With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, pet parents have a few things to think about.

If you are planning on going away for the holidays there are so many things to consider when it comes to your furry friend. Some people opt to go places where they can take their pet with them, but for some, that might not be an option. They then have to decide whether to put them in a pet care service or get a pet sitter during the holidays. Both of these options have pros and cons and although it is completely up to the pet parent which option they choose, it could be a difficult decision to make.

There are also things to consider. For instance, consider whether your pet is more comfortable in its own environment and whether they are comfortable with strangers.

If you have decided to take your pet with you for the holidays, here are a few tips from the Petinsurance.com.au team:

  • Ensure that the place you are going to is pet friendly and that your pet is socialised with other pets.
  • Make sure that the holiday you are planning is pet friendly. If you are planning on visiting landmarks in a busy city, it might not be the best holiday for your pet.

A pet sitter comes in many shapes and forms. It could be as easy as asking a close family member or friend to pet sit for you while you travel. Here’s a good example. We met Teddy, whose mum Robyn, decided that he would be happy visiting his grandparents while the family went on a break recently and she would have peace of mind knowing he is loved and safe. Robyn said that she was worried that Teddy might find his grandparents’ home unfamiliar, so she took him for a few short visits before the family went away to ensure that he was already familiar with the house before they left. She tried to toilet train him while they were there. Robyn left him for thirty minutes on one of their visits so he could get used to staying there without her. The first time he cried but a treat from Robyn’s mum helped. The second time she left him, he was fine, he just needed to get used to it. When Robyn left Teddy at her parents, they took all of Teddy’s toys and bed so he would feel familiar, she also left a big bag of his favourite treats. Robyn said it worked quite well, although Teddy did forget his toilet manners in his grandparents’ home. She has no idea why this happened as he is a very good boy when he is home. Besides the fact that he cried most of the first night, the rest of the visit was great, said Robyn. Apparently, Teddy’s granddad was very sad to see him go when Robyn took him back home. Looks like Teddy now has a home away from home ????

Another form of a pet sitter is getting a professional pet sitter that comes to live in your home while you are away. It is probably a good idea to get the pet sitter to come to meet your pet first to ensure that they are a good fit before you go on holiday. This is a good option for dogs or cats that are nervous to go to new places and prefer to be in their own home. This option also comes in handy when you have more than one pet and it doubles up as security for your home over the holidays.

There is also the option of taking your pet to a boarding kennel for the holidays. Kennels vary greatly and have various options available for your pet. Typically, kennels provide temporary housing for your pet and usually offer room to run and play outdoors with 24-hour staffing on-site.

A kennel is better suited for pets that are already socialised, are up to date with their vaccinations, and have basic obedience training due to the high number of pets in care at a time.

There are a few things to consider when making the decision of whether to get a pet sitter or take your pet to a kennel:

  • Needs of your pet – does your pet suffer from separation anxiety and would prefer its own space? Are they prone to needing one on one attention?
  • Health of your pet – does your pet need regular medication and require regular visits to the vet?
  • Personality – Does your pet like other people and being busy or prefer to be left alone and in its own environment?
  • Cost – This will be dependent on the pet parent, as getting a member of the family or a close friend to look after your pet will probably not cost you anything, whilst sending your pet to a 5-star pet resort will end up being costly.

Regardless of which option you choose, there are a few things that could come in handy.

  • If you don’t know the pet sitter, it is best to conduct reference checks. You know your pet best and know what type of person you want to look after them in your absence. Getting input from other people is always a good way to know whom you are dealing with. You can also do a Google search or social media search to see what you can find.
  • Make sure you give relevant information to the pet sitter, such as any little habits your pet might have, feeding times, medication instructions, etc. Remember that you want to make the period as nice for your pet as possible.
  • Ensure that the pet sitter has all the contact numbers they need. There must be a backup number in case they cannot get hold of you and vice versa. The last thing you want is to be far away and not be able to facetime with your pet. You can provide the contact details of a family or friend that lives close by just in the event of an emergency. Don’t forget to leave your veterinarian clinics details and your pet insurance details in case it is needed while you away (hopefully not).
  • Make sure that you book in advance whichever way you decide to go. It gives you plenty of time to research your options, making sure your and your pet’s stress levels are low.

Remember that you can get advice from others on what to do with your pet for the holidays but ultimately you know them best and what will work for both of you. That way you can both enjoy a stress-free festive season.

Robyn Ross is an employee of PetSure (Australia) Pty Ltd, the administrator of Petinsurance.com.au pet insurance policies.