I briefly mention on my About Me page that I have six cats and a dog. Having that many animals requires a considerable amount of planning to go out of town, even just for one night! Here is some general planning information for those who have animals. Always make your pets a priority! 🙂

Boarding Animals:

  • Check with the policies of the facility first.  
  • Set aside money well in advance to pay for the boarding costs!  To board just my one cat last year for Spain (he has diabetes so requires shots), the cost was around $250!
  • Remember to have your pets updated on all required vaccines, as most places won’t board pets without them (hence making sure you read the policies of the facility beforehand).
  • Depending on the time of year, make sure you have considered the emergency options for the facility.  I live in Florida, and hurricane season can cause massive flooding. We have often seen that some shelters and boarding facilities get flooded and pets die.  Every since that lesson, I make sure that the places my pets stay any length of time are high and dry and that they have a plan in place to take care of the animals if a hurricane arrived while I was out of town.  
  • Leave detailed instructions for your pet!  The facility will often have policies about food.  My dog’s boarding facility, for instance, is required to have each meal in a separate, labeled plastic bag so that they know they are giving her the right food and the right amount.  
  • Don’t forget to list contingency options like the phone numbers of your veterinarian.  What should they do, for instance, if your pet becomes sick or doesn’t want to eat their food?  
  • Do you need to send flea or heartworm medicine to administer while you’re gone?
  • Don’t forget to send entertainment and comfort like toys or a blanket that smells like home, as well as treats if needed, along with instruction
  • Finally, leave yourself plenty of time to get the animal to your boarding facility before you need to leave! The only thing worse than feeling rushed to the airport is feeling rushed to get your animals to boarding before you rush to the airport! Reduce your stress and the stress of your pets! 🙂

If you’re not boarding your pets:

  • Make sure you have someone reliable looking after your pets.  
  • I do not recommend having a new pet sitter when you’re gone for a long time!  Try them out for a day trip first or for shorter trips.
  • It’s okay to trust a neighbor’s child for basic pet care, but absolutely make sure they are supervised by a parent who is checking on the work they’ve done!  I once made a mistake of assuming a child was supervised, and they invited their little friends over and trashed the house. No adult ever followed up. Luckily, none of my cats at the time escaped, but they probably didn’t eat for a day or two!
  • Leave a very detailed list of pet care instructions.  I suggest including:
    • A list of emergency vet services (including instructions on carriers, etc. so they can transport your animal)
    • A phone number of one or more local people who trust to handle any situation that might arise
    • Plenty of detailed instructions about amounts of food, medication, frequency of feeding, and any other relevant information, including the location of food and treats, etc.
    • Detailed information regarding the safety of your home, like alarm systems and expectations of what kind of activity should be seen around your home during the day and night.
  • I recently have also recorded videos of my routine, especially for my cat with diabetes, so the videos can be consulted at any time.
  • No one likes to think about their pets dying when they leave home, but consider and leave instructions for what should be done if your sitter has to make a life or death decision at the vets and what they should do if they discover your pet has died.  Some people feel very strongly about ashes or burial, so be clear about your wishes.

I hope this list helps you plan for next time you leave home without your pets!  If you have anything else you think should be added, please leave a comment below! 🙂