Prep Your Pet for Vacation


It’s vacation season, and unless you’re visiting a pet-friendly destination you’ll likely hand off your furry friend to an expert caregiver.

Lucky you: we have a long list of top-notch boarding facilities, pet resorts and in-home sitters who can pamper your pet while you’re away.

You can make your trip as painless as possible—for both of you—with a little prep work.


Vacation Basics

  • Whether your pooch is staying off site or at home, it pays to have him properly socialized, able to follow basic commands and trained to walk on a leash.
  • Get your pet in the habit of wearing a collar and ID tag.
  • If possible before your trip, have the sitter visit a couple of times for a walk around the block or a trip to a dog beach, or drop him off at the boarding facility for an afternoon of playtime.
  • Let your caregiver know if your pet has a history of biting or aggression or, on the flip side, nerves around other pets. “If a dog is extremely anxious,” said Maria Dales of Country Care Pet Resort,  “we recommend Thundershirts™, available at major pet retailers, to help reduce the dog’s stress level.”
  • Wherever he stays, leave behind a few comfort items for your pet. “If it’s impossible to bring a bed,” Dales said, “then a sweatshirt with the scent of the family members is recommended.”

Board and Care

  • If you’re going with a boarding facility, make sure your pet meets any requirements. Most boarding facilities and pet hotels require a minimum age, spaying or neutering, current vaccines and flea control.
  • Make a list of any medication, quirks, fears or special routines your caregiver should follow. Medicines should be properly labeled with your pet’s name and instructions.
  • Hand off your cell phone number, the name and number of your hotel, plus two or three emergency contacts.

Home, Sweet Home

  • If your pet is staying home, your sitter should also have your contact info, plus the name, address and phone number of your veterinarian and local 24-hour animal hospital.
  • Make an extra key for the sitter and stockpile food, litter and supplies.
  • If your pet has favorite hiding places, point them out, as well as where you stash the vacuum and other cleaning supplies.
  • Double-check for escape routes (holes in fences, open windows) and put away any fragile items, wires and cords, or shoes or small items your dog may chew when he’s bored.
  • Consider setting your lights or TV on a timer—it’ll ward off criminals and may help keep your pet company.


Once you’re home, “we always recommend returning to the day-to-day routine without a lot of fanfare,” Dales said, “so that the pet understands occasional separations are just another part of family life.”