Going on holiday and leaving your pet

If you're going on holiday and leaving your pet, it's important to ensure your pet is cared for when you are away. The best option is to have a friend or family member look after them. As this may not always be possible, we've listed the best other options as well as what to look out for to ensure your pet has the best time whilst you're away.

  • Have a pet-sitter. Take a look at Rover and find your perfect dog sitter.
  • Take them to a boarding establishment or dog kennel.

Having friends or family look after your pet

An absent owner or change of routine can be stressful for your pet. Having someone look after your pet in your home is usually the best option, as it allows you to keep things as familiar as possible for your pet. This is especially true if you've got a cat, rabbit or small animal as they wont be familiar with travelling and visiting new places.

For dogs, it depends on the individual whether they'd be happier to stay in their home or go to a friend or family member.

Make sure you give who's looking after your pet all the information they need to care for them whilst you're away. Use our holiday checklist at the bottom of the page so you don't miss anything!

Pet sitter

If you can't find a friend or family member to look after your pet, think about getting a pet sitter.

Finding a pet sitter can be a daunting task, as you want to make sure your pet (and property) is looked after properly. The National Association of Registered Pet Sitters can provide you with a list of their members.

Our tips when choosing a pet sitter

  • Meet them before employing them so you're confident that they can care for your pet's needs
  • see a copy of their police check or Criminal Records Bureau certificate to check that they don't have a criminal background
  • check their references
  • check that they have insurance to cover your pet in case of an emergency
  • 'introductory sessions' with your pets new carer will help them settle in for when you're on holiday.

Make sure give your pet carer all the information they need to care for your pet. Use our holiday checklist at the bottom of the page so you don't miss anything!

Animal boarding establishments and dog kennels

If you can't find a friend, family or pet sitter - the best option might be to find a good dog kennel, cattery or small animal boarder.

It's important you take the time to find a place that's suitable for your pet, as each one will vary and the environment can be stressful. If it's your first time choosing an animal boarding place, ask your vet or friends for recommendations. You can also contact local councils or search online for local places. Always visit the boarder before choosing one.

What to check for when visiting an animal boarder

  • An up-to-date licence
  • insurance cover in case your pet needs emergency care
  • facilities are clean, dry, draught-free, secure and provide shade
  • will they exercise your pet and give them the space they need to act normally?
  • will the staff spend time with your dog each day and give them the social contact they need?
  • a suitable system to monitor pets in the day and evening
  • predator and prey species are kept separately to prevent stress
  • do they ask for proof of vaccination? This is important to stop the spread of contagious diseases
  • number of staff - are there enough to look after all of the animals?
  • do they ask about your pet's diet and health?
  • can they accommodate for any medical issues your pet has?
  • do you feel welcome and do the animals in their care look clean, happy and healthy?
  • all dogs and cats are to be up to date with flea and worm treatment.

If the boarding establishment isn't happy to answer your questions or you're not satisfied they'll be able to care for your pet properly, find another reputable boarder who will be able to.

Holiday checklist

Make sure whoever is looking after your pet has everything they need.

  • Details of your pet's usual routine and the importance of trying to stick to this as much as possible
  • provide their usual food and treats with feeding instructions (if your pet needs fresh food leave details of where to buy them)
  • your emergency contact details
  • your vet's contact details (including out-of-hours service)
  • if your pet isn't staying in your home, provide a familiar smelling item - for dogs and cats something like a blanket or a worn item of your clothing. For rabbits and small animals some used, unsoiled nesting material will help them feel comfortable in an unfamiliar place
  • important information about their health, including a supply of any medication and clear instructions on how and when to take
  • information about your pet's behaviour and personality including their likes and dislikes
  • details about how and when to exercise them
  • supplies such as leads, collars, litter trays, scratching posts and toys.
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