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Going on vacation? How to find the right care for your pet: Ready Pet GO!

Boarding? Pet sitters? Family or friends? There are more choices for pet care when you travel. Knowing your pet and their needs will help you make the right decision

CLEVELAND, Ohio — After being kept on a tight leash all winter, many of us are getting the itch for summer travel! And while some trips are "purrfect" for pets, more often than not, we'll need to leave them home. 

Fortunately, there are more options now for care while we're traveling. 

Priority number one is leaving them in competent and loving hands!  

"If you're gonna use either a pet sitter or boarding facility or a friend, you wanna make sure that they know your dog well and you know them well."

We've turned to a Ready Pet GO! trusted expert for some advice. Dog Behavior Consultant Valarie Ross-Smith is also owner of Sits 'n Wiggles Dog Training. 

First up: Boarding! 

"You wanna make sure that it's not too loud, it's not too smelly and that they're providing ways for your animals to relieve stress, whether it's enrichment, daily walks, playtime, even group play with other animals," Ross-Smith said. 

Her checklist includes: 

  • Looking closely at reviews
  • Getting recommendations from family and friends
  • Make sure to go over liability insurance, policies and procedures.
  • What happens if your pet is injured in their care?
  • How do they handle administering medication?
  • How do they handle emergencies?

"How do they contact you? Do they contact you? Ensuring that they have access and permission to go to the ER vet or your local vet if something is going wrong," Ross-Smith said. 

Pet "stay and play" facilities have come a long way in the last decade. Group playtime, one-on-one's with caregivers, enrichment time are part of some packages. 

Make sure you schedule a visit with your pet ahead time to familiarize them. Also, a few comforts from home can make their stay a little easier, too. 

"A favorite chew toy, favorite treats, things of that nature would be really helpful for them."

Next up: Pet sitters. Some will come to your home for visits, while others will stay in your home. Either way, trust is critical. 

"You're going to need to trust them enough to give them access to not only your pets, but now your home as well. Keys, door codes, whatever that may be," said Ross-Smith. 

Her checklist for this option includes: 

  • Getting trusted referrals and reading reviews.
  • Make sure the sitter is bonded, insured, has Pet CPR/First Aid training
  • Find out how they handle emergencies, and vet transport if necessary

Which brings us to this reminder:

"Absolutely let your vet know and let them know that the boarding facility or pet sitter has permission to bring in your pet and that you want to be notified if they do need to bring them in," according to Ross-Smith.

Even if your vacation is a few months away, don't wait to book. Facilities and sitters book up weeks -- even months -- in advance. After all, the dog days of summer will be here, before you know it. 

Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous pets story on March 29, 2023.

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