Summertime is vacation time for many families. Those with pets have a huge decision to make when they travel. What are pet parents going to do with their pets when they are gone? There are a few popular pet care options for your pets when traveling this summer, whether you leave Brevard County or leave the state of Florida entirely,
- Asking a Neighbor. Many people ask their neighbors to watch their pets while they are gone.
- Mobile Apps. Some apps will assist you in scheduling hobby pet sitters and walkers to check in with your pet.
- Kennel Facilities. Some dogs and cats do best when boarded at a commercial kennel facility.
- Professional Pet Sitters. You can hire a professional pet sitter to care for your canine or feline family members in your home while you are away.
Let’s go over the pros and cons of each of these options.
Asking a Neighbor to Pet Sit
Perhaps the most accessible and economical thing to do when you go on vacation is to ask your neighbor if it would be okay if they watched your pet while you were gone. It seems like a great idea. Hopefully, if they are your neighbor, you know them and they know you and your pet. They could pop over during the day and check in on the pet, let the dog out in the backyard to play and do his or her business. They would be able to walk and feed them.
Perhaps you can return the favor to your neighbor and watch their pet when they vacation so neither party must pay for the pet care. But, how well do you really know your neighbor?
- Are they trustworthy to feed your pet at the scheduled times you requested?
- Will they take the time to care for your dog during the day or ignore them if they get too busy?
- Do they agree to watch your pet because they don’t know how to say “no”?
- If you leave your pet at your neighbors, will your pet get along with theirs?
No one is as committed to your pets as you are. You know the tricks to get your pup to go outside and do his business. You do not want your pet to be watched by anyone else that would consider the task to be a burden.
Using an App to Schedule Pet Service
Today there seems to be an app on your smartphone for nearly anything you could imagine. You can get a ride. Groceries can be delivered. Food brought right to your front door. Rooms can be rented. You can even schedule a pet sitter to check on your dog while you are gone.
An app like Rover.com provides services like dog boarding, cat sitting, house sitting, dog walking, daycare, and drop-in visits at the click of a button. Companies like Rover say they thoroughly vet their sitters; however, background checks can be passed but are not mandatory. Some sitters provide detailed profiles and personal information. The technical support staff approves the pending sitters, and then you are on your own to ensure you find a great match. It is similar to popular dating sites – proceed with caution! They are merely an online platform to connect buyers & sellers with no recourse to them should the pairing go wrong because they are not employees.
There is a convenience in this type of service. The apps are simple enough for almost anyone to use and don’t cost the user anything. No matter how well the company vets its independent contractors (spoiler alert – not much goes into this step), the pet owner is still letting a stranger into their home. You may find yourself wondering things such as:
- How many other clients is the side gig contractor trying to squeeze in for a day?
- Will your pet get the care and time that it needs before they leave for their next job?
- What happens if your pet is lost or gets sick?
- Will that person treat your dog, or you as a customer, with care?
- Will the hobby sitter still be on the site the next time you need care?
You don’t know who is looking after your pet from just the information found online. Everyone is different, and you must do your homework to ask for the proper documentation to provide you peace of mind. You also want to be sure you protect yourself and your pets from liability, so it’s essential you choose a provider that is bonded, insured & has all the necessary protections in place for you, your pets and your home. These online platforms provide little, if any, actual protection to you as the pet parent should anything go wrong during your time away. Just Google lost or injured pets from pet sitting app and you will find many, many of these tragic stories.
Boarding Your Pet in a Kennel
Kennels are the traditional place to board pets when people go on vacation. They provide safe and reasonably comfortable accommodations for your dog or cat along with many other pets in a relatively small space. Reputable kennels will provide nutritious food and proper exercise for the pet. They will have comfortable places for the pet to sleep and may even encourage socialization between pets, if possible.
The staff at kennels understand the care needed for pets that are boarded with them. They give them care and attention while you are away. The pets will be given a routine that will ease their temporary transition in an unfamiliar environment. Finding the right kennel for your pet is essential. You will want to ask questions and make sure to visit each facility before deciding which one to use. Ask things such as:
- What hours is the facility staffed each day?
