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Top 5 Boarding Options for Your Pet

What to do with Pets while on Vacation



By Vanessa Voltolina


It may seem as though pets have a sixth sense when it comes to travel -- especially when they’re not invited! Kitty may cozy up to you the second suitcases are packed, or your dog may start looking depressed during the pre-vacation hustle and bustle. Before going away, one of the biggest decisions for pet owners is what to do with their pets. Here, there are five options for where to board your pet while you’re away.


1. Pet Sitting

Using a pet sitter is one way to fuse the personal with professional. Many cats and dogs feel comfortable in their own environments, so having an experienced pet sitter come by for feedings, walks and playtimes is a solid option. Decide whether you want a sitter to simply visit your home on a daily basis (or perhaps multiple times per day) to spend some QT with your pet, or have them stay in your home for the duration of your trip.


2. In-Home Pet Boarding

While enlisting a pet sitter is a good option, so is in-home pet boarding. In-home boarding involves you bringing your animals to a pet sitter’s home in your area before leaving on vacation. Whether to in-home board or hire a pet sitter to come to your home depends on the needs of your pet.


In-home boarding gives dogs the opportunity to socialize with other dogs under the supervision of a responsible pet owner, as well as individualized attention and more daily interaction. In-home boarding can be more affordable than pet sitters that come to the home, too, and there is the added security of not giving up your house keys. National services such as DogVacay.com and SleepoverRover.com allow you to search for pet sitters that offer in-home boarding near you.


3. Traditional Boarding (Dog Kennels/Catteries)

One standard option is placing pets in boarding kennels or catteries while you’re away. If this is your preferred choice, call ahead and arrange in advance and confirm that it has a Pet Care Services Association (PCSA) certification and the licensing of the caretakers.


If you have a cat, choose a boarding facility where cats do not come into contact with each other. As a pet parent, it’s important to search for boarding options that are feline-only. Cats do much better in this type of environment. Unless the cats are from the same family, they should not be put into a room with other unfamiliar cats. This is an important health and safety precaution to ensure that cats won’t fight or mate. Ask about a nice, large confinement area (aka a “kitty condo”) and that cats will have a litter box, toys and food puzzles, as well as a hiding place within the area. On the flips side, dogs are pack animals and sociable, so ensure that they will have enough activity time to play and run with other dogs. Find qualified boarding facilities by searching the International Boarding and Pet Services Association.


4. Family Friend/Neighbor

Good friends or neighbors go gaga every time they see your pet? Next time you take a vacation, consider asking them to stop in to feed and play with your four-legged family member. Of course, confirm that this person is responsible and knowledgeable about the basics of pet care. Be equally cautious if your dog is off-the-wall, or your cat has a history of marking “new territory,” as it may put a strain on your friendship. If this friend or neighbor is a pet owner, offer to return the favor someday, and consider bringing them back a small token from your trip as a thank you!


5. Take Them Along

It can be fun to travel with your pet in certain situations, and is becoming more feasible as the number of pet-friendly hotels grows. If an activity like camping is on the agenda, your canine may enjoy being with your family in the great outdoors. Double check that your vacation is pet-friendly, though, as many places, including parks and beaches, are known for “no dogs allowed” policies. But if your pet loves to travel, a pet-friendly vacation could be a nice change of pace. Search sites like Petswelcome.com and Officialpethotels.com to find establishments that love your pet as much as you do.


Image: hagit berkovich / via Shutterstock


Comments  6

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  • 07/26/2013 12:50pm

    As a long-time owner of a pet sitting business in Seattle, I'd like to suggest a couple of other resources for finding good pet sitters and in-home boarding. First, ask your your neighbors for recommendation. Word of mouth experience with a sitter is the best source. Or ask your vet for referrals. If they can't help, there are some good websites with zip code locators for the service you want. One of my favorites is www.PetSitUSA.com . Plug in your zip code and you'll see who is working in your area. You'll still need to do reference checks and make sure they have professional pet sitting insurance, but most of the people registered on that site will be professional sitters.

  • 07/29/2013 07:10am

    I have to agree with the other post. If seeking a "professional" pet sitter please visit one of the Professional Pet Sitting websites. Make sure the person you hire is insured for both taking care of your pet, taking care of your home, or for boarding the pet in their home! Not all pet sitting referrals sites are the same and some don't even ask or require a person to submit appropriate credentials. Just because someone is listed on the web, doesn't mean they are professional pet and home care people.

  • Boarding Kennel
    11/03/2014 02:37pm

    My husband and I wanted to go on a vacation to Europe this last summer. We have three dogs that we couldn't leave at home for the three weeks we would be gone. One of my friends suggested a boarding kennel. Our dogs seemed to have a good time!


  • Boarding Schools: Top 10
    12/02/2014 01:28am

    Earlier people think about the negativity of Boarding schools but now-a-days people are focusing on the importance and positivity of Boarding schools. Today, Parents are focusing on their jobs and feel unable to give best to their kids like discipline, honesty and hard-working. So, parents choose the residential and boarding schools for the best future of their kids. Boarding schools guarantee overshadows the mental stress that each the kid got to face. Instead, the boarding’s guarantee to form the kids inclined towards discipline, trust, honesty and relationship.

    Now, the question is that faculty ought to one opt for his/her ward? Ought to it’s the one connected well with their town or the one with better of facilities

  • New and growing trend
    01/17/2015 08:41am

    One option your readers might consider is a new and growing trend: free in-home pet sitting. Retirees, like my husband and I, travel the world caring for homes and pets for free in exchange for free accommodations.

    Pet owners benefit by not having to kennel/board their pets (especially anxious pets) and their home is safer since it’s lived in while they are on vacation/holiday. It’s a great solution especially for folks who are going to be gone for an extended period of time where a pet sitter would be cost prohibitive. Plus, the pets get to stay in their own environment and we follow each homeowner’s specific requirements regarding exercise, feeding, etc.

    We have done free in-home pet and house sitting from 2 weeks to 3 ½ months in the U.S., Spain, Australia, The Caribbean and soon Scotland and London. The upside to us is we get to travel the world without paying for hotels or lodging. The upside for the pet owner is they get to travel stress free knowing their much loved pet(s) is being cared for in the comfort of their own home. We put together some stories and insights about caring for pets around the world: www.retireespetsitforfree.com

  • Not a fan of boarding
    08/23/2016 09:26pm

    Every time I've boarded a cat, it's returned home with a URI, which I consider to be akin to kennel cough. The 3 cats I have now all came from a shelter, and I promised each that they would never again have to be in a cage. I don't even put them in a carrier to go to the vet. Just put them in the car and go, and I hold them while waiting for the doc. No problem.

    I boarded a dog once, and the people at the kennel said they were glad to see me upon my return, as my companion had not moved from the corner of the kennel, except to go potty, even though I had paid extra for a kennel with access to the outside.

    Your animal companions would love to have a GOOD sitter. Don't be cheap. Cats, especially, prefer to stay in their own home.

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