If you need to travel for an extended period, but you have a pet, you may be wondering what your options are. Pet boarding and pet sitting are popular solutions for dog and cat owners, but which should you choose?
Pet boarding is the most common option chosen by pet owners who do not want to leave their pets alone at home. It has something of an undeserved bad reputation at the moment, because of images of steel runs, concrete kennels, and clinical plastic cages. Today, that has changed, and pet boarding tends to take place in fun ‘pet hotels’ with rather nice amenities.
These days, your beloved dog can lounge in a cozy cot and play on a plexi-glass run, watching Dog-friendly TV. There are pet-safe pools, massage spas, and supervised doggy play dates. Cats can play with lasers or catnip, and then lounge in a relaxing environment with plush perches, a CCTV ‘fish tank’ and the sounds of the great outdoors. There are even pet shuttles to take your pet to the hotel, and then back home again once you’re back from your own travels. Your pet’s holiday could end up being even more fun than yours!
Pet sitting is a relatively new concept, and it’s more high-end in some ways because it involves the dogs and cats being entertained in the homes of the sitters, rather than in the boarding house. This means that there are more challenges since the dogs and cats will need one on one attention. You’ll find this kind of social boarding is more common with dogs (that tend to be quite sociable), than it is for cats.
Boarding alternatives can vary massively when it comes to price, depending on the level of service that you are looking for. If your dog needs a lot of one on one attention then they will want add-ons that will increase the price. Those who just need to be fed, walked and a little supervision during play are considered pretty low maintenance and will be happy even with lower-end sitting services.
If you are worried about your pet’s health, or they have complex needs, then you might want them to stay in a veterinary facility that offers boarding services. This can be a good choice in some cases, but it is more of a sterile environment, and the people providing the care to the dogs and cats tend to be over-worked and focusing more on the surgical cases and those with medical needs. Unless your pet actually needs medical attention, you probably will find that they will have a better time, and be better looked after, in a non-veterinary boarding facility.
Remember that your pet is likely to be quite stressed out while you are away from home. Cats dislike being outside of their normal environment and dogs will miss you too. Fear and timidity are common, and you might notice that your pet loses weight during its stay. There may be some risk of self-injury if they find themselves very nervous or scared, and altercations with other stressed out pets can happen even in a good, responsible boarding facility.
Pet Sitting Services
For this reason, a lot of people opt for pet sitting instead of boarding. Pet sitting can vary from a sitter that visits your home while you are away to feed and walk the pet and attend to other biological functions, or ones that will actually live in your home to provide companionship.
Pet sitting can vary in cost but tends to be around the same as boarding, although pet sitters tend not to charge for amenities. Pets are usually much happier in their own homes so the ‘added extras’ that come with boarding are usually unnecessary. Feeding a live-in sitter might be an extra expense, but it is still usually less than you would pay for a proper boarding facility.
Some pets, especially clingy ones, can become stressed when they are in their own home because they miss you and your family. The signs of stress that are seen during in-home sitting are usually far milder than the ones you would see in a boarding facility because the environment is more relaxing.
Pet sitting has other benefits, too. The sitter will act as a deterrent and stop the ’empty home’ signals such as a build-up of mail and news that would normally attract potential burglars. A live-in sitter makes your home look occupied, because it is, albeit by a different person to normal.
Many pet sitters are happy to offer other services such as watering the plants, for only a nominal fee. A live-in sitter will be caring for your pet, and yours alone, so they will be more likely to spot signs of ill health should your pet fall unwell, and you can be confident that your pet will see a vet in a timely fashion. You have less to worry about in terms of anxiety and separation stress too.
A company such as Animals at Home can help with almost every aspect of owning a pet, including housesitting, pet boarding, and when the sad time comes, pet cremation.