The holidays and winter months tend to be a busy time of year for Comox Valley “snow birds” seeking out a sunny beach south of the border. However, these past few exceptionally, (record breaking), rainy months have been taking its toll on all of us. A warm, DRY, exotic location might just be what the doctor ordered! Sounds like the perfect solution to our rainy day blues, right? Unfortunately, hopping on a plane last minute can be a challenge if you have pets at home. Leaving your beloved pet behind during your travels can be difficult, even heartbreaking. Here are some tips to help lessen the worry during your travels.
Find a good pet sitter. If you are not sure where to start, talk to friends, family members, dog trainers or your family veterinarian who may have a list of names or pet sitting companies they can share with you. Once you are comfortable with your choice of caretaker, think of the things that you need to prepare for your time away. Naturally, you are going to leave the essentials – your emergency contact information, the phone number and address of your veterinarian, your pet’s medication and feeding schedule. Let’s look at how you can go above and beyond to ensure your pet’s “stay-cation” goes smoothly.
- Write It Down
Providing a loving environment for your pet may seem intuitive to you, but recalling every detail can be a challenge. Write out your pet’s daily routine. Your pet likes routine and breaking out of that can cause some anxiety. Little things like daily trips to the mail box before breakfast or a Sunday car ride to your favourite coffee shop for a doggy treat are all part of your pet’s “normal” routine. This is something that your pet sitter may be able to continue in your absence. Leave your vet’s information in a visible spot that can be seen easily in case of an emergency. A letter to your vet giving permission for your pet sitter to treat and that you will be responsible for the bill is also helpful. Please be specific in this letter. Express what to do in the case of a traumatic injury or acute illness. Is there a monetary limit on heroic measures? What are your after-care wishes in the unfortunate event that your pet passes while you are away? Do you want to be notified as soon as possible if your pet passes or would you rather wait until you’ve returned safely from your trip? How should your pet sitter and your veterinarian proceed if you simply cannot be reached?
- Stick to a Schedule
As mentioned above- pets like routine. If you break this routine, they will usually just stare at you in disbelief. Don’t believe us? Try feeding your cats their dinner 20 minutes late and see how they react. Pet sitters would benefit from knowing that your dogs get up around 7 am and go outside for a little romp in the backyard to do their business before they have breakfast which includes their morning medication. This is followed by a regular brushing/grooming session while you typically skim over the newspaper and drink your morning coffee. These are all small details but can be useful tips for your pet sitter if they are having a difficult time with house soiling or refusal to eat or take medications. Your pet sitter may need to know that ‘Louie’ will break into the cupboard and spill his cat treats all over the counter if you don’t feed him before 6:00 pm. And that ‘Millie’ won’t take her liquid joint supplement unless you actually put it on her kibble but must leave those kibbles outside of her dish, duh!
- Pet Personality Profile
Just like people, our little fur-babies have their personalities and a long list of the things they like or dislike. Some pets are the biggest cuddlers of life, and all they want is human contact for as long as they can get it. They don’t understand that a 15lb, purring, fur-ball on your head at night is not desirable. On the other hand, there are pets that want to be fed, walked and have the occasional belly scratch but that’s as much affection as they seek and it’s always on their terms. It’s important for your pet sitter to be aware of these personality differences. Too much attention or too little attention can equally trigger anxiety.
- Ruffing up the Rules
Just like children, dogs will test the rules!! Make sure your pet sitter knows if your dog is allowed on the bed or if they are allowed table scraps. Routine, routine, routine!
- Don’t Make a Fuss
When leaving, please don’t make a fuss. We know it’s hard to leave your fur-baby behind. We know you’re going to miss them, but what are they feeling? Your pet looks to you to know how they should react to a situation. If you are stressed or upset when saying goodbye, they will be too. Take a quick walk with your companion to expel some energy and then keep it casual, as if you were just going to work or out for dinner. By keeping your emotions checked, hopefully, your pet is snoozing on their pillow and won’t even notice you’re gone by the time you’ve reached the airport. Of course, the big slobbery kisses you’ll get upon your return will let you know they still love you!
Written by Van Isle Veterinary Hospital