Preparing for a trip out of town is simple enough when you live on your own. Things like setting the thermostat and packing the belongings you need for your travels are relatively easy tasks to complete. However, when you’ve chosen to be a pet parent, your vacation preparation gets a bit more complicated.
From identifying your pet’s unique needs to addressing each need with an effective solution, preparing your pets for your vacation is often times more difficult than preparing yourself for your vacation. If you’re a new pet owner embarking on your first tip out of town while leaving your pet at home, there are several simple steps you should take to make sure your pet will be well taken care of while you’re away.
There will be times that you can take your pet with you, but there will be other times that you cannot. If you’re not sure whether or not you should bring your pet with you, The Humane Society has an excellent guide with tips to help you.
If you’ve determined that your pet will not be going with you on your trip, check out this list of tips on what you should do to prepare your pet for your time away.
1. Chat with your vet about your pet’s needs
Depending on the type of pet you have, its specific breed and its unique personality, your pet’s needs will vary while you’re away. If you’re yet to leave your pet alone, check in with your vet before your trip to determine what preparations you should make. For cats, you usually won’t need much more than a pet sitter who stops by to check food and water and maybe even change out the litter box. For dogs, things can get a bit more complicated.
If you have a dog whose breed needs high maintenance by nature or simply has a personality that requires more attention, your vet might recommend looking into your options for leaving your pet with a friend or family member, or even leaving your pet at a boarding establishment during your trip.
Ask around to see if your friends know of a boarding service they might be recommend. If your initial efforts to find a boarding service through friends and family fails, check out Rover.com to search boarding services in your area.
2. Enlist help
Even if you and your vet determine that your pet is pretty low maintenance, it will still be best to arrange for someone to come in and check on your pet while you’re away. It might be tempting to leave a low maintenance pet like a cat alone with a large bowl of food and water while you’re away, but your pet will appreciate having someone stop by and make sure he or she is doing alright.
Ask around to see if a trusted friends or family member might be able to stop by a handful of times while you’re away. If none of your friends or family members are available to care for your pet while you’re away, look into your options for hiring a professional pet sitter. There are online services that can match you with affordable options for pet sitters in your area.
Before you leave, be sure to provide your pet sitter with detailed instructions about your pet’s care.
3. Automate food and water bowls
If you’re able to leave your pet at home with arrangements for a pet sitter to stop by on occasion, it might be difficult to know exactly when your sitter will be stopping by to give your pet food and water. This can be a bit of a problem given that most pets are creatures of habit. According to the experts at CC Animal Clinic, it’s important to keep your pet’s food on a consistent schedule while you’re away. The best way to do this is to set a feeder that feeds your animal at a given time each day, regardless of time your sitter is able to stop by and check on your pet.
Petsmart and PetCo offer a lot of great options for automated pet feeders. Before you set the feeder, be sure to check feeding guidelines for your pet to make sure you’re not over or underfeeding your pet. My Sweet Dogs offers up a solid feeding guide for dogs. CatInfo.org provides a great guide for cat owners.
The pet experts at Canidae recommend removing “temptations” that might encourage bad behavior in your pet while you’re away. For example, leaving shoes out for dogs to chew on might leave you with an unpleasant surprise when you get home. Or leaving a pile of clothing out while you’re away might tempt your cats to lay on and shed all over them while you’re gone.
Before you leave for your trip, be sure to pick up around your home. Focus on stowing away anything that your pet has a proven track record of getting into.
5. Leave a comfy bed or blanket out
One of the most important things to remember when you leave your pet home alone is that he or she might get a little lonely. One way you can help your pet feel a little more comfortable while you’re away is to leave a comfy bed or blanket out.
You could leave this bed or blanket in a nice sunny spot by a window to allow your pet to enjoy a view of the outside and a little sun while he or she waits for you to get home. Some pet experts even recommend heating up a cloth rice bag and placing it in the bed or blanket during colder months so that your pet has a warm and comforting spot to hang out while you’re away. You could even leave it in your sitter’s instructions to rewarm the rice bag and place it back in your pet’s spot again when they come by.
Hopefully these tips will help you prepare for your first time leaving your pet alone while you leave town. If you have any questions, ask away in the comments below!
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