Planning on a vacation? Make sure Fido and Fluffy are in those plans, too!

Making travel plans can be daunting, especially trying to figure out what to do with the four legged family members. Most pet parents believe the best course of action is to ask a friend or neighbor to look after them while they are gone, which is by far the most economical, but not necessarily the best for your pets. Here’s why:

  • Can you be sure that a friend or family member will show up when it’s best for the pet-not their schedule? I’ve heard horror stories where teenagers “forgot” to take a dog out and one dog actually held his “business” for a 24 hour period until the teenage realized the error of his ways.
  • Friends and family aren’t trained in first aid. Many pet sitters are, and know what to do in an emergency situation.
  • Are friends and family members knowledgeable in the breed-and their personality traits? Do they know what to expect when Fido lunges at a child, or not?
  • Are friends and family members on a first name basis with local vets, and more importantly, do they have signed paperwork legally allowing your pet to be taken in for care? Are your friends and family members authorized to get treatment for Fido if any emergency should arise?
  • Do they know how to administer meds if your pet is in need?
  • Are they thoroughly checking on your home for water damage, electrical problems and such?
  • Are they bonded and insured for anything that may go wrong in your home or with your pet?

There are also several theories on what’s best for Fido if the pet owner does decide to hire professional care in his/her absence. They can range from professional boarding facilities, to boarding at the vets to having a pet sitter come into your home.

All have advantages and disadvantages. A professional boarding facility will look after your pet on a 24 hour basis, but before you decide on this option, look into the actual amount of time a person is there. Many “close” from 9 pm until 7 am the following morning, and Fido will be enclosed in a pen or stall that length of time. They may also be exposed to illness which they wouldn’t be exposed to by staying at home. Most facilities require certain immunizations which are only necessary if they are being boarded. (Personally, I don’t believe in over-immunizations for my pets, and prefer the holistic approach) The facility will also be on their schedule, versus your pets. Many pet boarding facilities offer cameras where you can see your pet live, which is comforting to many pet parents.

In home care offers the ability to have Fido stay in his familiar territory and to stay on his or her own schedule. The saying “there’s no place like home” rings true here. The advantages of staying at home, in my opinion, outweigh the disadvantages. For example, you don’t have to take your pet anywhere or pick them up from a strange facility-he is there when you walk through the door-ready to greet you. They also get to sleep in their own beds, eat their own food, smell their peoples scents on furniture, and stay on their own routine-not that of the kennel.

Many professional pet sitters offer a “sleepover” option, which allows Fido to sleep in his own home with a professional staying by his side.

The other huge advantage of in home sitting is you have a built in home sitter. Pet sitters typically adjust lighting, open and close window treatments, take in mail, water plants and give your home a “lived in” look. They can also take out the trash and recycling! This is a huge plus in helping to deter theft and you have the peace of mind in knowing your home is being cared for as well as your precious animals.

The disadvantage to in-home pet sitting is the cost, which is typically 50% more than conventional boarding.

With all of these options, choose carefully. The most important thing is for you to have peace of mind as well as the knowledge that your pet is being looked after in the same manner you would. Nothing will spoil a vacation more quickly than receiving a phone call that something has happened to your pet, so make sure that you feel comfortable in your decision.

Wisconsin Pet Care is a fully bonded and insured local pet sitting and dog walking company. For more information, please visit