Before booking a stay at a kennel, consider other options: taking your
pet along, leaving him with a friend, having a friend or neighbor pet-sit,
or hiring a commercial pet sitter. Each of these options has important
pros and cons to consider.
If you decide a kennel is the best option, the ratings from other pet owners,
shown on our Ratings Tables of area kennels will help you find one
that provides top-notch care. (Were still working on methods to survey
Several of the kennels listed on our Ratings Tables received favorable
ratings: some were rated superior for overall quality by at least 90
percent of their surveyed customers. But we also found some other kennels
that didnt exactly wow clients with stellar service: these kennels received
superior ratings overall from fewer than 60 percent of their surveyed
There are also big price differences. To board a medium-size dog for one
week, for example, prices range from $126 to $385. Thats just for the
basic boarding. At some kennels, the extras can add up fast: additional
exercise can cost you an extra $8 or more per day; administering a pill
might cost $4 or more per day. Also, some kennels have extremely limited
drop-off and pickup periods that make it difficult to avoid paying for
an extra day.
It can all add up to a substantial chunk of your vacation budget. Fortunately,
some of the higher rated kennels charge below-average prices.
Carefully check out any kennel you are considering:
Be wary of any kennel that wont let you inspect its facilities unannounced
during regular operating hours.
Check whether dogs have an indoor and outdoor runlarge enough and with
protection from the sun, rain, cold, and heat.
Make sure animals are protected from one another and that there is proper
fencing to keep your pet in and other animals out.
Make sure the kennel has proper health protectionsthat it is clean and
not excessively smelly, that all admitted pets must have proof of proper
vaccinations, and that pets are carefully examined for signs of disease
or parasites at check-in.
Size up staff members. Do they answer your questions? Show affection for
the animals? Are they available 24 hours per day?
Airfare. Hotel. Ground transportation. Meals. Ridiculous baggage-checking
fees. Travel costs can add up fast. And paying someone to take care of
the family pet is one more expenseand one more worry.
You have several choices: Take your pet along; ask a friend to foster;
hire a pet sitter; or book a stay at a kennel. If you go with the kennel
option, which kennel will make sure your pet is well cared for, provide
a comfortable place to sleep, give it plenty of room to roam, and bestow
the kind of affection your pet gets at home? What will they do if your
pet gets sick? And how much will it cost?
Relax. Weve found several area kennels that provide safe, happy, and comfortable
quarterssome with rates that wont break your vacation budget.
Before settling on a kennel, it makes sense to consider the other alternatives.
Taking Your Pet Along
The advantages of taking your pet with you are that youll share the experiences
with the pet, know that the pet will receive loving care, spare your pet
(and yourself) the stress of separation, and avoid the expense and inconvenience
of arranging for a sitter or a kennel.
But taking the pet might not be possible. You might be traveling for work,
but even vacation lodgings may not allow pets, or your means of transportation
may make bringing a pet impossible or prohibitively expensive. Whats more,
having a pet along may be thoroughly inconvenientwhat do you do with the
pet when you go out to dinner, to a museum, or to a ballgame, much less
to a business meeting?
And there are risks. Pets may be terrified and injured if they are treated
roughly by airline baggage handlers. Some have been left for many hours
in airline handling areas or shipped to the wrong destinations. Dogs have
died of heatstroke in airplane baggage compartments.
Problems also can occur if you take your pet with you in your car. If your
pet is not accustomed to car travel, it may become anxious and endanger
humans by disturbing the driver. Your pet could also become mildly sick
as a result of changing water supplies. More important, if you dont keep
a pet on a leash at all times, it may wander off, become disoriented, and
be lost for good.
Finally, you cant leave your pet alone in a car, even for a brief time,
without exposing it to a serious risk of heatstroke. If you want to take
a dog along, check out the list of hotels and motels that accommodate dogs
in the book Traveling with Your Pet, available from the American Automobile Association for $18.95 ($9.99 for the digital version). We discuss this option more fully here.
