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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey

Traveling Without Your Pet?

What Are Your Options?

Our pets are very much like us in so many ways. Some of us travel with ease and adapt to new surroundings without any problem, others will be anxious and expect the worst. Deciding to travel and leave our pets in the care of others can be a very stressful decision. The time without us can be an easy adjustment or very difficult for them. Do you leave them in a kennel or at home? How do you choose a kennel or sitter? Do you have enough time to interview different sitters and kennels? If you have more than one pet, will they be together or separated?

Are you sure you still want to go away?

If possible, it is always best to ask for recommendations from friends, family, and your veterinarian. The closest facility may not always be the best. Not all pet sitters who come to your home are responsible and dependable. A kennel can be very noisy and this is not a good setting for many of our pets – some won’t eat, develop diarrhea, or cannot settle down at all. Some kennels are 100% indoors and the dogs must go potty indoors, unless you ask for outdoor time.

Questions to ask a kennel

  • Can you bring your pet’s own food and toys to the kennel?
  • Will they give your pet’s medication?
  • What hours is the kennel attended?
  • Is there play time or are walks available?
  • Can your pets stay together?
  • Ask to see where your pet will stay
  • What vaccinations are required? (Some kennels require additional vaccinations)
  • What happens if your pet becomes ill? Do they call your own vet or do they have a vet affiliated with the hospital? (Another vet is less likely to
  • know your pet’s history)

Questions to ask a sitter

  • How often will they come and how long will they stay?
  • Can they stay overnight?
  • Will they give your pet’s medication?
  • How long have they been working as a pet sitter? Get references!
  • Do they have insurance?
  • What happens in case of a sitter’s personal emergency and they cannot make it?
  • What happens if your pet becomes ill? Will they call your vet and transport your pet there? Or use a local vet?
Whatever your choice, one or several trial runs are always a great idea. You can start with a day at the kennel, or some sitter visits while you are at work. Even an overnight at the kennel is an excellent idea because that is completely different from the daytime. Animals have a very good concept of time, and definitely have their routines. Not seeing you at the end of the day can be devastating and will take some getting used to. In addition to a scheduled visit to tour the kennel, plan to visit the kennel unannounced! See what the atmosphere is likeA kennel worker plays with several small dogs. at a random time of the day.

A word of advice: If you know you have vacation or business trips planned, this is not the time to get a newpet. Please be considerate of the bond you will be forming with a new pet and understand that any action, especially early on, can leave a lifetime imprint.

Finding a great kennel that you and your pet love is like finding gold! Our travel plans can be fun for our pets if we plan properly and give them some time to get used to the idea!

Dr. Karin Derfuss graduated from Cook College (Rutgers University) before attending Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine. She is IVAS certified in veterinary acupuncture and continues her integrative studies through IVAS, CIVT and the Chi Institute.

Dr. Derfuss practices at the Branchburg Animal Hospital, 1167 Route 28, Branchburg. 908-707-0045. Facebook: BranchburgAnimalHospital.

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