Faith Eversole On Having A Pet-Sitter To Boarding At A Kennel

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I decided to create this series of articles to address the top questions I’ve been asked as a veterinary technician. I’m a CVDT (Certified Veterinary Dental Technician), have been in the field for over ten years and have noticed a trend in the most commonly asked questions by pet owners. The answers found in these articles will reflect how things have been done in my experience only; keep in mind that all veterinarians and veterinary hospitals have varying policies and techniques.

We’ll take a look at the differences between boarding your pet in a kennel-like environment compared to having an in-home pet sitter provide the care your pet needs. Every pet is different and will react to each situation differently. Many pets do just fine while boarding in a kennel while others do best when staying in their own home. For the purpose of this article, I interviewed local pet sitter and fellow veterinary technician, Donna Klamo to get her insight on the kennel verses pet sitting comparison.

Having an in home pet sitter has many benefits compared in kennel boarding. One benefit is potentially less stress for the pet. According to Donna, “A lot of dogs have separation anxiety and do not do well in a kennel type atmosphere. Some do not even eat while kenneling.”

If you are able to find a pet sitter with a background in veterinary medicine, as is the case with Donna, you can rest assured that your pet sitter will be more apt to catch any problems in a timely manner. This is also a benefit as there has been training with medication administration such as oral medicines, injections such as insulin, and medicines that may also have side effects to be aware of.

Pet sitters will often do more than simply sit with the pet. “Pet sitting requires a lot of love and attention, medicating, making sure the pet is comfortable without their owners, making sure they get adequate potty breaks and the play time and walks that are needed.” Most pet sitters will also provide some additional services such as bringing in the mail and watering the plants. It may surprise you to learn that many will also stay in your home overnight with your pet so that there is minimal disruption to your pets’ routine.

So how do you make sure that your pet sitter is the best for the job? When meeting with a new client, Donna says “I like to come into the home and introduce myself prior to sitting. I want to make sure the owners are comfortable with me. I have many references that I can give out to help them feel more at ease. I can reassure that the pets will be well taken care of and loved like there my own.” The best way to make sure you can trust a new pet sitter is to ask lots of questions and to expect to be asked lots of questions in return. They should be just as interested in you, your pet and your routine as you are in them. If you aren’t comfortable with them, then go with your gut and find someone you are comfortable with.

With all that being said, kennel boarding isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If your dog has the temperament to tolerate it and it is most convenient and cost effective for you, then go for it! Many dogs do great in a kennel environment. As with pet sitting, vaccinations need to be kept up to date but when working with a kennel you’ll likely need to have additional vaccinations and some minor tests, such as a fecal, kept up.

There are a few things to keep an eye on when searching for a good kennel for boarding your pet. First of all, call ahead and make sure they will board your particular type of pet. Pretty much all kennels will board dogs and cats but if you’ve got a bird, reptile, amphibian, pocket pet, arachnid, or even large animals you may benefit more from having a sitter come into your home.

Secondly, take a trip out to the kennel prior to the day when you need their boarding services. It should be clean, well kept and odor free. The animals should appear to be happy and healthy and have plenty of opportunities to stay stimulated to prevent boredom. The staff should be more than willing to allow you to see their facilities and be able to answer any questions you have about their services. Question their policies, as well on emergency situations and what would happen should something happen with your pet. If they can’t handle an emergency in a way that you feel comfortable, move on!

When comparing any two things you always have to take a look at costs. Initially, pet sitting will almost always seem more expensive than boarding in a kennel. As in the case with Donna, a flat rate is charged for the first pet per day, with each additional pet adding a nominal fee. These fees cover everything discussed previously such as medication administration, extra play time, general care and basic house duties.

She says, “The more pets you have the more cost effective it would be to have a pet sitter. With a kennel, you’re getting charged per animal, for extra play time and/or for giving medication. As a pet sitter I charge a flat rate that includes all the play time they need, and medication.”

Take a look around in your area ahead of time to become familiar with local boarding facilities and pet sitters. If you can find a pet sitter with experience and training in the field and feel this is the best option for your pet, then get to know them before you need them. If you’re looking for a kennel, simply pay them a visit and try to pick up on your vibe and feelings of whether or not you feel comfortable leaving your pet there. Whether you’re considering a pet sitter or a kennel, call around to local veterinary clinics and ask them if they recommend any one in particular. While many dogs can board for a lengthy period of time and not be the least bit stressed in a kennel, there are those that simply cannot be away from home.

Compare the two options for your pet’s care away and choose the one that is best for everyone involved. When you hire a pet sitter, you may end up giving him or her the best compliment they can receive. “Honestly, what I love the most about this job, is when the owner calls me afterwards and they say ‘He didn’t even care I was home. It was like I was never gone!'”


–   Contributed By Faith Eversole, Yahoo Contributor Network, Jun 2, 2010