Friends and Pet Sitters
Another option is to leave your pet with a friend, neighbor, or pet sitter.
The advantages of having your pet stay with a friend or neighbor are that
you know the individuals who will be caring for it, your pet wont be alone
overnight, and you may save some inconvenience and money. But you cant
be sure how skillfully and carefully a friend or neighbor will care for
your pet: A pet may get lost or injured trying to return to your home;
the pet suffers the stress of separation from you and from its usual environment;
your pet may become anxious and harm the friends belongings, pets, or
family members; and you put a burden on your friend.
Having a pet sitter come to your home to check, feed, exercise, clean up
after, and relate to your pet has some significant advantages. Your pet
stays in familiar surroundings, eats its usual food, and continues familiar
routines (although the timing is likely to be different from when youre
home). Your pet wont be exposed to illnesses or parasites it could pick
up in a kennel. Your pet avoids the stress of staying in an environment
with other animals. In addition, the sitter can provide services such as
picking up newspapers and mail, watering plants, and making your house
look occupied. And you avoid burdening friends or neighbors.
On the other hand, pet sitters come with some important disadvantages.
Whether the sitter is from a commercial pet-sitting service or a neighborhood youngster, you cant be
sure of the skill, knowledge, or diligence he or she brings to the job.
You have to hope the sitter shows up when promised, even if weather or
personal problems make this difficult. Unless you arrange for the sitter
to stay at your home overnight, your pet will still be alone for long hours.
Your pet might still slip away to look for you or damage your home in reaction
to being abandoned. If you use a commercial pet-sitting service, you give
a stranger access to your home. And the cost of careespecially if rendered
by a commercial servicecan be quite high.
You can get leads on local pet-sitting services by checking ratings and
comments posted by subscribers in our pet sitters.
Most of what we hear from pet-sitting customers is positive, but there
are enough negatives to warrant a measure of caution.
Like the other options, using a kennel has pluses and minuses.
Assuming everything goes right, your pet will be taken care of, and you
wont have to worry about last-minute foul-ups. You can be sure that your
pet will not be left alone. Serious health problems will be spotted and
referred to a veterinarian. And you dont have to impose on anyone.
But using a kennel can be expensive and, if its far from your home, inconvenient.
Also, a stay in a kennelif your pet isnt used to itexposes the pet to
the stress of separation from you and from its familiar environment. Stress
makes a pet especially susceptible to disease, and the proximity to other
animals increases its exposure to some kinds of health problems. Many kennels
largely avoid these problems by employing caring, attentive staff and maintaining
comfortable, clean, and stress-free facilities. But based on the astonishing
number of serious complaints we receive from subscribers, you need to exercise
caution when selecting a kennel
My dog died there, they did not answer questions, they did not have a
vet see him, and they kept changing the story. I think they are horrible.
After a two-day stay our dog, who has an iron constitution, came home
ill. He wouldnt eat for two days, vomiting every five to six hours...
The staff seemed unfriendly and uninterested.
They failed on the most important feature: taking good care of the pet.
Our dog was returned to us flea-infested and with bleeding wounds on the
backs of both hind legs from concrete abrasions. They failed to give him
some of his medications on time. I will never use this facility again.
Last time we were there, they had our dog for 10 days and didnt call
us to say he didnt eat for seven days or drink for four days... The dog
has never recovered from this. He was traumatized and still is.
Dog smelled horrible when we picked her up; staff seemed inexperienced;
dog peed in house several times over next few weeks after boarding experience,
making us wonder what happened at kennel, as this is a well-behaved, middle-aged
dog who never had a problem like this before...
Will never go there again. Dog lost weight. He was in a damp kennel with
little more than a rag for a bed.
Our lab came back from this kennel with his tail between his legs, and
went and hid for two days in the bushes. He was shaking and shivering,
wouldnt eat or come into the house. When we called with our concerns they
said that nothing had happened. We later learned from our vet that they
have a no bark policy and will punish dogs that bark with cold jets of
water or other avoidance therapy. Weve never gone back, and our lab
is back to his normal friendly self.
