Choosing pet care that’s right for you and your pet – Care. com


We want to be there whenever our pets need us, but that isn’t always possible. Vacations, work obligations and other life events can take us places our pets can’t go, so it’s important to always have a backup pet care plan.

From hiring a pet sitter or using a kennel to enlisting a trusted friend or neighbour, there are so many options available these days that making a choice can be overwhelming, especially when there are so many things to consider, such as cost.

To help you decide, we’ve compiled important information about several popular pet care options. Pick which one works for you so you’re ready the next time you need it.

Hire a dog walker or pet sitter

It’s easy to understand why having someone come in the middle of the day to walk the dog or feed the cat, give them water and keep them company is the obvious first choice for many pet owners. The only consideration  here is the person caring for them, and many pets and their owners can appreciate that.

As you probably know, in general, dogs and cats thrive on predictability and routine. The more consistent you can be with your care providers and daily schedule the better your dogs and cats will feel.

This option is good for: Pets on a regular schedule that you’d rather not deviate from or owners who would prefer not to transport their dog to a facility.

Things to consider: If you are asking someone to come to your home, you have to trust your pet and home with a stranger. Do your research and a thorough interview before giving someone the keys. It’s a good idea to check for pet-sitting certifications, get referrals, do a background check   and check the Pet Sitters International (PSI) to see if they are in good standing.

Things to avoid: If consistency is something your pet requires, try to find someone good and stick with them. Dogs with underlying behaviour issues (such as anxiety or fear) will do much better with known caregivers than a rotating schedule of strangers. In addition , you as the pet owner will know what to expect from the care provider as well.

Potential cost: Prices for this service will vary depending on where you live, but generally you can pay someone around $15 for an hour-long dog stroll. Most dog walkers charge an increased fee to come more than once a day. Pet caregivers who come to your home to care for your cats may also cost by the hour or by the job depending on the type of care needed (feeding, brushing, administering medication, and extended play with your cat, etc . ) Additionally , most pet caregivers will charge more if you have multiple animals they need to care for.

Take your family pet to doggy or kitty daycare

You may choose to take your pet to a daycare facility, which, like the version for children, is a place where your pet (mostly dogs, yet sometimes cats) can safely play all day.

Dog daycare providers can help you meet your own dog’s needs for attention, activity, and supervision. They provide a great antidote for bored, lonely, or high-energy dogs with busy guardians that work away from home all day and don’t want to leave their dogs alone. Daycare isn’t for everybody—or every dog—but if yours enjoys playing and socializing with other canines, it can be a great option for your home-alone pal.

Some daycare centres cater to cats along with other small animals  and offer overnight boarding as well. Just be sure you are satisfied with the safety and security, as well as the feeding and exercise regime available to the various pets.

This option is good for: Healthy, spayed or neutered, plus well-socialized dogs who really enjoy people and other dogs and seek interaction with them at every opportunity. Young dogs often adjust to the daycare environment better than older ones. If your dog is a regular at dog parks, and they play a lot and enjoy themselves there, then daycares are probably ideal for them.

Things to consider: Not all daycares are created equal. If you’re considering taking your pet to a daycare, make sure the staff there are knowledgeable plus professional, and that the service ensures the welfare and safety of the pets in their care. Ask what the daycare’s protocol is in the event associated with emergency illness or injury and about their vaccination policies and flea-prevention plan.

Things to avoid: Daycares that are overcrowded. Each dog should have adequate space available to them within the premises—this can include inside and outside area. And daycares that prohibit dog guardians from visiting their dog at any time are not recommended. Also, dogs should never be left unattended. If a second person is not available at all times for backup, the daycare should have arrangements for another employee to arrive quickly if an emergency requires the regular attendant to leave.

Potential cost: Most daycare centres charge between $40 and $50 a day (depending on where you live) and allow you to drop off your dog from around 7: 30 am and pick them up in the late afternoon/early evening. Many doggy daycare centres also  offer overnight plus weekend sitting for when you go away on holiday, which can be convenient since your dog is already comfortable with the place and the people.

Take your pet to a licensed in-home pet sitter

You can connect with licensed in-home pet sitters through various websites and many of them offer services that can help your pet feel at home even though they’re in the company of someone else in another home.

