Going away on your annual summer holiday? You’ve planned your own holiday but what about your pets? Here’s what to do with pets when you go on holiday.
There are three options when it comes to your pets and holidays:
- Get a pet sitter who pops in daily or stays at your house,
- Take your pets on holiday with you, or
- Put them into a kennel.
Hiring a pet sitter: what to know and average cost
Pet sitters have experience taking care of pets and have a love for animals. They can either come to your house for a few hours a day or they can stay over, doubling as a house sitter.
- This option allows your pets to stay in a known and safe environment.
- The pet sitter can look after your pets as well as the house while you are away.
What does it cost?
If you’d like a pet sitter to check on and feed your pet once a day, companies like thepetsitter.co.za will charge around R89. Some pet sitters will come in twice a day for R149. Services include providing fresh water and food, playing with your pets, administering medication and a daily SMS update on your pet with photos.
However the price increases significantly for full-time care. For a live-in professional pet sitter, daily rates start at R399. Students like to make extra money over the holidays, and will usually pet and house sit for as little as R100 a day. In addition to pet sitting, services include handling the alarm/security system, electricity checks of the fridge, pool etc, switching lights on and off and watering of plants.
When hiring a pet sitter, be sure to:
- Introduce the pet sitter to your pets before the holiday period, to ensure that your pets like the sitter. This is also a good time to show the sitter where the food is kept and what routine the pets follow.
- Get good references for the pet sitter or go through a pet sitting company that vets their people.
- Leave written detailed instructions with emergency contact numbers.
Pet friendly holidays and accommodation
Once you’ve found a pet-friendly holiday destination, the most stressful part of the trip will be transporting your pets, especially if you are driving a long distance.
Tips for travelling with pets
- Exercise your dog before the trip to tire him out, this will make for a less excitable travel companion.
- If your pet is prone to motion sickness, speak to your vet in advance about possible medications you can give them.
- Feed the dog a few hours before the trip – this will help with car sickness.
- Ensure that you have plenty of fresh water for the trip.
- Line the seat or boot with your dog’s blankets or his/her basket and favourite chew toys to make a comfortable and familiar spot for him or her to sleep – sleeping can help with motion sickness.
- Never let your pet roam around the car unrestrained. Owners of nervous pet travellers sometimes opt for a secure crate to contain the pet on the trip.
- Take frequent breaks so that your pets can do their business, stretch their legs, drink water and eat.
- Your pets should always be on a leash when outside of the car.
- Never leave your pets in the car, not even for a few minutes.
Tips for finding a reputable kennel
For most pet owners, kennels are a great way to ensure that your pets are cared for while away. However, if you are doing this for the first time or looking for a new kennel, be sure to keep the following in mind.
- Start searching early. Really, really early. Catteries and kennels fill up very quickly. If you plan to go away in December, book at least 6 months before. Most pet owners take their pets to the same places every year, and often book for the next vacation when they fetch their pets. TIP: To find a reputable kennel or cattery in your area, type in kennel and your location in to Google.
- Save, save, save. Make no mistake, pet boarding is not cheap. When planning your holiday, make sure to budget for pet kennels. Some kennels have a minimum stay, so even if you’re going away for 5 days, you may have to pay for 7. Like human accommodation, not all kennels and catteries are created equal. Cats will usually be cheaper than dogs. And sometimes larger breeds will cost more. Boarding starts at about R100 per dog per day and R80 for a cat. Some may give discounts for more than one pet and special rates are usually given to long term boarders.
- Check out the kennels BEFORE you plan on sending your pets there. While the brochure might look amazing, be sure to visit the kennels before you commit to anything. Check that there is enough space, clean water and that the animals are treated well. Kennels and catteries will require vaccination papers and won’t accept aggressive or unsocialised animals. Some places may also have breed restrictions.
- Check pick up times. Some kennels may have certain operating hours. If arriving late at night, you may only be able to fetch your pet the following day. If this is the case, make special arrangements.
- Bring your pet’s food, blankets and toys. Most kennels will provide food, but if your pet has special dietary requirements, ensure that you buy enough food for their entire stay. Leaving your pets with their basket, blanket or toys will help if they are prone to anxiety.