- What is the ratio of staff to pets? This will be especially important if you are boarding your dog because they will likely be engaging in group play.
- Does the kennel offer plenty of room for them to get their exercise? How often does this occur?
- Is there a vet on staff? How do pets get medical treatment when necessary?
- How many incidents have occurred at the facility that resulted in injury?
- How often and what methods are used to clean the kennel facilities?
Even with all the above questions answered, your pet will never be as comfortable in a kennel as they are in their home. The stress of being left at the kennel may give the pet undue stress. This is especially important for pets that are not used to being in a crate. Some dogs happily spend their day living in their ‘safe place’ while others may enjoy running around outdoors all day and not do well when locked inside for long periods. There are luxury boarding facilities that provide more crate-free time for your pet. However, these perks can add up. Luxury kennels with lots of one-on-one attention, plush bedding, and play areas can be very expensive and hard to find.
Boarding at the kennel can also introduce your pet to various illnesses. Kennel cough is the most commonly passed illness in commercial facilities. This highly infectious illness is not restricted to just the kennel, of course, but having many dogs in one place increases the odds that it can get passed around more easily. Finally, given the number of pets in a typical kennel and the limited number of staff members at any given time, your pets may not be getting the amount of attention that you would like for them to receive.
Hiring a Professional Pet Sitting Service
Leaving your pet at home is an optimal choice when you go on vacation. The familiar setting that they are used to is a comfort for the pet. Therefore, a professional pet sitter is a great option.
Pets that have anxiety do well with the services of a professional pet sitter or dog walker. Although some pet parents want to include their pets in their travel plans, the stress of leaving home for long periods with their owner might be too much for the pet to endure. It’s also hard to find a wide selection of pet-friendly vacation accommodations in some places. Having a professional pet sitter that comes to your home is also an advantage as they can watch over the property while you are away and, in some cases, perform light home duties like picking up the mail, etc. Space Coast Pet Services includes all House Sitting services at no additional charge with each Home Visit they complete – that is a value that is hard to beat!
Pets also have the advantage of being able to stay on their usual routine of sleeping, feeding, and exercise when a professional pet care provider is hired. Sticking with a schedule that a pet is familiar with is key to keeping them calm while you are away. Having a new person come into your home can be challenging for pets as this person is a stranger to them, and they are not used to this. A reliable pet sitter will take the time to get to know your pet before you go on the trip. We do this during the Meet and Greet, a 30-minute free consultation to ensure we are a great fit and have your pets get to know us (and smell us!). And, if you are hiring an established company, they will have online booking software for you to use to schedule services like the online apps, except you know exactly who you are dealing with directly! What could be better than a quick, efficient, caring, and trustworthy service on time, every time?! Nothing!!
Before hiring a professional pet care service, here are some questions to ask:
- Are you registered with the state, bonded & insured?
- Are all staff members pet first aid/CPR trained?
- Do you have employees or independent contractors? (If the answer is IC – that is a red flag for further questions!)
- How do you access my home and ensure it is secured when leaving?
- How long do you spend with my pet?
- How will I know that things are going well while I am away?
- What happens if my pet gets sick while in your care?
At Space Coast Pet Services, we would love to take care of your pets while you are away. Not only do we care for dogs and cats, but we also have experience with birds, fish, and other aquatics, reptiles, and more! Our team of dedicated professionals wants you to enjoy your time away without worry or stress. Contact us to book your services and leave your furry family members in loving and caring hands while on your next vacation! Remember, holiday weeks are our busiest times, so make sure you secure your pet care early!
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. In 2016 she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for pet care – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR and committed to ongoing training and education. She leads a team with diverse backgrounds from working at the Brevard Zoo, Vet Techs, volunteers of the SPCA & Humane Society, and students of Biological Oceanography. Melanie is the mother of two amazing humans, two small pups and a witty African Grey parrot and enjoys volunteering, reading, swimming, hiking, traveling, grilled cheese sandwiches, and naps. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This small amount allows me to bring you resources that I use and believe in.