What follows is an effort to help you find a top-quality kennel at a reasonable
To help you choose a kennel that makes you and your pet happy, we gathered
information on Chicago area kennels.
Our Ratings Tables show the results from our surveys of area consumers
(primarily CHECKBOOK and Consumer Reports subscribers) on kennels they
have used. The survey asked consumers to rate their kennels on various
aspects of service, including
Returning dog in good condition
Affection toward dog
Our Ratings Tables report the percent of each kennels surveyed customers
who rated it superior (as opposed to adequate or inferior) on each
question. Though the surveys asked consumers to rate kennels for their
care of dogs, owners of cats and other pets may also find the data useful.
Although pet owners can never be sure they know what a kennel is really
like when outsiders are not around, many pet owners inspect the kennels
they use (everyone should), and most are aware of the condition of their
dogs before and after boarding. (Click here for further discussion of
our customer survey and other research methods.)
As you can see, there is substantial variation in the customer survey ratings.
For example, scores for returning dog in good condition ranged from 40
percent or less to more than 90 percent.
For kennels evaluated in our last full, published report, our Ratings Tables also show complaints we gathered from the Better Business Bureau
(BBB) for a recent three-year period. We checked for complaints on file
against the companies evaluated in our last full, published report with
the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General,
but no complaints were filed against the companies during the two-year
period we searched.
Although this article focuses on kennels, we were unable to select only
those complaints at the BBB that relate to the companies boarding services
(as opposed to complaints about veterinary services or other lines of business).
The complaint counts we report include all complaints filed against the
You can check current BBB complaint information on any company by visiting
www.bbb.org. For any company evaluated in our last full, published
report, subscribers can check current customer survey ratings by clicking
on the companys name and, in the details under the listing, clicking a
link to the BBBs most recent report on complaints about the company.
When using the complaint information, keep in mind that complaints are
not always justified; sometimes customers are unreasonable. Remember that
we didnt have a measure of business volume; large companies are more likely
to incur complaints simply because they serve more customers. Also be aware
that some companies may be at greater risk of incurring complaints than
others because of the specific types of business they do.
In addition to the customer reports shown on our Ratings Tables, you
can check various other elements that bear on a kennels quality. Make
sure to personally inspect any facility you are considering for your pet
and ask questions. Most of the following points relate to finding a kennel
for a dog, but some apply to other pets. For kennels listed on our Ratings Tables, we have checked some of these points for you; youll have to
verify others on your own, and for still others, youll have to take the
Can visitors inspect the kennel at any time during business hours? Youll
obviously learn more about what a kennel is really like if you can inspect
it unannounced, rather than after staff have had a chance to prepare. Its
also reassuring to know that a kennel is always prepared for other visitors
who may drop by while your pet is staying there. Some kennels insist that
letting strangers walk through the entire facility needlessly agitates
the dogs, but we believe thats a price worth paying for the benefits of
openness. A second-best solution is for the kennel to allow visitors to
view boarding areas from behind glass. Whatever the visitors policy, you
can learn a lot by arriving a little earlier than expected to pick up your
pet (but dont show up outside normal checkout hours or come early for
a pet youve had groomed).
Are kennel staff willing and able to answer all of your questions about
kennel policies or your pets stay?
Are there webcams? Some kennels now have webcams that allow owners to watch
over their pets.
Will your dog have its own run? The most common kennel design gives each
dog an indoor stall or pen connected directly to its own outdoor run (at
some kennels the entire run is indoors). An alternative is free-standing
dog houses, each in its own run. Either arrangement virtually ensures that
your dog gets a chance to exercise with little or no effort on the part
of kennel staff.
