Your pet's vacation

At last, we are free to travel and to connect with new people. But what is the best choice for our pet's care while we relax? Here are some ideas to ensure that you and your pet have a great experience.

Boarding kennels are a tried and true resource when you must leave town without your dog or cat. A good boarding kennel should allow you to see where the pets will stay when you are gone. Dog runs that permit a pet to walk inside or outside as he wishes are my first choice. Some kennels have tiny indoor only dog runs, with many exercise opportunities where the pets are allowed to play together in a fenced yard. Dog owners must tell kennel operators if a dog does not play well with others; there may be additional fees for pets who may be exercised individually.

Kennel operators require current vaccines for rabies, kennel cough, and parvo; influenza vaccine is required only when this virus is active in the dog population. Please call us so we may email your pet's proof of vaccination to the kennel. We recommend that you keep a vaccine certificate for your pet with your personal papers in case emergency boarding in required. Some kennels don't accept unaltered pets, so please contact us at least two weeks before boarding if your pet must be neutered.

Even though every kennel will feed your pet the house diet, we recommend you bring your enough food and medicine for your pet's boarding. This is because an abrupt change in diet may cause your pet to refuse to eat, or may cause stomach upset. It is a good idea to make a bag with your pet's information on the outside - name, breed, male or female, and your contact information. Inside the bag, place one baggie or can for each feeding, and label each container with your pet's information and the date the pet is to be fed the diet. For example, I measure a cup of kibble for my dog, place the kibble in a baggie, and write on the label 'Tina, female Boston Terrier, 4-30-22, morning feeding.' When placing her maintenance medicine in her tote, I use the pharmacy vial, but I only give enough medicine for my trip. A handy hint is to save your pet's last prescription empty bottle to keep any medicine not going to the kennel.

Although, you may feel that your pet must have his favorite toy, bowl, blanket or bed, we recommend that you don't bring any of those to the kennel. Typically, these items are stowed at the kennel away from the pet because the kennel operator feels the items may create a hazard, may get damaged, or may get lost.

We recommend that you get a cost estimate when reserving your boarding. I can remember a vacation when I boarded my dog, and the boarding cost more than my vacation! The kennel operator added baths, flea treatment, and play time. We also recommend that you schedule your boarding with as much notice as possible, especially when your vacation includes a major holiday (Christmas, Memorial Day, etc.). This will help you to prevent having to drive to your second choice facility. Furthermore, you may want to schedule day care or a short trip as your first booking with a kennel. This way, you will know if you can feel at ease during a longer trip.

If your pet is older, does not normally leave your property, or does not get along with other dogs, a pet sitter may be your best option. I know there are professionals who provide house/pet sitting, but I recommend that your act with caution. At least get references and a certificate of insurance if hiring a pet sitter.

Often one family member is able to stay at home and act as the pet sitter. Please provide a letter for this person with our name and address, as well as the twenty-four hour emergency hospital of your choice. The letter should have specific instructions about the type of care and the amount of care that you pre-approve, if needed. Yes, you should leave your emergency contact information. However, sometimes people who are out of town may be unreachable, and we would not want to see your pet suffer if you can't be located.

If you have a pet sitter, a fenced yard is a must. I had a friend who lost both of her cats when a neighbor who was pet sitting let the cats out the back door of the garden apartment.

Pets that are difficult to handle are also not a good match for a pet sitter. Mr K was asked to pet sit for a personal protection trained dog owned by a friend. The dog was trained similar to a police K-9. Mr K though that this would be fine because he regularly visited the friend when the dog was present. However, the dog became protective of his territory when Mr K arrived at the dog's home to care for the dog, when the owner was not there. All ended well in this case, but there was no question that the dog and the pet sitter were not comfortable with this arrangement. A boarding kennel with indoor outdoor runs would have been the best solution.

If you own many pets, the easiest solution may be to tow a travel trailer. Sometimes, these can be rented, but they can be purchased used and insured for a reasonable fee. Motor homes are similar to travel trailers, but a little easier to drive. These self contained units carry water, air conditioning, heat, and an electrical generator. They can be parked in many residential driveways without a permit. Campgrounds also provide an opportunity for an overnight stay.

There are some pet friendly hotels, but they may be hard to find. I can remember traveling with my dog, and stopping at a series of motels searching for one that would take me with my pet. Many had large engraved plaques at the reception desk saying 'NO PETS ALLOWED'. I just kept travelling until I reached my destination. Locating a pet friendly motel before the trip would have been much better.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Lets work together to have your pet experience the best life!

Maureen Kubisz, DVM

Total Pet Hospital LLC

1100 US Hwy 9

Howell, NJ 07731

(732) 780-4499

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