27 Jun

We can’t always take our pets with us when we travel. But you can make your time away easier on your pet with these tips. Photo credit: John Bell, https://flic.kr/p/6xoCAW

We just can’t take our pets everywhere with us. (As much as we would like to.)

Many hotels still aren’t pet friendly. And you don’t want to leave your pet stuck in the hotel room while you’re out and about, anyway. Not to mention – some pets just don’t travel well. Especially cats.

You’ve found a great pet sitter. (If you haven’t, we have a list of tips here to help you search for someone. The linked article is about dog walkers, but most of the tips apply just as well to pet sitters.)

But how do you prepare to leave your dog or cat alone for the first time while you go on vacation or a work trip?

We’ve put together our tips in order of when you should start planning, starting from weeks before your trip to how you should handle your depature as you’re walking out of the door.

At Least One Month Before You Leave

Get Your Dog Trained

Wait, this is an article about pet sitting. Why are we talking about dog training?

Because a well-trained dog makes everyone happier. You’ll have an easier time finding a pet sitter willing to take you on as a client. Your dog will get to enjoy longer walks if the pet sitter isn’t worried about your dog pulling away. And your house is less likely to be destroyed in between pet sitter visits.

Check With Your Veterinarian

Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date in case an emergency comes up and your pet sitter needs to take your pet somewhere.

However, don’t get your pet’s vaccinations done just before your trip. Your pet may develop a reaction to the vaccine either right before you leave or while you’re gone. Yes, this can happen even if your pet has never had an issue before.

1 – 2 Weeks Before Your Trip

Schedule a Meet-and-Greet

A professional pet sitter will want to meet you and your pets before your trip begins.

This meet-and-greet is the perfect time to discuss your pet’s daily routine and any peculiarities – and to make sure your pet gets along with the sitter.

Prepare Detailed Instructions

Let your pet sitter know exactly what your dog or cat’s day is like. Even though you may have already gone over these instructions with your pet sitter during the meet-and-greet, you’ll want to leave them in writing, too.

  • How much (and what) food your pet eats
  • Any allergies or sensitivities
  • When you feed your pet
  • When and how often you walk your dogs
  • What collar or leash your dog wears for walks
  • Where you store booties or paw protection for walks on snow/ice or hot pavement
  • Where you walk your dog and what places you avoid
  • Where you keep medications and how to give them
  • If your pet has any fears (such as storms, fireworks, or police sirens)

Complicated Feeding Instructions? Try This

If your dog or cat gets multiple foods each feeding, needs a lot of pills, or is overweight and on a very specific diet, you can make sure your pet gets exactly what they need while they’re gone by pre-measuring food for the days you’re gone.

Just take plastic baggies or food storage containers, fill them with the appropriate meals, and label the containers with the days and times the meals are to be fed.

Buy Plenty of Food

Stock your pet’s food and treats (with plenty extra in case your trip is delayed). This includes litter if you have a cat.

Don’t change your pet’s food right before your trip – this combined with anxiety over your leaving may result in serious stomach upsets.

Other items you should consider having extra around include:

  • Leash and collar – you never know when your dog is going to chew through his current one.
  • Medications or supplements if your pet takes them. Again, if your trip takes longer than you planned, you won’t have to panic over whether or not your current supply can last until you get back – it’s bad enough you have to worry about fresh underwear for your whole trip.
  • Extra water – you want your pet to have plenty of fresh water while no one is home. Your pet sitter will be refilling the water during visits, but the extra water will be helpful if somehow your sitter is delayed.

Have Updated Tags

If somehow your dog or cat gets away from your pet sitter, proper identification will help you get them back.

Many people think cats don’t need collars, but this is exactly the reason why your cat should wear one. (It also helps people who see your cat know that she is a pet.)

A collar tag or plate is the bare minimum you need for your pets, but you should consider microchipping, too.

If your pets are already tagged and/or microchipped, make sure all of the information is up-to-date before you leave town.

The Day Before/Day You Leave

Leave a T-Shirt for Your Pet to Snuggle With

Even if your pet is staying at home with a pet sitter, they might feel more comfortable if they have an old t-shirt or other clothing item of yours around. You can leave the shirt on their bedding so your scent is right there with them.

Let There Be Sound

Is your household active and loud? Then you might want to leave a TV or some music on to give your pet background noise while you’re away.

(Be sure to let your pet sitter know, either in your written instructions or a quick text message, to keep the device on – that it wasn’t something you forgot to turn off.)

Walk Away Quietly

Your pet is used to your leaving. You go to work every day. Or at least take the kids to school or head out to run errands.

Act like this trip is every other day-to-day activity you walk out the door to do. Don’t get your pet excited. That will just leave your dog or cat feeling anxious once your gone.

Now Enjoy Your Trip!

Your pet and your pet sitter are as prepared as they can be. Go out and have fun.

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