Another arrangement keeps the animals in cages from which kennel staff
leads them to a common run. Although several 15-minute exercise periods
per day are probably enough for the health of most dogs, this arrangement
is less desirable than the others because you cant be sure the staff will
actually give your dog its scheduled exercise or will clean the exercise
area after each dogs use to prevent the spread of disease. Youre safest
to avoid kennels that dont have cages with their own runs. Kennels without
separate runs for each animalmostly hospitals and clinicsusually rate
considerably lower than facilities with separate runs on the survey question
about returning dog in good condition.
Are the runs and stalls large enough? Runs should be long enough for a
dog to break into a short gallop and wide enough for the dog to wag its
tail without hitting the sides. Four feet by 10 feet is probably adequate
for a medium-size dog, but a large dog may need a longer run. Stalls should
be large enough for a dog to move around comfortably. Cats, which exercise
isometrically (by stretching), dont need runs. A two-by-three-by-three-foot
cage is sufficient, although a bigger space is preferable.
Does each dog have a dry, comfortable bedding area? With a resting board
in a run, dogs dont have to lie on concrete when its wet or hot (in unshaded
runs). A sleeping box with bedding will enhance a dogs comfort and help
it keep warm.
Does every cat cage have a perch for the cat to sit on? While cats are
generally easier to accommodate than dogs, this feature is a must.
Does the kennel provide a play area for cats? This feature is a plus for
active cats that would enjoy additional space.
Do dog runs provide sun, shade, and protection from rain? Sunlight is a
natural disinfectant that seems to improve some dogs health and temperament.
But on hot or rainy days, shelter is essential. Some kennels have removable
covers for their runs; others are constructed so that part of each run
Is there a solid barrier between each cage? Concrete or other solid barriers
18 inches or so high between the stalls give dogs a little privacy and
prevent them from urinating into each others cages.
Does the kennel maintain appropriate temperatures? A good heating and cooling
system is important for your pets comfort. In particular, short-nosed
dogs must be kept cool so they dont suffer heatstroke, and short-haired
dogs must be kept warm.
Does the kennel have a good ventilation system? Canine cough and other
illnesses are spread by airborne viruses. A kennels ventilation system
should provide an air exchange every five minutes or so (although this
may not be practical in very hot or cold weather). Ventilation is especially
important for cats, which are susceptible to some serious respiratory diseases.
Will your cat be separated from dogs? Dog kennels can be extremely noisy,
and may traumatize a cat unaccustomed to the constant barking.
Is the kennel adequately lighted? Your pet should get artificial or natural
light for at least 10 to 12 hours per day.
Is the kennels fencing adequate? The fencing around individual runs and
around the entire kennel area should be solid enough and high enough to
prevent dogs from escaping and getting into each others runs, and to prevent
strays from intruding. Chain-link fences with two-inch or smaller squares
are ideal. If runs are not covered, or if a section at the top of each
fence is not slanted in, some dogs will be able to jump or climb over them.
The bottom of the fence should extend to within about two inches of the
ground. Unless the ground under the fence is concrete or another impenetrable
substance, some dogs will try to escape by burrowing. If kennel staff is
alert to the escape artists, all enclosures do not have to be equally secure.
Does the kennel have a central-reporting fire alarm system? Are working
smoke detectors installed throughout the facility?
Health Screening and Prevention
Does the kennel require proof of vaccinations? Animals are much more likely
to get sick in kennels than at home. First, they are exposed to illnesses
carried by other animals in the kennel (in this respect, boarding a dog
in a kennel is similar to putting a child in daycare). Second, the stress
they experience while in a kennel makes them unusually susceptible to illness.
A kennel that requires appropriate vaccinations forces you to take the
proper steps to protect your pet and reduces the chances that other kennel
residents are diseased. Dogs should have the following vaccinations: DHLPP
(canine distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus),
rabies, and bordetella (canine cough). Cats should have FVRCP (feline distemper
and upper respiratory diseases) and rabies vaccinations. Your veterinarian
may wish to vaccinate for other transmissible diseases (e.g., feline leukemia),
so consult the vet prior to boarding.
