With Christmas right around the corner, we think of spending time with friends and relatives. That may involve traveling next door, to a neighboring town or across the country. Packing up all the clothes and the presents and the other things needed when staying away from home can certainly be a hassle, especially when you realize you forgot your favorite toothpaste and Aunt Bessie only has that nasty baking soda stuff. In the midst of all the planning, pet owners also need to make decisions on what they will do with their four-legged family members in this traveling season.
Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to be able to bring your pet with you. If you are staying with someone, it is important to remember that your pet won’t necessarily understand that this is a fun vacation. Some pets, especially cats, can be very stressed in unfamiliar surroundings. It helps if you bring your pet’s own food (they can get diarrhea with sudden diet changes), familiar toys and even a special bed or blanket. If the people you are staying with have pets already, it is important to make sure that they will get along or at least tolerate each other. Nothing’s worse than having to spend Christmas day at the emergency veterinary hospital because Fluffy and Molly got into a fight. If there will be a lot of people around, keep an eye on your pet to make sure he is not overwhelmed. If you find he wants to hide or seems like he is afraid, take him into a quiet place and sit with him for a while. He may be more comfortable staying away until it is calmer in the house.
Many times, our pets cannot accompany us during our travels. If this is the case, you can use the services of a pet-sitter or a kennel. Pet sitters will come into your home (the frequency of visits is something you will have to decide on), feed, water, change litterboxes, walk dogs, etc. One of the advantages is that someone will be at your house during the day to check on it and make it look like someone is home. Also, many pets, especially cats, are much happier being left in their own environment. Many pet sitters are bonded and insured. If you are leery of having a stranger be in your home, ask around for personal references.
Many people choose to leave their pets at a boarding kennel. The best way to research kennels is to get recommendations and then pay them a visit. Ask to see the area where the animals are kept — they may not let you directly inside, but you should at least be able to look at it. Most kennels require that the pet be current on their distemper and rabies vaccinations. Dogs usually need to be vaccinated for bordetella (“kennel cough”) as well. Even if they don’t require it, we highly recommend having it done. Kennels will generally provide food, but if your pet has special dietary needs or is picky, you may want to bring his own food. This can also prevent diarrhea. While being in a strange place can be stressful for a pet, they usually quickly get used to the routine and soon know when feeding and walking times are and begin looking forward to them. Whether using a pet sitter or a kennel, be sure to leave emergency numbers, including your vet’s, with them.
We here at Blairstown Animal Hospital wish you a joyous Holiday season and a Happy New Year!