Pet Boarding vs Pet Sitter - What's best for you and your pets

Dog in suitcase

As pet owners, it's not easy having to leave our fur kids behind when we are going out of town. Whether it's for a last minute business trip, a vacation or wedding, whatever the case, it's not always possible to take our pets with us, no matter how many times they climb into our suitcases or give us the sad puppy eyes. But this leaves us with a responsibility to find a suitable option of who to entrust with their care. With my own pets, I used boarding facilities for years before I finally discovered the magic of a pet sitter in my own home. For my multiple anxious and high maintenance senior dogs, it was a game changer. Both financially as well as quality of care for them. Boarding facilities have their pros and cons, as do pet sitters, it just depends what's right for you and your pets.

When to Board

  • Very Social Animals

Some dogs love to be around people and other dogs all the time, they thrive in social environments and are invigorated by the company. These are the kind that do well in most boarding facilities. These type of pets that are instantly best friends with every human they meet are perfect for kennels since often multiple staff members will take turns handling the animals.

  • Dogs Only

If you have a cat or a bird or anything smaller like a rodent, they often are lower maintenance than most canines and thus would be more cost efficient to just hire someone to come by and feed them rather than keep them in a kennel. Not to mention. it's also lower stress for these sensitive creatures, who are usually much less socialized to different people, travel and new experiences than dogs. Cats in particular, generally prefer the freedom to roam around as much as possible and are more easily stressed when kept in small unfamiliar spaces.

  • Serious Medical Conditions

If you have a pet with a serious illness or in a state of precarious health where proximity to medical care is a high priority, many veterinary offices do offer boarding services. Though, if they have conditions that are manageable with certain medications such as epilepsy or diabetes, a pet sitter or other type of boarding facility might be preferable. "Although this seems like a great idea, most veterinary boarding facilities are the old fashioned, cold, sterile type. Because medical and surgical cases are a higher priority in veterinary hospitals, boarders are likely to be short changed on attention and care." says veterinarian Dr. Ken Tudor in The Daily Vet.

Human embracing happy dog

When to get a Pet Sitter

cat dog human age ratio
  • Senior Pets

Senior pets are generally pretty set in their ways and prone to anxiety and stress in unfamiliar environments. This chart provided by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation below should help if you are unsure if your pet is in his or her senior years. It also varies breed to breed, which is important to keep in mind. Other challenges that plague older pets are mobility issues and potential loss of vision or hearing which can add to stress in loud, crowded and unfamiliar environments. Also issues such as flooring in most boarding facilities can be problematic for senior pets “Those arthritic dogs, if they’re laying around all the time, they’re going to get stiff and surface is a big deal,” Veterinarian Dr. Mengel says in an article on Vetstreet.com.

  • Anxious or Shy Pets

If your pet is particularly anxious or shy then hiring a pet sitter might be your best option. Especially when it comes to rescues, who have already spent time in that kind of environment being kenneled with other dogs, you might want to save them the stress. Being in the familiar surroundings of their own home significantly reduces stress. In comparison to a loud, noisy kennel filled with numerous different smells, staying home would be much less likely to overstimulate or stress them.

  • Multiple Pets

The cost of boarding facilities depending on your locations can be pretty substantial to begin with, having to board multiple pets definitely adds up. At a time when your are already dealing with the expenses of travel, having to shell out all of those boarding costs might not be your best option. Generally pet sitting will save you money without sacrificing quality of care.

Both boarding and pet sitting each have their place, and it's up to you to decide what's best for you and your pet. Hopefully the information above is helpful to you. The two might be competing industries, but at the end of the day we all love animals and want what's best for every pet. Feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts or additions to these lists.

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