Are animals carefully examined at check-in? Kennel staff should examine
each animals eyes, ears, mouth, genitals, anal area, skin, and coat to
detect any disease or parasites. If an animal has fleas, most kennels will
treat it at your expense.
Does the kennel have an isolation room? Although a kennel should refer
serious medical problems to a veterinary hospital, it should have an isolation
room for sick animals. The isolation room should be completely separate
from the area where the other animals are housed, and have solid walls
and doors and a separate ventilation system.
Is the kennel clean? Cleanliness is critical to your pets health. Carefully
inspect the kennels floors, walls, and fences. Also be sure that water
and disinfectant have not formed puddles. Take a good look each time you
drop off or pick up your pet.
How does the kennel smell? Kennels should not be foul-smelling. A mild
smell of disinfectant is fine, but a strong disinfectant smell might be
masking other odors.
Is bedding washed daily, or whenever it becomes soiled?
Is the facility in good repair? Jagged pieces of fence and other flaws
may be dangerous.
Care and Comfort
What food options are available? Find out what kind of food the kennel
serves. If you are unfamiliar with the brand, ask your vet about it. If
your pet is a picky eater, ask whether the kennel offers a choice of different
brands and types; some do. Or find out whether the kennel will use pet
food that you provide; most will, but some charge for this service.
How flexible is the kennel about its feeding schedule? Most kennels feed
dogs only once a day, but some older dogs should be fed twice a day. If
your dog is on a twice-a-day schedule, find out whether the kennel will
Is clean water always available to each animal?
Is some form of bedding provided to each dog?
Can you bring your pets toys and bedding? Most kennels will allow this,
but it does pose sanitation problems and requires extra effort on the kennels
part. And because most kennels wont guarantee that youll get back what
you bring, dont bring more than necessary.
Will the kennel give your dog extra individualized exercise by special
arrangement? Most offer this service, sometimes for an extra fee. If your
dog has a separate indoor/outdoor run, it will probably get plenty of exercise
without a special arrangement. But individualized exercise provides beneficial
If the facilitys runs dont have outdoor access, when are dogs let out
to relieve themselves? Some kennels let dogs out first thing in the morning,
a few times during the day, and then one last time before closing, which
might be as early as 6 p.m. This means dogs cant go outdoors for 12 hours
or longer. If your dog requires more frequent outdoor access, particularly
during evenings, ask if arrangements can be madeand at what times extra
breaks can be scheduled.
Will the kennel administer shots and pills? All of the kennels we surveyed
will administer pills, though some charge extra for it. Many will administer
shots. It is essential to continue many types of medications (such as heartworm
preventatives) during boarding.
Does the staff show affection for the animals? Most individuals who work
in kennels do so at least in part because they like animals. Be sure thats
the case at your kennel.
Is the staff experienced and well-informed? Check how long the kennel has
been in business under the same management. Note how staff responds to
What are the arrangements for veterinary care, if necessary? If you have
a regular veterinarian, check whether the kennel will use him or her. Expect
to pay for transportation and vet fees.
Is a staff member on the premises 24 hours a day? If not, how does the
kennel ensure the welfare and comfort of pets throughout the night?
Do the animals appear to be happy?
Are grooming and other services available?
Will you be able to check in on your pet while away? Many kennels now have
webcams that let customers monitor their pets.
Is the kennel a veterinary hospital (or clinic)? On average, non-hospitals
rated higher than hospitals on almost every question. Several veterinarians
have pointed out that healthy pets that board at animal hospitals or clinics
are more prone to return home with a disease picked up from hospitalized
pets. One vet asked, Would you go to a hospital for a vacation?
Although your first considerations are the health and comfort of your pet,
you also need to consider price. The price differences among kennels are
substantial. For example, we found that boarding a 35-pound Springer Spaniel
for a week would cost $126 at Animal Medical Center of Itasca or LouBelles
Kennels in South Holland and $385 at Spikes Hotel in Oak Park.
There appears to be no correlation between quality and price. Several of
the lower priced kennels provide top-quality service.
