Going away and leaving your pet

If you're going on holiday and leaving your pet behind, it's important to ensure they're cared for while you're away. The best option is to have a friend or family member look after them, but as this isn't always possible, let's look at some of the other options, including:

  • Using a pet-sitter - take a look at Rover and find your perfect dog sitter
  • Taking them to dog boarding or kennels

Having friends or family look after your pet

Pets can get stressed when you're away, as it means a change to their normal routine. Having someone look after them in your home is usually the best option, as it allows you to keep things as familiar as possible for them. This is especially true if you've got a cat, rabbit or small animal, as they won't be familiar with travelling and visiting new places.
For dogs, it depends on the dog as to whether they'd be happier to stay in their home or go to a friend or family member.

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

Using a pet-sitter

If you can't find a friend or family member to look after your pet, think about getting a pet-sitter - someone who'll stay in your home to care for your pet while you're away.

Finding the right person 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 its members.

Choosing a pet-sitter

  • Meet them before employing them so you're confident that they can care for your pet's needs
  • Ask to see a copy of their DBS 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 pet's new carer before you go away will help them settle in for when you're on holiday.

Make sure to 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 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 to 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.

Choosing an animal boarder

Here's a checklist of things to consider when choosing an animal boarder:

  • Licence - do they have an up-to-date licence?
  • Insurance cover - do they have this in case your pet needs emergency care?
  • Good facilities - are facilities clean, dry, draught-free, secure and providing shade?
  • Exercise - will they exercise your pet and give them the space they need to act normally?
  • Social contact - will the staff spend time with your dog each day and give them the social contact they need?
  • Monitoring - do they have a suitable system to monitor pets in the day and evening?
  • Separation - they'll need to keep predator and prey species separately to prevent stress
  • Vaccination proof - do they ask for proof of vaccination? This is important to stop the spread of contagious diseases
  • Number of staff - are there enough people to look after all the animals?
  • Asking the right questions - do they ask about your pet's diet and health?
  • Medical issues - can they accommodate any medical issues your pet has?
  • Welcoming - do you feel welcome and do the animals in their care look clean, happy and healthy?
  • Parasite treatments - are all dogs and cats 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, keep looking for a reputable boarder until you find one you feel happy with.

Holiday checklist for people looking after your pets

Use this checklist to 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
  • Their usual food and treats with feeding instructions - if your pet needs fresh food, leave details of where to buy it
  • Contact details - your emergency contact details and those of your vet (including their out-of-hours service)
  • Familiar-smelling items - 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
  • Health information - important information about their health, including a supply of any medication and clear instructions on how and when they should take them
  • Behaviour information - information about your pet's behaviour and personality including their likes and dislikes
  • Exercise needs - details about how and when to exercise them
  • Supplies such as leads, collars, litter trays, scratching posts and toys.

For more information on going away as a pet owner, read our guide to caring for pets while you're away on holiday.

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