That first time you travel without your pet can be a traumatic experience for both you and them. That’s why it’s so important to develop a relationship with a boarding facility or pet sitter. Today, we’re looking at how to find the best option for your pet.
Pet Sitters are those who come to your home one or more times per day (or perhaps even stay overnight in your home up to 18 hours at a time) to watch your pets. This is an excellent option for those with cats, nervous dogs, senior pets, or pets with medical conditions.
Boarding facilities are places you take your pet, where they reside in a kennel until your return. Their fees generally include playtime each day, regular feeding, and more. They can generally administer most veterinarian-approved medication, but may not always be able to accommodate specific diets.
No matter which option you choose, there are general guidelines that you should follow to find the best sitter or boarding facility for your pets.
Ask for Referrals
Your friends and family are often a great source for finding a reliable pet sitter or boarding facility. Ask who they have used in the past and whether they would recommend them.
Verify that any caretaker is licensed and bonded. Every pet sitter should be bonded for damage or theft, and each boarding facility should be licensed as a kennel. Both sitters and boarding facilities should be fully insured.
Check Credentials and References
Always check credentials and references provided by the kennel. You can easily search out complaints by typing in “name of kennel + complaint” into Google (e.g., Crazy8Kennel + complaint”)
Any reputable pet sitter will have reviews on Yelp, Facebook, the BBB website, their own website, and any number of other locations. Read them all and make sure there are no problems with the sitter or boarding facility.
Initial Meet and Greets
Once you have decided on a few possibilities for boarding, be sure to tour the facility. The same holds true for finding a pet sitter. All pet sitters include an initial meet and greet, which gives them an opportunity to meet your pets, pick up keys, and learn your routines. These generally last about an hour and always take place prior to your leaving town. Be very wary of any pet sitters who don’t provide this service, particularly if you found them online.
Each pet is different and you may discover that some of your pets do better with a sitter while others enjoy a boarding facility.
Be sure the boarding facility you choose has cameras installed. In this day and age, there is almost no reason for them not to have them. Facilities should allow you access to a network where you can log in and check on your pets throughout the day, if you choose.
You can also add security cameras to your own home to make sure your pets are doing well with the pet sitter you select. Most pet sitter contracts require that, particularly if they will be living at your home. Even if their contract does not require you to notify them, be fair to the sitter and let them know that they are installed.
Another option is to choose a GPS tracker for your pets in case they escape or are otherwise lost. These are excellent to have while pet sitters or dog walkers are at your home. Most not only track your dog, but provide health information.
Keep in mind that not all boarding facilities allow you to leave them on the dog, particularly during playtime, as they can be a hazard.
General Rules of Leaving Pets
- Never leave pets in care of friends or family.
- Make sure facility and/or pet sitter is licensed and bonded.
- Choose one according to your dog’s personality.
- Never leave cats alone.
- If they don’t require vaccination records from you, they won’t require them for others either. This can put your pets at risk for disease.
PetsWeekly offers a helpful list of questions you should ask prior to selecting a boarding facility. We’ve received permission to share them here.
Pay attention to the following while you tour the facility:
- Does the facility look clean and well-maintained?
- Does the facility smell clean?
- What is the temperature in the kennels?
- Is there adequate ventilation indoors?
- How does the staff treat and interact with the animals there?
- Does the facility ask for vaccination records?
- Is there a requirement for pets to have Bordetella (Kennel Cough) vaccine?
- Do you see any evidence of fleas or ticks or other parasites?
- Do the dogs and cats seem happy?
- Are outdoor runs protected from the elements?
- Are the indoor kennels large enough?
Things to ask the facility manager:
- Do they have an emergency plan in place in case of natural disaster, fire or power failure?
- Is at least one human on location 24/7?
- Are cats and dogs housed separately?
- What type of training does staff have?
- Is a veterinarian on call and what is his/her name?
Once you establish a relationship with a boarding facility or pet sitter you like, maintain the relationship. It can be difficult to find reliable pet sitters and boarding for your pets that are trustworthy and reliable, so keep them close to you!