Going on vacation is a time that we all look forward to - it gives us a much needed break from the day to day activities we encounter and time to relax. There are times when we are able to travel with our pets and bring them along for some R&R as well. However if you are unable to bring your pet with you, deciding how to care for your pet when you are out of town can cause anxiety for both us and our pets. If your pet is like mine, they don't necessarily enjoy going to a boarding kennel - the hustle and bustle, constant noise, cold kennels and lack of constant interaction can lead to stress manifesting as anorexia, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, excess shedding and even urinary/fecal accidents. Some dogs and cats love being around other pets and meeting new friends - however for many, the atmosphere at a boarding facility is not something they relish.
Some boarding facilities do a great job of keeping our pets as comfortable as possible during their stay - more places now offer comfort suites complete with pet friendly bedding, music/tv and even a webcam so that you can see how your pet is during their stay. But even for the most anxious pets this may not be an ideal setting.
How can we help our pets when we are away from home? For some, having a pet-sitter come to their home where they are comfortable is a good solution. For those who remain anxious despite being at home, I recommend discussing with your veterinarian some options for these pets. Personally, I stay away from long lasting medications (the SSRI class of meds or benzodiazepines) and prefer all natural solutions. Products such as Adaptil or Zylkene are great options to help reduce anxiety by using naturally produced canine pheromones. In addition, taking time to allow your pet to adjust to the pet-sitter and extra time alone in the weeks leading up to your vacation will help reduce the sudden transition and hopefully decrease additional anxiety. Playing classical music for your pet while you are at work or while out of the house may help your pet adjust to the quiet they will experience in their home without you there for a week or more.
Vacations are fun for us but we need to remember that they can be a trigger for many of our pets - start noticing how your pet is behaving as you pack your suitcases and try to think ahead to make their time away from you as enjoyable as your time will be away from work! As always, email me for details (firstname.lastname@example.org) and subscribe to my website to continue to learn how yo ease your pet's anxiety and make life fun for them everyday!