Pet Care Options for When You’re Away from Home

traveling

Vacation. Long work hours. Emergencies. When they happen, who takes care of your dog or cat? Should you call a friend, board your pet, or hire a sitter? What’s your preference? How do you decide? There are pros and cons to all.

Note that the pricing of services varies by location. I’ve researched businesses in several major cities across the country. In most cases, the variances are minimal.

Friends/Family

This is my favorite of all pet care options. Our friend, who lives a block away, takes care of our babes while we’re away. He comes twice a day, feeds them, and hangs out for a while. Our pets remain in the comfort of their own space while someone familiar takes care of them. This comes with the added benefit of someone watching our home.

Aside from a bottle of wine, growler of beer, or souvenir, this probably won’t cost you anything. Of course, you can always kick down a little cash if you think it’s appropriate.

Pet Sitters

My second favorite option. Again, your babes have the comfort of home. The big difference here is price. It’ll cost a bit more than a souvenir. In general, pet sitters charge $10-$20 per hour for drop in visits (feeding, poop cleanup, medicine administration) and walks. Overnight stays can run anywhere from $40-$60 per night. Like boarding, prices vary depending on location as well as the number and type of pets.

The ticket is to find someone trustworthy. Platforms such as Rover, Care, and Sittercity can hook you up with reputable sitters within your community. You can also go word-of-mouth. Ask friends, family, or your pet’s veterinarian for a recommendation.

Whatever you do, take time for an interview/meeting. Be clear about what you expect of your sitter and what they expect of you. Go over pricing and services. Discuss plan B’s in case of emergencies on either end. Plenty of sitters do the job not just to make a living, but also because they love animals. They are the ones you want caring for your pets.

This is what we’ll be doing when we take our two-week trip to Ireland. Our friend probably wouldn’t mind the task, but two weeks is a long time to lay on someone who has their own life and work.

Boarding

My least favorite option. I think it’s only okay for one or two days, max. I have several reasons for disliking boarding. Pets are in a strange place, with strange people and animals. They’re broken from their routines and stuck in small spaces with too little exercise. It wouldn’t be so bad if we had a way to communicate with our pets that it’s temporary. But, they don’t know if or when they’ll see their humans again. I imagine this being especially difficult for former shelter pets.

Boarding costs more than sitters do. Some charge small flat rates for the space alone. They add fees for everything else including daily feeding, exercise, treats, and medicine administration. Others charge a high flat fee that includes all the extras. For cats and small dogs, prices begin at $20-$30 per night (without extras) and $50 (with extras) and climb from there.

They typically let pets out of their cages or closets twice per day for fifteen minutes. No matter how nice the facilities, most of these “resorts” do add up to rows of cages and closets. This is why I am not a fan of these for long periods.

An upside is the 24/7 monitoring. Some even have webcams so you can see your babes from wherever you are.

Each facility has rules about which medications they’ll administer, vaccines they require, and types of animals they’ll take.

No matter what type of care you choose for your pets, don’t look into it last-minute. Do research, schedule visits and interviews, and make sure your caregiver has your pet’s best interest at heart.