By Brigid Wasson, Good Dogs Pet Sitting
1) Plan ahead. Professional pet sitters and boarding kennels book months in advance, especially around holidays and other popular travel times. Call in advance, even if your dates are not solid, so your pet care provider can “pencil them in” to the schedule. Most companies do not charge a cancellation fee with adequate notice (ask before booking). At Good Dogs, we start booking for Christmas/New Year’s in late August, so that gives you an idea of the lead time needed. Do not wait until the last minute or you will be left scrambling to find coverage.
2) Stock up. The days before vacation are hectic and things can be forgotten. Give yourself plenty of time to buy pet foods, medications, treats, pee pads, and whatever else your animals will need while you are away. Your pet sitter won’t have time to shop for you and may not be able to find the exact items you need.
3) Notify your veterinarian. Pet sitters and boarding kennels will take your animal to the vet (or call the vet out, in the case of large animals) in emergency situations; however, there can be a delay in care if you can’t be reached. Many vet hospitals have a form that you can fill out ahead of time to notify them of the dates of your vacation and the name and contact info of your pet care provider. Leave a credit card on file or make other billing arrangements with your pet hospital, including a maximum amount of charges to be run up if you can’t be reached.
4) Communicate. The way you care for your animals may be the way you’ve always done it, but understand that everyone does things differently. Don’t assume that your pet care provider knows what you want without clearly communicating your instructions. At Good Dogs, we have standard forms but we love essays! The more information provided, the better. If we’re not sure about something, we’ll ask, and if you’re not sure, please ask.
5) Identification. Good Dogs works with the nonprofit Missing Pet Partnership, so we are very aware of the number of pets that go missing every year. Many pets go missing during travel times, whether they accompany their owners or are left at home or at a kennel. Well before you leave, make sure all your pets are microchipped and that the chips are currently registered (we’re happy to explain this process to you by phone). Indoor cats can and do go missing, so they too must have identification. Dogs should be wearing collars at all times with ID tags, plates, or embroidery including at least two phone numbers.
Follow these tips to have a stress-free vacation, knowing your pets are being well cared for.