Our Ratings Tables provide provides information for determining the
least expensive kennel for your dog or cat. The tables show per-day prices
for four different sizes of dogs, a pair of medium-size dogs boarded in
the same run, and a cat. Some kennels charge more per day as dogs get larger.
But at other kennels size matters less. Cats are generally less expensive
than even the smallest dogs. Some kennels offer discounts of a dollar or
so per day per dog if two of your dogs share the same run.
In the details under each kennels listing (click on company names} we
also show prices for various services, such as special exercise or administering
medicine. These special services are free at many kennels, although some
charge $8 or more per day for 15 minutes of special exercise.
Also ask about another factor that can significantly affect cost: check-in
and check-out times. A number of kennels charge for only one day if you
check in your pet in the morning of the first day and check out the afternoon
of the second day. Others charge for two days if you check in before noon
or check out after noon, even for an overnight stay. Ask the following
questions when calling kennels:
If I leave my pet for an overnight stay, what is the earliest I can check
in without paying for two days? What is the latest I can check out without
paying for two days?
Determine exactly when the kennel is open for drop-off and pickup. A common
complaint is that facilities dont have convenient hours for drop-off or
pick-up, particularly on weekends. If the kennel is closed on Sundays,
for example, youd have to pay for a Sunday-night stay even though you
are back in townand ready to pick up your peton Sunday morning. Or it
might charge a special fee for the kennel staff to meet you at the kennel
for a pickup outside regular hours. So, ask:
What are your normal hours for checking in and checking out pets, without
additional pick-up/drop-off fees? What arrangements, if any, can be made
for drop-off or pick-up outside those hoursand how much does it cost?
For your pets kennel stay to go well, its not enough to select a kennel
carefully; you also have to prepare your pet properly and care for it properly
after its stay.
The first step in preparation is to, from an early age, teach your pet
to get along with other people. One way to do this with dogs is obedience
training. Second, make sure your pet has had all appropriate vaccinations.
Since production of antibodies takes time, have your pet vaccinated at
least two weeks prior to boarding. (Our ratings of area veterinarians are here.) Third, check your pet for ticks and other parasites. Fourth,
do not feed your dog for three or four hours before going to the kennel;
this will minimize the risk of indigestion.
At check-in, tell the kennel how to reach you or someone else who can make
decisions about your pet. Provide the name and phone number of your vet.
If your pet is taking any medications, provide an adequate supply along
with written instructions. If your pet needs a certain kind of food or
other special treatment, leave written instructions and any needed supplies
(and be prepared to pay extra for such special services).
Discuss any unusual health conditions or personality traits (such as climbing
fences or biting), and mention any special fears (for example, thunder,
rain, sirens). Finally, dont exhibit a lot of emotion; your pet will sense
it and get even more upset than otherwise. If possible, leave while your
pet is still in the reception area, so that it will know that you are gone
when it is taken to its quarters.
After you pick up your pet, dont feed it for several hours. If your dog
is thirsty, give it some crushed ice. In the excitement of seeing you,
a dog is likely to overeat or over-drink, with resulting digestion problems.
As another way to learn about the kennels, we surveyed area veterinarians
and asked them to name the two boarding kennels they consider most desirable
for boarding a dog and the two they consider least desirable.
Below, we have listed the kennels from our Ratings Tables that received
the highest number of positive mentions from our survey of vets while receiving
no least desirable votes.
There is a correlation between the veterinarian ratings and the customer
survey ratings. At the time of our last full, published report kennels
that received the most favorable mentions from vets got an average score
of 81 percent on the returning dog in good condition question, while
those that received the most negative mentions got an average score of
Best Friends Pet Care, Chicago (4 mentions)
Best Friends Pet Care, Prairie View (4 mentions)
Kountry Pet Resort & Training Center, Hampshire (3 mentions)
Naperville Kountry Kennels, Naperville (4 mentions)
Pawsitively Heaven Pet Resort, Chicago Ridge (9 mentions)
T.O.P.S. in Dog Training Kennel, Grayslake (7 mentions)
If you are considering a pet-sitting service, there are several points
to keep in mind.
