To Board or Not to Board

Posted by on Jan 16, 2010 in Lifestyle, Paws for Thought, Travel | 0 comments

Oh, the holidays. Ready or not, they have arrived. Turkey dinners are forecasted, suitcases are dusted off and it all begins!  Many of you are planning your holiday travels…to see Grandma Millie in New York, Mom and Dad in Atlanta or you may just want to get away to an island in the Caribbean and escape the chaos! What about your four legged family member? Who will care for them while you are away? Instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in your head, are you having visions of Macaulay Culkin in the movie Home Alone? If you have used your last I.O.U. and your trusted neighbor, friend or family member just can’t care for Fido this time around…you do have options.

 Pet Boarding. There are wonderful facilities in the area that will house your pet while you are gone and offer many packages from which you can choose.  Your dog can stay in a higher end facility with indoor “suites,” outdoor playtimes, daycare and grooming… the list of add on’s is extensive. Or, you can board at a facility that has traditional kennels which typically offer outdoor and indoor space and a couple of walks a day. Nowadays, pet resorts, as they’re often called offer a wide variety of options, all safe and secure, giving you peace of mind while you are away. Before you decide if this is the route you should take, go visit a few boarding facilities, take a tour, learn their policies and prices, meet the managers and note how you feel when you are there. Rates for cats and dogs can start anywhere from $20 a day and go up from there. Don’t be surprised that if you choose a top of the line package with a large suite, many play times, extra cuddling, treat before bed, etc. that your price per night could be upwards of $50. Most facilities offer multiple pet discounts.  Look for a place that allows your dog to eat his own food, not food provided by the facility. Your dog might be a nervous boarder, so any change in his diet might impact his digestive wellness. Also, your buddy will need to be up to date on the following vaccinations: DHLPP, Bordetellaand Rabies.  Once you have decided on a facility, have your dog or cat visit and spend the night prior to your trip. This way, he will be familiar with his home away from home and have an idea of the routine, smells, sounds and staff. The goal is for your pet to feel like he is on a vacation while you are on yours!

Pet Sitter – Pet sitters are a dedicated group of men and women that will take care of your pet in the comfort of your home. You can choose how many times a day they come to visit your pet and what they will do with Fifi or Fido while they are there. If your dog loves to play ball in the back yard, they will incorporate that during their visit time. If your dog is a dog park regular he can certainly enjoy this routine with his sitter.  Pet sitters can also take your pet to the vet or grooming appointments and will keep a close eye on their health and behavior while you are away. Some sitters will spend the night at your home if you so desire.  Upon your return you will fi nd notes written after each pet sitter visit so you will get a clear snapshot of how Fido spent his days while you were gone. They will let you know how often Fido did his “business” and how he behaved on his walks. Pet sitting costs range from about $18-$20 per visit per day.  As with boarding facilities, most sitters offer multi pet discounts.  Before making the decision to go the pet sitter route, assess whether or not your dog is well suited to be home alone for several hours a day. If your dog has severe separation anxiety or has destructive habits like chewing items, walls, furniture, etc, this might not be the best option for you. On the other hand, if your dog has no separation issues and is quite calm and happy in his own space this might just be perfect. Always have a new pet sitter come for a meet and greet prior to your trip…just to make sure their personality and Fido’s are a match.  Visit to find a pet sitter or to find out if your pet sitter belongs to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. Or, visit to find a boarding facility that is part of the Pet Care Services Association.  There is nothing better than having the peace of mind that your pet is safe and well cared for while you are enjoying your holidays. Best wishes on finding the most sensible solution for you and your pet and happy travel.

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