When your family includes a furry (or feathery) friend, the idea of travel can be a little stressful. As much as we regard them as members of the family, the truth is we can’t always take them everywhere we go. Our furbabies are part of the family, and leaving them home alone comes with a host of problems — both for our families and for them. If this is a source of stress for you or your children, follow these tips to help ease the anxiety of leaving them behind.
Choose your sitter carefully. Not all sitters are created equal and while most people mean well, no one will treat your pet like you do. Pick someone who is responsible and has the free time to give your pet some TLC — but don’t forget asking someone to watch your pet is always something of an imposition, no matter how much they love animals.
By keeping your expectations realistic, you will alleviate some of your stress. Don’t worry if Fido is being walked three times a day and getting regular belly rubs. Take comfort in the fact your pet is being looked after by a responsible guardian, then spoil him with extra ear scratches when you get home. A nice thank you gift for the sitter isn’t a bad idea either.
If leaving your pet with a sitter isn’t an option, consider boarding them. While most pet owners cringe at the thought of this, a well-chosen kennel can be a perfectly safe alternative. Many veterinary offices either offer boarding or can recommend someplace. If you don’t know a reliable boarding kennel, do your research. Read reviews, ask for referrals and don’t forget to call during your trip to check on your pet.
Medical emergencies are never pleasant, but if something happens to one of your pets while you are away, preparation can ease the stress. If your pet has medical conditions, provide a description of the problems and a list of medications so the sitter (or kennel) knows what they are dealing with. Give your sitter phone numbers for your animal’s primary veterinarian and a local emergency pet clinic. This can make an emergency a much less stressful ordeal.
And here comes the big one — separation anxiety. On a recent trip to Las Vegas, my husband reached into the suitcase and it squeaked. Tucked inside of our carefully packed clothing we found a fuzzy little squeaky toy. Either the dog planned on joining us or he wanted us to remember him while we were away. Although we’ll never know his true motives, we realized how much we missed the little guy. This experience speaks to something many pet owners encounter — when we go on vacation it can be difficult for us and them. Family pets are often our kids’ best friends, making our children susceptible to missing them. Make sure you load up your mobile devices with pictures of your pets for your kids to look at when necessary.
Regular check-ins and status updates are an easy way to reassure your kids their pets are safe. If you happen across a pet store during your travels, stop in and let the kids pick out a toy for their friend — ease their stress by planning to surprise the pet once reunited.
For families that have close bonds with their pets, these little steps can help ensure the stress of traveling isn’t compounded by worrying about and missing them.