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How to take a vacation without worrying about your pet

Is the place you are heading to not pet-friendly? Here are some ways you can ensure your pet is well taken care of while you are away

Pack adequate amount of your pet's regular food to ensure they don't develop any gastrointestinal problems due to diet change.
Pack adequate amount of your pet's regular food to ensure they don't develop any gastrointestinal problems due to diet change. (iStock)

With Christmas and New Year's Eve round the corner, people are planning to take time off, and possibly take a vacation. One of the big challenges while planning this is to figure your pet’s well-being. As the number of pet owners in the country grows, an increasing number of hotels are opening their doors to their four four-legged family members too. However, not all vacation plans can accommodate pets. Which begs the question, what are the options to make sure our pets are safe and well cared for while we are gone? 

Read: How to protect your pet during the winter

To start off, you could entrust your pet to a friend. This arrangement works best if your friend enjoys your pet's company and is accustomed to them. Alternately, you can ask a friend to come over and look after your pet, while you are away. This is how I usually manage my cat, Catbury. Most cats like Catbury do not appreciate travelling and prefer the comfort of their own homes. They dislike disruptions to their routine and prefer to stay in familiar surroundings. Having a buddy come in and babysit your cat is a practical option that also allows you to relax knowing that your pet is being looked after.

If you and your pals decide to go on vacation at the same time, you can hire a pet sitting service to look after your pets. You can call upon their services even if you plan to leave your pet for a night. Certified home pet sitters like PetCetra,, BowWow Pet Sitters, TailSpin among many others are now available. All you'd need to do is make a list of instructions for the sitter, including what and how much your pet eats, their favourite toys, and things they are not allowed to do, as well as the phone number for your veterinarian in case of an emergency. If you have a cat, let them know about all those hiding spots in your home where they may expect to find it. Tell them how often the litter needs to cleaned and litter material changed. This ensures a pleasant experience for both your pet and the pet sitter.

Pet sitters may not always stay overnight and may be available only for a few hours. If you are worried about how your four legged friend will do through multiple nights, boarding facilities are the best option. 

Some doting pet parents keep a few pets at a time along with their own and offer a home like experience. If this is hard to come by, then there are professional boarding facilities, which provide a separate kennel for your dog or a small suite for your cat, and cater to their exercise and feeding schedules. 

If you're thinking about boarding facility for your pet for the holidays, there are a few things to keep in mind. All of your dog's vaccines, including the kennel cough vaccines must be current. This is in interest of your pet’s health and the health of the other pets lodging there. Ensure you hand over adequate amount of your pet's regular food to the boarding facility. It protects against any gastrointestinal problems that may arise as a result of a diet change. Put a valid ID on their collar with your contact information so that they can be located in the event of an accident, and don’t forget to provide your veterinarian's contact information.

Tick and flea preventative procedures are also required before taking your dog in a kennel boarding facility. Also, before admitting, take your pet to the kennel a few times to get it acquainted to the place. While you're there, reinforce the experience positively by offering them treats.

Don’t forget to pack their favourite toys on the day you'll be dropping them off at their boarding facility. Leave precise instructions on any medication that your pet may require so that the folks caring for your pet know what to administer. In case the boarding facility has to bathe your pet while you are away include a shampoo that they regularly use in the luggage. If you believe your pet might bite, bring a muzzle they're used to so no one gets hurt while they're at the facility. This also makes it easier for people to handle your pet without causing them any difficulty or discomfort. If you're boarding your cat, it's critical that you provide their litter pan and the litter type they're used to. Finally, remember to kiss and hug them farewell while assuring them that you will return soon.

For cats, having a friend or a pet sitter over is preferable to boarding facility. This is because cats are fussy by nature, they might become anxious when placed in new and unfamiliar situations. Most pet sitters and boarding facilities accommodate your request to video contact your pet while you are away on vacation. So, even if you are physically away from them, you can still be virtually connected without a worry.  

Dr Nameeta Nadkarni is a practising veterinary soft tissue surgeon and pet blogger from Mumbai, who loves to play the piano in her free time and is ruled by her whimsical cat, Catbury, at home. 

Also Read: Why you should pay attention to your pet's teeth

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