Planning a vacation or going on a business trip? Who’s going to take care of your dog or cat while you’re away?
Whether you’re away for 2 days or 2 weeks, you will need someone to look after your pet’s physical and emotional needs.
How long can my pet be left alone?
Young and old dogs have more difficulty being alone than than middle-aged dogs. “Young” is between 6-19 months, and “old” is generally around 6-8+ years. If your dog falls into either of these categories, she will need more attention.
There is a common misconception that cats don’t care about their humans. But the truth is that cats are highly social animals, and can experience separation anxiety when their humans “disappear.”
Dogs should receive attention at least 2-3x daily while you’re away, and cats should have someone coming by 1x daily.
Tips for Hiring Help
Unless you can teleport back and forth between home and your destination, you will need to get outside help to make sure your pet is well cared for in your absence. If you’re still worried, installing a wireless video camera for indoor or outdoor use enables you to check up on them even when you’re far away.
Dog walker: A dog walker is a person who is paid to make sure your pup gets regular exercise. They can come by once or twice a day, and aside from a social opportunity for your pet, exercise is a great way to help your dog release anxious energy.
Pet sitter: Whether professional or just a neighbor kid, getting a pet sitter is essential to taking care of your pet(s) while you’re away. They should change food and water daily, as well as play with your pet during each visit (at least). Depending on your pet’s disposition, this can be at your place or dropped off at a trusted friend’s house. If you choose to go with a professional, expect to pay at least $20 per visit. This may seem steep, but professional sitters come with perks like insurance, first aid training, and will send you frequent updates on your pet’s welfare.
Doggy daycare: If your dog is well socialized, doggy daycare is an option. Although the services can be expensive, this is a great way to make sure your dog has lots of fun in your absence. As you choose a daycare, get recommendations from other dog owners and schedule a tour as well as an interview to get a feel for the place yourself.
Veterinary boarding: If your dog/cat has special health needs, boarding at your vet clinic may be the best choice. That way if anything happens, your pet will be surrounded by knowledgeable people who will know what to do.
Ways to Keep Your Pet Entertained
Dogs and cats both get stressed when left alone for too long, which often manifests in destructive behavior to your home and to themselves.
- Turn on the TV or radio (this doubles as a handy home security measure)
- Buy them a new toy(s)
- Hide toys and bits of kibble around the house (but don’t forget where you left them!)
- Apply calming essential oils (lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, wild orange, frankincense) to your pet’s bed
- Provide window perches with a bird feeder installed outside
If your schedule has changed and you know you’re going to be away a lot, consider getting another dog or cat to serve as a playmate. Make sure they get along well, however, before you commit.