Traveling during the holidays can be complicated without pets and the complications escalate when pets come along.
The holiday standard for most people planning to travel is to board their pet or arrange to have a pet sitter take care of the pets left at home.
I prefer to use pet sitters because animals are kept in the security of their own homes where they are comfortable and face less risk of picking up fleas or kennel cough.
More individual attention is provided with these types of services–at least that has been my experience.
Getting an neighbor or local teen to look in on pets is NOT a good idea and should be avoided.
You want someone who is trained in animal-handling skills, pet first aid and who operates so that your home will be secure and your animal won’t escape. And so that you will have peace of mind during and after your trip.
Confirm that your animal care professional is bonded and insured and actually call to check at least three references.
Many people check with the local veterinarian but I prefer to use professional members of the national groups because they meet the minimum standards put forth by the organizations and are always better choices.
Also, professionals will be aware of local health ordinances and other community regulations that will be important to follow.
Most will leave you a short journal about their visits and collect important information about your veterinarian, emergency home shut offs, and local emergency contacts when they meet with you.
During your initial meeting make sure to share any instructions regarding special care or routines your pet needs.
In addition, remember to leave ample food and supplies supplies and a small emergency fund should your pet need something while you are away.
Most will put your key on file and have a contract that outlines emergency veterinary services but make sure to alert your veterinary clinic that the sitter is authorized to bring any pet in for emergency care.
Alert your alarm company and get a specific code for the sitter before you leave.
Also make sure to turn off the motion detector so your pets don’t set off the alarm while you are gone–and give directions on how to do this for the sitter too!