It provides family-like companionship while you’re away. Often , the pet sitter and their family are viewed as an extended family for your pet. In addition to this companionship, in-home boarding reduces the time that your pet is alone or isolated like they would be if boarded in a kennel or even if you hire a traditional home-visit pet sitter.

How do you pick the right sitter for your dog? To start, there are several certifications that a pet sitter can hold.

Some of them are very specialized, which is great for pets with particular medical needs, and others are more general. To give you an idea, PIJAC Canada has a pet care training program , ranging from canine and feline nutrition, housing and hygiene to care of baby animals. They offer a business-related course in order to encourage pet businesses to be run ethically and correctly.

This option is good for: Pets that do better in a home setting versus a kennel or doggy daycare.

Things to consider: The first thing to consider when choosing an in-home pet boarder is to ensure that the provider will be appropriately licensed to do in home boarding and carries the proper certifications and insurance. Make sure the home is safe, clean, and has a fenced yard. If the sitter has other domestic pets or children in the home, you should consider doing a meet-and-greet to familiarize your pet with them, especially if your pet is not used to having other animals or children around. We also recommend checking references and reviews of your potential pet sitter.

Things to avoid: If a potential sitter has a schedule that deviates from your pet’s usual routine, it might not be a good fit. For example , will they plan on being away from home for extended periods of time? If so, your pet could become anxious being left alone in an unfamiliar environment.

Potential cost: Prices for in-home pet sitting will vary but are typically close to $25 per night. The number of pets being cared for plus special services like providing medications will likely increase that price.

Take your pet to vet boarding or a kennel

Kennels provide boarding services (and sometimes daycare and grooming services) for the day or for extended periods of time. Many vets will also provide the same service. Since a vet’s kennel houses both sick plus healthy animals, make sure you check with the vet about how the particular boarding accommodations are handled.

Find out how much time, if any, your pet will be allowed out of their primary enclosure each day. Some kennels have indoor runs, some have outdoor runs, and some have no runs at all. Keep in mind that an austere kennel in a busy veterinary office can be a very stressful atmosphere. However , having an animal doctor on site has undeniable advantages.

This method is good for: Veterinary kennels are helpful for animals that may require vet supervision. Standard kennels are typically quite affordable.

Things to consider: Both types of kennels can be loud, bustling places. Visiting the kennel is critical since some kennels can be quite noisy (i. e., barking, hoovers, dogs playing). Additionally , some kennels may not have indoor/outdoor runs, so your pup could spend a lot of time in a run with only brief trips outside. Kennels are also places where animals can catch viruses and/or illnesses, so make sure there’s a vaccination policy in place (which includes dog flu vaccines, etc . ) so that all pets are best protected during their stay.

Things to avoid: If anxiety is an issue for your pet, the kennel might not be the right fit. If the pet is used in order to living in a quiet house, this can have an effect on the dog’s well-being during their stay.

Potential cost: Prices for kennels usually cost around $25 a night, but that rate can change if you purchase add-ons. Some kennels have à la carte offerings, which can be beneficial to the animal, but mean that what appears to be a reasonably priced nightly rate can end up being quite expensive.

Ask someone to pet sit in your home

Knowing that a trusted friend or neighbour is caring for your animal at your home—whether it’s for just a day or a few days—can really put your mind at ease. In-home family pet care is wonderful since the pet is in their familiar environment. Generally, this works well for cats who don’t have intense care needs or dogs who are safely left at home when you’re not presently there.

Still, it’s always good to think about how your pet will react to having someone not normally there inside your home. It is not necessarily a good idea if your dog is not comfortable with new people entering the home, especially when you are not present.

This option is good for: Pet parents who’d rather have their pet cared for by someone in their own home—and would potentially like to save a little cash!

Things to consider: How well do you know the person sitting for you? It is still important to choose wisely given that you’re asking someone to come into your home. That means selecting a responsible, conscientious sitter who will do the job right. Some people do put up cameras or ask neighbours to watch the home as an additional means of ensuring that their household pets and home are safe.

Things to avoid: It’s not a great idea to use a new pet sitter without an introduction before you go away. Trial runs are highly recommended to ensure that the pet will accept the pet sitter. You do not want to find out that your dog will not go outside to relieve themselves after you have left the country on holiday.

Potential price: You could save a little money on pet care if a friend or even neighbour will care for your pet for free or at a low cost to you—and it’s always nice to thank a person working pro bono with a present when you return!

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