Going on holiday: finding care for your pets

If you can’t take your pet on holiday with you, you’ll need to find someone suitable to look after them while you’re away.

Nowadays, there’s lots of different options for holiday pet care:

  • Friends and family
  • Professional pet sitters
  • Boarding kennels, catteries or ‘pet hotels’
  • Home from home dog boarding

 

What’s best for your pet

Lots of pets find going into kennels or catteries quite stressful. They’d prefer to stay in their own home where they feel safe and secure. Cats especially are often better off if they can stay in a familiar environment. Friends and family or professional pet sitters might be able to look after your pet in your home. You can find a pet sitter through the National Association of Registered Pet Sitters. Call 0845 230 8544 or visit their website to find a local pet sitter.

'Home from home' boarding, which tends to be for dogs and small pets or occasionally cats, would usually have your pet staying in a home rather than in a kennel. They'll have their own room and be treated like part of the family. This is a good solution for pets who need a little extra care or who're nervous of being in a kennel.

If those options aren’t available, you should book your pet into a reputable local kennel or cattery. In traditional boarding kennels or catteries, pets are kept in a kennel while you're on holiday. They get walked each day and have opportunity for play time. Some kennels or catteries will advertise themselves as 'pet hotels' and may offer more luxurious extras such as an individual room for your pet or comfier bedding or more socialising with the staff. But some 'normal' kennels will also offer these services, so it's best to check what's available in your area.

Whichever option you pick, do plenty of research, visit premises in person before you book your pet in, don’t rely on websites and ask friends or your vet for recommendations. Makes sure to check the business you are using is licensed by the local council too and in England check the ‘star rating’ on the license – we recommend looking for a five star rating (the highest possible).

Good boarding places often get fully-booked during busy holiday times, like summer and Christmas, so book early.

 

How to prepare your pet for boarding

Here are our vets’ top tips to help make sure your pet stays happy and healthy while you’re away:

  • Vaccinations: Reputable boarding kennels and catteries will all want to know that your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Unvaccinated pets won’t be allowed to stay, as there’s a risk they’ll pick up or pass diseases on to other pets. Speak to your vet about when your pet needs their boosters and get any necessary vaccinations well in advance. Make sure your pet’s vaccination record is up-to-date and take it along when you drop your pet off for boarding. Don’t leave vaccinations until the last minute, especially kennel cough! There may be a specific time frame between vaccination and them accepting your pet to board. 

  • Medication: If your pet has to take regular medication to keep them well, make sure you have enough to cover the time you’re away. Speak to the person who’s looking after your pet and leave written instructions for them to follow. They’ll need to know what medication to give and when (e.g. morning, evening, before food, after food) and the best way to get your pet to take it, if it’s a tablet. Make sure that the person looking after them is confident giving the medication and knows what to do if there are any problems or side effects seen.

  • Contact details: Make sure the person looking after your pet has your vet’s contact details in case of emergencies. They’ll also need your contact details for while you’re away – extra info like the name, address and telephone number of your hotel can be useful as a back-up as well as your mobile number. Find out their protocol if they can’t get in touch with you and need to take your pet to a vet and make sure this fits with your wishes.
  • Food and exercise: A sudden change in your pet’s diet can give them an upset stomach. Provide more than enough of your pet’s usual food to cover the time you’ll be away. Leave written instructions about how much food should be given and when, and how much exercise your pet usually gets.
  • Toys and blankets: Blankets which smell of home can help your pet to settle into their temporary home. Their favourite toys will help stop them from getting bored if they’re in a kennel on their own.