Pet-sitting services are usually more expensive than stays for a single
pet at a kennelpet sitters generally charge between $45 and $55 per day
for one pet. (See the table below for charges quoted by a sample of area
pet-sitting services to CHECKBOOK shoppers.) Most services offer discounts
for additional pets, and some charge by the visit, regardless of the number
of pets they care for. So if you have more than one pet, a pet-sitting
service might cost less than a kennel.
|All Good Dogs Pet Care |
|Amalia’s Pet Care |
|Animal Companions |
|Chicago Pet Sitters |
|Pet Patrol |
Orland Park 708-349-3647
|Pet Sitters of America|
|Pet Sitters of Mount Prospect|
Mount Prospect 847-590-5233
|Pet Sitting by Lorrie |
Winthrop Harbor 847-731-8858
|Pet Watchers Northwest |
|Professional Pet Partners |
Unfortunately, because you cant inspect a pet-sitting service as you can
a kennel, you have to depend on what the company says it will do. (However,
you may be able to observe a dog-walking service in action in the same
area where you walk yours.)
You can find pet-sitting services by asking other pet owners or veterinarians.
Also consider services that have received favorable recommendations and
comments from CHECKBOOK subscribers in our Pet Sitters section. Here is our advice for choosing a service
Ask to see current documentation that the service is bonded and carries
Check references. Ask for references in your neighborhoodit can prevent
the company from choosing only its most satisfied customers. Also, your
neighbors might be more conscientious than other customers about giving
a thorough reference.
Meet with the specific individual who will be caring for your pet. Invite
this person to your home to see how he or she gets along with your pet.
Note whether the sitter asks detailed questions about your pets habits
Ask how much time the sitter will spend on each visit, and what the sitter
will do with your pet.
Ask about the sitters training and experience, and how long the sitter
has been working with the pet-sitting service.
Find out what happens if the sitter becomes ill or cant come to your home
because of an emergency.
Ask if the sitter will take your pet to your veterinarian if the pet becomes
Find out what special services the sitter offers. Most will administer
shots and medications, provide light grooming, rotate lights and curtains
to make your home look lived-in, care for houseplants, and bring in and
forward mail. Some will call you at regular times to report on your pet,
water outdoor plants, and stay in your home overnight. Most offer a key
hold arrangement in which they keep a copy of your house key so that they
can go to your home if you unexpectedly have to work late or need them
for some other reason.
Check prices and exactly what is covered at each price level.
Once you have chosen a service, you need to work with it to ensure your
pet gets the best possible care.
Make arrangements as early as possible, especially for holiday periods.
Give the pet sitter both written and oral descriptions of your pets routines
and habitswhen, where, and how the pet eats, sleeps, walks, and plays.
Describe any health problems and medication routines. Be sure the pet sitter
knows where to find food, medications, and toys. If the pet might hide,
tell the pet sitter where to look.
Give the sitter a phone number where you can be reached while away.
Buy plenty of food, litter, medicines, and other suppliesenough to last
if you are unexpectedly delayed.
Be sure the pet has identification tags, and that the sitter knows where
to find verification of vaccinations.
If your dog is not used to walking on a leash, practice with it. Your sitter
should use a leash.
Give the sitter the name and phone number of a veterinarian and a neighbor.
Let your neighbors know that a sitter will be coming to your home, lest
they suspect foul play.
Call the sitter the day before you leave to make sure he or she is coming.
Call after you have been away for a few days to answer any questions.
Before taking your pet along on a trip, consider the following advice,
drawn from several publications, including the American Automobile Associations
Traveling with Your Pet.
Be conscious of your pets capabilities and prepare your pet for the trip.
