If you have a dog or cat, finding them a safe and comfortable home over Christmas and the winter holidays is a challenge. Here are the pros and cons of your seven best options. Thanks to my Mom who gave me the idea for this post!
Option No. 1 is to find a friend who can take care of your pet(s) at their home. Offer to drop off and pick up Fido to reduce the burden on your friend. A friend will rarely ask for money, but be sure to repay the favor by taking care of their animals at a later date, or by showing your appreciation with a token gift. This can be a great arrangement if the friend and animal like each others’ company. If the friend has their own pets, do they all get along? Cost: free gift or pet sitting for them.
Option No. 2 is to find a neighbor who can swing by to feed, walk, pet, and water your animals. The animal remains in the comfort of their home, but is alone for the majority of the time. Cats need less attention and could go for a week like this, but dogs may be able to handle it for a weekend only. I would not leave a dog alone by itself all day for more than 2-3 days at a time. As with Option No. 1, make sure to repay the neighbor appropriately. A bottle of wine and/or homemade treats are a nice idea. Cost: free gift.
Option No. 3. is to hire a dog walker who can come by to walk, feed, pet, and water your four-legged friend. Same pros and cons as Option No. 2, the cost of the walker. Check references and make sure you trust the individual, who will need a key to your home. Cost: about $15 per visit. Some walkers have daily minimums.
Option No. 4 is to find a friend who can pet sit. This works out well for everyone because the sitter has a free place to stay, can hang out with the pets, and take in your mail! It is an inconvenience for the sitter to live at your house, however, so it’s not uncommon to offer to pay the sitter, even if the person is a friend. On the other hand, if you live in a prized destination the sitter may consider the stay a vacation and be happy to get free lodging. Cost: depends.
Option No. 5 is to hire a pet sitter. Similar to Option No. 4, but with a bill. Cost: about $50 per day. Make sure you trust the individual and check their references carefully.
Option No. 6 is to board your animal at the vet or at a boarding service. The quality can range widely on boarding facilities, so ask friends for references or stick to a place you’ve used before with good results. You will need to show proof of vaccinations and your animal may have to pass a test to ensure they play well with others. Cost: $40 and up per day.
Option No. 7 is to take your animal with you. Traveling by car with an animal is easy. Make sure they have enough space and won’t get tossed around too much on turns. Some folks use a pet car seat, though it is not required. Time their pit stops with your own and check they are welcome at your destination. Cost: free and consider a hostess gift for taking in your furry friend.
Traveling with animals by plane is tricky. Airlines limit how many pets are allowed on every flight so call ahead to reserve a space. Many airlines require you to stash Fifi or Fido in a cage that stays under a seat the entire time, which means your pet will have to hang tight in a small space for hours. Ask your vet about sedatives. Also, this means your pet has to hold it or go in the cage. Messy and smelly! Airlines have rules that prohibit pets on the tarmac during extreme temperatures. Make sure to have a back up plan if the weather is awfully cold or hot where you live. It’s a good idea to take your pet on a short flight before going cross-country trip. Cost: $75-$250 per domestic flight and one of the most expensive options.
What are you doing with your pets during the holidays?