and so the idea of you going out actually becomes pleasurable instead of something to panic.”
Pet Care for Vacation: Elderly animal
We have two very old Shelties – they will shortly be 15 and 17 years old. Other than being old, they are in very good health, but they require a different level of care than a young dog. For example, one no longer sees well in the dark and so daily walks need to be done during daylight.
Dogs might be weaker than they once were. One of our Shelties needs to be fed on a carpet. Otherwise his back legs just seem to slide right out from under him. Stairs are harder and harder to navigate for them, too.
Be sure to consider limitations when you choose pet care. Also, since all animals are so different, be sure to leave very detailed instructions for care so your pet is as comfortable as possible.
Pet Care for Vacation: Small pet
1) Leave them alone.
We have a hamster and he is OK by himself for about 3 days. After that, he needs someone to clean the smelly cage and check water and fuel levels. 😉
2) Take them to the kennel.
I typically pay about $8-$10 a day for hamster’s accomodations.
3) Ask your neighbors to help.
Popping in on a hamster every 3-4 days is a pretty easy job. Be sure to offer to help out at their house when they go out of town – water the plants, check the mail, feed their critter. This works out beautifully if you have a like minded neighbor who has a fish or a rodent, too. All bets go out the window with snakes though for me…..no way am I going anywhere near a snake!!
4) Ask your kids’ friends.
(BE SURE TO ASK MOM FIRST OR YOUR NAME WILL BE MUD!) Kids love animals. Moms love animals, too – especially the ones you only borrow for a little while. Another mom might agree to this short term arrangement as it gets her off the hook for actually having one live at her house.
5) Ask the teacher.
If your trip is during the school year, ask the teacher if your small critter can be a class pet while you are gone. This works for small and quiet animals like hamsters, guinea pigs, lizards, and turtles. Again – borrowing an animal can be fun – all the fun and none of the long term responsibility.
Beware of birds! Once, I took care of birds while someone was on vacation during the school year. The dad brought the cage and 2 small beautiful birds to the room. They proceeded to screech and sing every moment…of every day…the entire time they were there. Who knew such tiny creatures could make SO MUCH noise??
Science teachers often have a menagerie of their own and are especially open to these types of arrangements.
5) Leave them extra food.
You can buy long term feeder pellets for fish. Clean the tank before you leave. Be sure to leave a cover on the tank. I once had a catfish that had a bit of wanderlust, too, and would sometimes jump out of the tank! Thankfully, I was always close enough to notice and put him back.
Get everything ready before your trip! Check out the tips for what to do before you leave in this related post:
What arrangements do you make for your pet while you vacation?
Natalie, The Educational Tourist