Dont plan a camping trip with arduous hikes if your pet leads a sedentary
Before your trip, take your pet to the vet for a check-up, and make sure
all vaccinations are current. Most states require proof of vaccinations
Obtain a health certificate from your vet no earlier than 10 days before
Make sure your pet has a collar ID with its name, your name, home address,
and phone number.
If you will be using a crate, make sure it is large enough for your pet
to stand, sit, and change positions.
Bring familiar toys or bedding to make your pet more comfortable in an
unfamiliar environment. Maintain your dogs regular feeding and exercise
schedules, and stop often to let your dog stretch and urinate.
Sedatives and tranquilizers may be harmful to your pet. Drug your pet only
if your veterinarian recommends it.
Dont forget food and water bowls, a brush or a comb, towels to wipe muddy
paws, and plastic bags.
Although many air passengers travel with their pets without incident, risks
Pets can experience breathing difficulties at high altitudes.
Pets may suffer from exposure to temperature extremes. Tarmac and cargo
holds where pets waitfirst to be loaded onto the plane and then for the
plane to taxi to the runway, take off, or unloadare subject to extreme
temperatures. Heat emanating from a cement surface, coupled with the heat
from plane engines, can quickly cause heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Even after the sun goes down, cargo holds can retain and emit heat. Delay
can be a problem: The temperature in the cargo hold can become too hot
(or too colddepending on the season) when a plane waits at the gate or
on the runway for extended periods.
Airline staffs make mistakes. Pets have been forgotten and left on the
tarmac in extreme temperatures. Pets have been sent to the wrong destination,
requiring long and harrowing trips to correct the error.
Pets can suffer from nervous disorders and trauma. Noise(s) in the cargo
hold can be frightening to pets. Also, air turbulence can traumatize pets,
and pets can suffer from air-sickness.
Not all destinations will welcome your pet. Hawaii and many foreign destinations
have quarantine laws that require pets to be sequestered before joining
you. Some forbid the entry of pets altogether.
If your pet must fly, follow these steps to ensure your pets safety:
Call the airline or visit its website to determine the policies, procedures,
and restrictions for flying with a pet.
Try to book a nonstop flight.
Check if your pet can fly with you in the passenger cabin as carry-on luggage.
Most airlines now allow this for a limited number of pets per plane in
carriers small enough to fit underneath passenger seats. Youll need to
make a reservation.
Call the airline the day before your trip to reconfirm your pets reservation.
Check whether the airline requires a health certificate for your petmost
now require them for pets checked as baggage, but not for pets carried
on. If necessary, get your veterinarian to supply a certificate.
If you must fly during the warm season (or to warm climates), try to fly
early in the morning or late at night; if you fly during winter, try to
fly during the day.
Make sure the crate for your pet is USDA-approved for shipping animals.
The crate should be large enough so your pet can stand up, turn around,
and lie down. Be sure its latches are in working order. Also make sure
the crate is securely closed, but dont lock the cratein case your pet
must be removed in an emergency.
Line the crate with absorbent material.
Write LIVE ANIMAL in large letters on the top of the crate and on at
least one side. Draw arrows to indicate prominently the upright position
of the crate.
Make sure all the airline tags on your pets crate have your correct destination
If checking your pet as baggage, secure an empty food and water dish to
the inside of the crate. For trips longer than 12 hours, attach a plastic
bag containing dry food and feeding instructions. These items (which should
be attached to the crate) must be accessible to airline personnel.
Never leave a pet alone in a car.
Think about whether your pets age and temperament are appropriate for
the trip. Young dogs or cats who may not have sufficient training can become
burdens throughout the trip. Older dogs may not be physically fit for the
rigors of a long trip.
For safety, it is important that a dog responds to such voice commands
as sit, stay, and down.
A crate-trained pet is more likely to feel safe in an unfamiliar environment,
and hotel/motel staff may be more inclined to allow your pet if you tell
them the pet is crated.
When you call for a reservation in a hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast,
determine whether pets are allowed. If so, ask about the facilities rules
and whether you will be charged any additional fees.