‘Tis the season for road trips and out-of-town adventures again — yep, summer’s here! Aside from ironing out your island-hopping itinerary and shopping for new swimwear, there’s another “impawtant” item that needs to be ticked off from your to-do list, and that is making sure your companion animal is safe and healthy while you’re gone!

Whether you’ll be chilling on the beach for a few days or venturing outside the country for a couple of weeks, it’s your responsibility to make plans for your cat or dog, too. Follow these tips from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, South Boston Animal Hospital, and Furbo to ensure that this summer will be pawsome for both you and your furry friend, even if you’ll be spending some time apart!

Get a pet sitter to watch your furbaby while you’re away

Ideally, this person would be a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor. For many dogs and cats, staying at home with someone they know is less stressful than spending time in a strange place.

Introduce your compassion animal to the pet sitter

Before you leave, let your cat or dog meet their caregiver at least once if it’s someone they’re not yet familiar with, so they won’t feel scared when the pet sitter shows up at your house after you’ve left.

Schedule your pet sitter’s visits around your furkid’s daily routine

Maintaining their regular schedule — i.e., eating and going for walks at the usual times — helps keep your companion animal’s anxiety level down.

Book your furry pal with a boarding facility

If you can’t find a sitter, leaving your pet at a dog or cat hotel is another option. Or, you can take them to a family member’s house for a staycation.

Leave small reminders for your four-legged bff

A favorite toy or old shirt that smells like you can help comfort your furbaby until your return.

Boarding your furbaby?

Here are a few tips for you, in case you’re thinking of dropping of your furry friend off for boarding or at a pet hotel.

  • Do your research – Check the boarding facility’s website and social media page to get an idea of what kind of experience to expect. Look for client reviews and testimonials as well!
  • Drop by the pet hotel beforehand – Doing so gives you a chance to personally inspect the facility and talk to the staff. Don’t be shy about asking lots of questions, such as how much the boarding fee is, what the price includes, where your furbaby will sleep, how much time they’ll have to socialize with other animals, and how many caregivers are available at any given time.
  • Provide detailed written instructions – Include your furry friend’s diet, feeding times, walking schedule, any medical needs, and other things that the caregiver needs to know. Go over everything with them before you leave.
  • Keep in touch daily – Make a video call to check in on your doggo or cat if pawssible. They’ll love seeing you on the screen and hearing your voice! Otherwise, updates in the form of photos and text messages are also great in letting you know that your companion animal is doing OK.
  • Leave your contact information with the pet sitter or boarding facility – It’s also a good idea to include the details of an alternate contact person in case you can’t be reached during an emergency.
  • Provide your vet’s name, phone number, and address too – If your cat or dog is staying at home, post this information in a location that can be easily seen.
  • Make sure there is extra food – Always leave more than enough food with the boarding facility in case your return is delayed.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s April 2019 issue.