Preparing for Vacation: Tips for Boarding or Using Pet-sitters during Trips

by Amanda Newsom

 Photo: Gabriella Audi

Photo: Gabriella Audi

Summer is here, and vacation planning is in full swing for many pet owners. We have some quick tips to help you find the best boarding facility or pet-sitter to make your vacation planning a little more streamlined.



Unless you’re taking a last minute trip, plan ahead for who you want to care for your pets. During holidays and busy times of year (like summer), your favorite boarder or sitter may be booked up farther in advance than normal. It’s also a good idea to have a back-up in case they aren’t available.

Be sure your pets are up-to-date on all of the vaccines required by boarding facilities or pet-sitters so you aren’t turned away when you drop off your pet. Most boarders require a current rabies, DHPP and Bordetella vaccines for dogs and current rabies, FVRCP and FeLV for cats. 



Boarding and pet-sitting are both excellent options for ensuring that your pets are well cared for while you are vacationing, but there are some differences to consider. 

Pet-sitters may drop in for visits multiple times per day or even stay in your home, or they may allow your pets to stay in their home. The biggest perks to pet-sitting are that your pets typically receive more one-on-one attention, and there is more flexibility to work with the sitter to meet yourspecific needs.

Pet-sitting is a wonderful option for some pets, but boarding may be a better option for you depending on your needs. Boarding facitilies have pre-set schedules and protocols in place already that may work better for your pet, especially if they have medical or behavorial issues. Many facilities also have live cams where you can check in on your pet, which is a pretty cool feature. 



While many boarders or sitters may provide food and enrichment items, it’s a good idea to pack a bag for your pet for a couple of reasons if they won’t be staying in your home. First, you’ll want to keep your pet on their current food instead of using the provided food if possible because changing foods abruptly will upset your pet’s stomach. The last thing you want for them to deal with while staying in a new place without you is an added stomach ache.

Also, take their own toys, blanket, bed and crate so they will feel more secure and comfortable in their temporary housing. 



Once you choose your boarder or pet-sitter, set up a meet and greet before your trip at the location where your pet will be staying. If you choose a boarding facility, ask them to give you a tour ahead of time. If you’re using a pet-sitter, this is a good time to let them meet your pet to be sure they are comfortable with you and you are comfortable with them. Your tour or meet and greet is the best time to review all of your pet’s care and enrichment information.



This may seem like overkill, but it is extremely useful for everyone involved. Even after you go over everything for your pet’s needs, write it all down and provide your pet-sitter or boarder with it. It should include:

  • Veterinary Office Name/Phone Number 
  • Vet Records 
  • When & How Much to Feed Each Pet
  • Any Medical Issues
  • Any Behavioral Issues
  • Where Important Items are Located in Your House
  • Any Other Instructions Discussed

Now you can enjoy your vacation knowing your pet is in good hands while you’re away!