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holidays with and without pets

Pet owners take holidays – and plenty of them! The majority arrange for someone to look after their animals in their absence. This may involve having a friend, family member or pet-minding service come to feed the animal regularly, having someone house-sit (they can also look after your property and bring in the mail) or sending their pet to a cattery or kennel for the duration of their stay. There are services that match your dog to screened minders who will take them into their home and care for them as if they were their own pet while you are away. Many people are now opting to find pet-friendly accommodation to take their pets on holidays with them. Whatever you decide to do, remember to make arrangements for your pet well ahead of time, particularly during school holiday periods.

If you choose to leave your pet at home and arrange for a friend to provide food, water, cuddles and maybe exercise, you should ensure your friend is absolutely reliable and they are going to call at least twice a day. Make sure also that they have enough knowledge of animal health and behaviour to know if things are not right.

If using a professional pet sitter or minder, ensure they have references, and do check them out. It is imperative that they have experience and also that they are mature enough to accept the responsibility of caring for your pet. Invite them around to your home to meet your pet and discuss their special needs. Remember that you are committing the well being of your pets solely to this person. If they are unreliable and do not turn up one day, your pet will be left without food or water. Many veterinarians will know of someone reliable in your area. It’s not a good idea to leave dogs at home being visited by pet sitters for more than a few days. Dogs can become lonely and bored when left for extended periods without their usual amount of human companionship. If they start to bark and annoy the neighbours, you won’t be there to know about it or be able to resolve the problem.

In the unlikely situation that your pet becomes ill while you are absent, be sure to leave your vet’s name and after-hours number, a phone number where you can be contacted or give prior authorisation for someone to act on your behalf should the pet need veterinary attention. Some vets may be reluctant to perform surgery without the owner’s consent.

Many inner-city veterinary hospitals offer boarding for cats as well as dogs. Some urban pet boarding facilities are located close to airports and are the perfect place to board your dog while you go on a business trip or holiday. For example, if you usually work from home or leave your dog indoors while you go to work, and you sometimes need to fly interstate for the day, leaving early and getting home late, instead of worrying about leaving your dog for longer than usual you can drop him off on your way to the airport and collect him when you arrive back, or the next day.

Animal boarding facilities located outside of the city will often collect your pet from a convenient drop-off location such as your local veterinary clinic as part of the service. Better yet, many of these services offer optional extras such as professional training and grooming. Dog and cat boarding facilities are also listed in the Yellow Pages and on the internet, or you could ask your pet-owning friends or your veterinarian for a recommendation.

Be sure to personally inspect any premises where you’re planning to leave your dog or cat – they should be clean and secure with expert, competent staff available at all times and a veterinarian on call in case your pet becomes ill.

Of course, another alternative is to take your pet or pets with you on holidays. Books like Holidaying with Dogs and Holidaying with Cats list numerous pet-friendly caravan parks, camping grounds, B&Bs, holiday rentals and cottages where your pet can stay with you – and enjoy all the fun of the holiday. There are also several websites dedicated to pet-friendly holiday accommodation.

Whether your pet goes to a boarding establishment or remains home, they should be wearing a collar and identification tag and preferably also be microchipped.

Home feeders should also be given a list of people to contact if the pet escapes and is lost.

First on the list should be your local council and adjoining councils, followed by local veterinarians and all animal welfare shelters. Leaving it until you return home to look for your pet may mean that theanimal has been sold or euthanised as unclaimed after the required holding period.