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Separation Anxiety: What to Do When You Must Travel Without Your Pet


Do you fret when you need to leave your pet overnight with someone else? We often talk about our pets having separation anxiety when it comes to us leaving them home alone, but when a furry companion is part of the family, it can be just as stressful for owners to travel without their pets. Here is sound advice for selecting someone to care for your pet responsibly and lovingly. 

Selecting a Sitter

There are numerous high-quality pet sitters and boarding services available these days, but securing the right person to tend to your beloved animal isn’t always easy. If you don’t have an appropriate friend or family member to leave your pet with, there are other good options. You can go through online services that connect you with people, and there are even pet sitters who have specialized credentials such as the training in companion animal first-aid. There are some people who think pet sitting is easy, but experienced sitters are worth securing and will often offer a written contract for their services. You can interview potential candidates before making your selection, and the National Association of Pet Sitters recommends scheduling a meet-and-greet to ensure the sitter is a good match. This is a chance to see how your pet interacts with the sitter, as well as to check your own comfort level. 

In-Home Care

Will someone tend to your pet in your home? Family members, friends, or neighbors are sometimes willing to stay in your home if it’s just a night or two, and if you have someone reliable, this could make for an easy solution. Cats can often be left alone if you’re going away for just one night, and some professional pet sitters house sit as well as pet sit.

If you expect your pet to remain in your home while you’re away, you should do some extra pet-proofing. For cats, the litter boxes should be cleaned so they aren’t tempted to potty elsewhere, and furniture should be appropriately covered to protect it from toenails and fur. Offer your family feline a scratching post, and keep electrical cords and cleaning supplies safely where your kitty won’t encounter them while you’re gone.

For your pooch, ensure trash is secured, laundry is put away, and foods and toxic products are out of reach. If your dog is staying at the pet sitter’s home, VetStreet notes you should look for someone who offers an environment as similar to what your dog is used to as possible. If you allow your dog on furniture and to sleep in bed with you, try to find someone who offers the same circumstances. Also, keep in mind that dogs who are unfamiliar to crates or doggie doors will need training in those areas before being left with someone who expects to use them. 

Preparations and Supplies

The American Kennel Club points out that you should gather all your pet’s necessities before leaving for your trip. Ensure you have plenty of food on hand in case you are gone longer than expected, and leave detailed feeding instructions. Don’t expect someone to remember verbal instructions; written information allows you and the sitter to clarify as needed. Also, note if your pets are on different foods, as well as any medications, potty schedules, and sleep routines. Leave your vet’s information, a local emergency contact, and your own emergency contact information. You also might want to leave some of your pet’s favorite things with the sitter, such as toys, blankets, and bedding. Consult a checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything. 

You can travel with peace of mind by enacting a few simple strategies that will protect your pet and ensure good care while you’re away. Do your research to find the right sitter for your situation, prepare wisely, and gather your pet’s supplies. While there is no substitute for your tender loving care, there are reliable pet sitters who are willing to help.--Guest post by Michael Bourke, the co-creator of SciCamps, which is currently in its very early stages, but aims to provide people with learning resources outside of the classroom. Michael is a former boy scout and is a current lover of the outdoors and nature. 

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