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Care Options When You Can't Take Your Pet With You

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Care options when you cant take them with you.

Need to leave your pet for a short period of time? Boost her comfort and serenity with proper care while you're gone. Which care option is right for your situation? First you must decide whether you want someone to visit your home or whether you want to board your pet elsewhere. Then, the choice will come down to who you want caring for your pet.

Weigh your options:

In-Home Care
Do you want someone to stay in your home all the time, or will it suffice to have him/her visit one to three times a day to feed, water, exercise, and spend some time with your pet? This will probably depend on your pet's temperament and whether you want someone to be in your home while you're away.

Friends, Neighbors, or Family

  • Pros: Reliable (typically) and inexpensive or free (although it's courteous to bring back a souvenir or present from your trip).
  • Cons: If your sitter is not reliable, you usually have no recourse - after all, he/she is a family member or friend.
  • Tip: Make sure whomever you pick has experience with your pet and knows what to expect.

Professional Pet Sitter
You can ask friends, coworkers, or your veterinarian for suggestions. Or, search the internet or look in your Yellow Pages for "Pet Sitters"

  • Pros: Pet sitters usually have references from satisfied clients and are insured. They also usually have experience with lots of different animals.
  • Cons: Some will not stay in your home and if you want your pet to go out more than twice a day, they can be expensive.
  • Tip: Since you are inviting a stranger into your home, make sure you get reliable references.

Veterinary Staff or Students
Ask your veterinarian's office if they have someone on staff who will visit or stay at your home.

  • Pros: Experience, love of animals, and someone you know. And, if your pet should get sick, these people will know what to do.
  • Cons: Usually booked far in advance.
  • Tip: Ask for references.

Boarding Your Pet Elsewhere
Will your pet be comfortable staying in a strange place for a considerable amount of time?

Veterinarian's Office
Many veterinarians have facilities for boarding.

  • Pros: Your pet will be able to get medical care when she needs it and will be with experienced, caring animal caregivers.
  • Cons: Your pet will probably be in a kennel most of the day and a veterinarian's office is often busy.
  • Tip: Ask if your veterinarian has someone who stays or checks on the animals at night.

Boarding Kennel
Options range from simple to downright luxurious. We know of one California "spa" that offers a Jacuzzi-like warm water bath for dogs!

  • Pros: Experience, on-site care, and socialization with other pets, if you choose.
  • Cons: Can range from inexpensive to very expensive and your pet needs proof of vaccinations.
  • Tip: See the facility before you decide to board your pet - make sure it's clean, welcoming, and offers the amenities you want for your pet.

Kennel-less Boarding Services
These businesses hire people to take your pet into their home and treat her as their family member.

  • Pros: Your pet will be in a home-like environment with a person that loves animals.
  • Cons: These can be expensive.
  • Tip: Ask for references and to see where your pet will be staying.

Costs will vary with each of these options, depending on your geographical area. Make sure you do your homework and leave thorough instructions, including medications, feeding, and potty times. Bring your own food. If you treat choosing a boarding facility as you would choosing a daycare for your child, you can't go wrong. After all, pets are family.

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