Tips for Finding Pet Care This Holiday Season


It’s a common dilemma over the holidays: what to do with your pet when you go away.

Having to ask friends and family can be stressful and embarrassing, and many pet owners feel uncomfortable using kennels and catteries.

We spoke to a veterinarian and three dog owners about how to keep pets happy, comfortable, and well-groomed while on vacation.

Vacation Pet Care Tips From A Veterinarian

Visit kennels or catteries before booking

While friends and neighbors can look after your pet for a weekend, longer trips may require a kennel or cattery.

“If you can, visit those catteries or kennels to see if you’re happy with the conditions. If you have friends or neighbors with pets, get word of mouth feedback,” says veterinarian Leanne Pinfold, who works at Melbourne’s Lort Smith Veterinary Hospital.

Another tip: Bringing toys, a dog bed, or something familiar could help your pet adjust to their new surroundings.

Cats do better when left alone than dogs

While dogs can cause problems even when left alone for short periods of time, cats tend to do better, says Dr. Pinfold.

“They would really need someone to come in and make sure they have plenty of food and water and that their litter box is clean. As long as that is provided, they are probably quite happy to be left alone in the house. House.”

If you have an unusual pet, your options are limited

While dog and cat owners are spoiled for choice, if you have an unusual lizard, fish, or other pet, you often have only one option left: friends or family, says Dr. Pinfold. .

“Unfortunately, I don’t know of any place where you can take unusual pets for long-term boarding,” she says.

If the animals stay together, make sure they get along

Jo Gardiner lives in Melbourne with Teddy, a golden retriever. She likes to travel when she can, but she isn’t comfortable leaving it in a kennel.

Teddy, a Golden Retriever, sits next to a poodle named Beau.
Teddy occasionally stays with Jo’s friends and their pet poodle Beau.(

Provided: Jo Gardiner


“I want to trust whoever he’s with. If there are 10 other dogs [at the kennel], are they sick? Would they attack him? There are too many unknowns, so I go to great lengths to plan ahead, ”she says.

Teddy will usually stay with the family, but Jo’s advice is to make sure any pets that stay together get along before making arrangements.

“I had a problem… my sister-in-law called and said Teddy couldn’t stay because his dog was harassing him. I was going to Noosa that day so I had to call my friend… and it really stressed me out, “she says.

During busy holiday periods, many people travel and kennels and catteries are often booked well in advance. That’s why Jo suggests planning early and thinking about your pet before booking accommodation or making travel arrangements.

Teddy, a Golden Retriever, (left) and his friend Archie (right) hang out at Christmas in 2018.
Last Christmas, Jo and Teddy welcomed a good friend called Archie (right).(

Provided: Jo Gardiner


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How to find house sitters you can trust

Julie Ross lives on a five-acre property in Alice Springs with her family and Archie, a miniature poodle.

Julie tends to rely on the caretakers of the house when she leaves, but she has had an experience that would horrify many pet owners.

“We had a bird aviary, a Siamese cat, and a German shepherd and this person was supposed to stay in our house the entire time we were away, and they didn’t,” she says.

“It was a real disappointment. I still haven’t forgiven this person and that was about 25 years ago.”

Archie, a white, wet-haired miniature poodle, for a story on caring for pets when you need to travel.
Julie had a bad experience with a babysitter, so she’s very careful who she lets take care of Archie.(

Provided: Julie Ross


Fortunately, Julie’s neighbors knew what was going on: they threw bones over the fence for the dog and sprayed the dog’s aviary and bowl with water.

All the animals survived, but Julie’s cat was not doing well.

Here are some tips from Julie for finding the right house sitter:

  • If you can, get someone you know, ideally with their own pets.
  • Julie tends to look for responsible adolescents in her social circles. “You’ve seen them in their home environment with their own pets before,” she says.
  • If you have friends with pets, they’re more likely to be interested, especially if you can reciprocate later.

Lately Julie has been trying to get Archie on vacation whenever she can.

Archie came camping and Julie booked pet-friendly motels for an upcoming road trip to Port Lincoln, 1,500 kilometers from Alice.

Archie the poodle sits under a stove at Julie's campsite, for a story about pet care on vacation.
Archie, the miniature poodle, sometimes comes to camp with Julie and her husband.(

Provided: Julie Ross


Why Mark is taking Meer with him whenever he can

Mark Ewins has a special relationship with his dog, Meer, short for Meerkat.

When traveling for work or to see friends in Sydney, Mark tries to bring Meer with him. Last time around, it only cost him an extra $ 90 as Meer weighed less than 10 kilograms with his crate.

After six or seven hours alone on a plane, Meer was a little stressed, but she recovered quickly.

“As soon as she saw me I took her out, and one of the guys [at the airport] was smiling, she sat on my lap and we walked back to the car and everything was cool, ”he said.

Mark rides a bike with his dog Meer, for a story about seeking care for traveling pets.
Meer is a regular at the Pilates studio where Mark works, and he often leaves her with his clients.(

Provided: Mark Ewins


Meer was a rescue dog and came into Mark’s life about six months after his mother died. She follows him everywhere, to Darwin’s Pilates studio where he works.

Because Meer and Mark are inseparable, many of her friends and clients share a close bond with the dog, and he often receives offers from people to care for her.

Most of the time, Meer stays with one of Mark’s older clients who has his own dogs.

“I wouldn’t give Meer to someone I don’t know or to someone who’s never spent time with her before,” he says.

“I would generally choose people who have experience with dogs. If all goes well, I put them on the list.”

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