Looking after your pets while you’re away – a guide

If you have pets, then you already know what a wonderful addition a dog or a cat can make to your life. Pets offer companionship, are entertaining and quickly become part of the family. Of course, owning pets is also a responsibility, involving time, money and some personal sacrifices. This is especially true when you plan a trip away from home, as a holiday, for business or for any other reason. If you can take your pets with you on your trip, there are all kinds of considerations that need to be taken into account (pet-friendly hotels and campsites, your pet’s attitude to travel, etc.). But in many cases, this is simply not an option, leaving you to find an alternative arrangement for your pets so you can enjoy your trip without having to worry about their health and wellbeing. This article is all about making sure your animals are well taken care of when you go away on a trip. We hope that the tips included here will make your life and the lives of your pets easier when it’s time to leave them away for a few days or more.

Keep them home

Pets, especially cats, dislike change and having you go away is bad enough. If at all possible, it’s best to keep your pets in their natural environment and have someone looking after them at home, either full time or visiting to take care of the basics (feeding, cleaning litter trays, walking dogs, etc.). The longer you are away for, the more important is for someone to be around your pets as much as possible, especially if you only have one dog or cat at home. Companionship is important to pets, so a friendly pet-sitter will make them feel a lot better, even if it’s a stranger. Of course, if at all possible, it’s best to introduce the sitter to your pet or pets before you go away, so that they get to meet him or her while you’re there to make them see this person is a friend.

Make them feel comfortable

Many owners leave a worn T-shirt or other item of clothing around for the pets to be able to smell while they’re away. This is believed to calm pets down. There are, however, various commercial supplements and room odorizers available that can instil a sense of calm in pets. It’s worth checking these out and using them, especially if you know your pet gets distressed when you go away.

Automate things

If you’re only going away for a short time, you may be able to get away with leaving your pets on their own, or just have someone check in once or twice to make sure everything is OK. There are several reliable automatic feeders available on the market, as well as smart home temperature regulators, Wifi enabled cameras and all manner or other gadgets you can use to monitor and control your home environment from a distance (check http://www.thesmartfuture.net/ for some ideas).  As stated above, it’s still worth having someone check in with your pets every once in a while, for companionship, as well as to check that everything is running as it should.

Trusted friends

If you need to remove your pet from your home while you’re away (for example, if you want to rent it out to earn back the cost of your trip), it might be best to find a trusted friend who could temporarily house them. This is particularly suitable for dogs, who may be happy to spend time with a person they like. However, many cats are quick to adapt to a new temporary home too, especially if they already know and like the person looking after them. This may be a good solution if you want to avoid taking the pet to a kennel.

Kennels / Pet hotels

Sometimes you have no choice and must put your pet in a kennel or a pet hotel for the duration of your trip. This may seem daunting for the reasons stated above, but the truth is some pets take to these situations better than others. Many dogs enjoy the company and if you choose a good place with friendly, competent staff and a place for them to run around in, they may actually enjoy their time away. This is especially true on repeat trips, once the dog becomes familiar with both the place and the people running it. Cats may be less enthusiastic about being taken away from home, but some do respond favourably to some situations.