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Pet Boarding or Pet Sitting - Which is Best for Your Four-Legged Friend?

Pet Boarding or Pet Sitting - Which is Best for Your Four-Legged Friend?

The team at our Madison animal hospital understands that leaving your cherished pet behind when you're away can be stressful, especially if your animal has medical needs. Below we compare pet sitting and different boarding options for when you need to be away from home.

Choosing The Best Care for Your Animal Companion

No matter why you will be away from home, you will need to find appropriate care for your pet. Although deciding on which kind of care is best for you and your pet can be challenging, doing a little research into the options available near you, and what features each service offers, can help to make your decision easier.

Boarding Your Dog or Cat

Pet boarding facilities are no longer the dingy and grim places they once were. These days your dog can have fun socializing and playing while you're away, and your cat can have a relaxing vacation in a clean, fresh-smelling facility complete with plenty of love and attention.

The options for boarding pets range from spa-like facilities that pamper pets and doggie summer camps to medical boarding for animals that require extra attention. Of course prices for these different levels of care also range from affordable to extravagant.

If you are trying to decide which boarding facility to take your beloved pet to, be sure to check out a few different places in your area to find a facility that suits the needs of your pet and your pocket book.

Facility Features

Price is often a good indicator of the level of service provided at a given boarding facility. Chances are good that if your dog or cat will be treated to luxurious hotel-like spaces with comfy sofas to lounge on and tv to watch, you're going to pay more than you would to board your pet at a standard facility with roomy crates and fenced dog runs. 

If you want your kitty to be treated to some serious pampering while they are away, you can find specialized cat boarding facilities with features such as cat gyms filled with feline-friendly toys,  platforms to jump up onto, and posts to scratch.

Looking for some outdoor adventure for your pooch? Treat your canine companion to a fun camp experience while you're away. Dog camps across the country offer loads of time for your pooch to play outdoors, as well as added facilities for swimming and socializing with other dogs.

That said, it's important to remember that fancy facility features don't necessarily add up to better care for your pet.

Choosing The Level of Service That Meets Your Pet's Needs

The level of service you choose for your pet will also be reflected in the price. For most pets, a well run standard facility is a good option.  If you are considering a standard facility here is what you can expect.

Standard care for dogs at most pet boarding facilities includes:
  • A clean, roomy kennel for your pooch to sleep in
  • Exercise time outdoors before breakfast
  • Breakfast served in the kennel
  • Out of kennel playtime in the middle of the day to allow your buddy to burn some energy
  • Dinner served in the kennel
  • Evening bathroom break
Standard care for cats at most pet boarding facilities includes:
  • A clean private crate with plenty of room to move and space for the litter box
  • Frequent visits by staff to ensure that the litter box is clean and that your cat has a good supply of food and water
  • Clean bedding so your feline friend can relax comfortably and watch the world go by
Other services commonly available at pet boarding facilities:
If you are looking for something a bit more special than a standard boarding facility, many facilities also offer the following services:
  • Specialized veterinary care
  • Training
  • Grooming
  • Shuttle services to and from the facility

Pros & Cons of Pet Boarding

  • Pros: Pet boarding provides your pet with a standardized daily routine that includes meal times and exercise times on a regular schedule. Boarding also gives pets an opportunity to socialize with other animals. If your dog or cat has a medical issue that requires medications or treatments, facilities with onsite vets and a team of veterinary professionals may be right for your pet while you're away.
  • Cons: Being away from home can be hard for some pets. In some cases, dogs and cats can become nervous or anxious in new environments which could lead to altercations with other animals at playtime. Pets in boarding facilities also face an increased risk of contracting contagious illnesses such as kennel cough in dogs or Feline Upper Respiratory Infection (colds) in cats so immunizations are essential when boarding your pet.

Deciding on a Pet Sitter

When interviewing for a pet sitter be sure to request a list of references as well as a list of qualifications.

How much you will pay for a pet sitter will depend upon the level of service you choose for your animal.

Having a pet sitter care for your animal can help to protect your home by keeping your place looking lived-in to any passers-by. Pet sitters will typically collect your mail and papers and switch lights on and off, making your home look more lively. Hiring a live-in pet sitter will allow you to rest assured that someone is caring for your home at night.

Level of Service Provided by Pet Sitters

There are two basic categories of pet sitters; those who visit your house twice a day to feed your pet and allow your dog to get outside for bathroom breaks, and those who stay in your home full-time while you are away.

Other services commonly available from pet sitters:

If your dog or cat requires more care than just feeding and being let out a few times a day, some pet sitters offer additional services such as:
  • Training
  • Grooming
  • Walks
  • Housekeeping

Pros & Cons of Pet Sitters

  • Pros: The primary benefit of hiring a pet sitter is that your pet may find it less stressful to stay at home while you are away. Other benefits of hiring a pet sitter include the increased security of having someone in your home, and pet sitters can be less expensive than some boarding facilities.
  • Cons: Bringing a stranger into your home to care for your beloved pet can be uncomfortable, and certainly isn't for everyone. (Although this uncertainty can be mitigated by hiring a pet sitter that has been referred to you by a friend.) Hiring a part-time pet sitter may be problematic if your pet gets lonely. Boredom can lead to destructive behaviors in many dogs and cats. Reputable pet sitters can book up very quickly and may not be available when you need them, particularly at peak holiday times such as spring break.

Making The Right Decision for You & Your Pet

Choosing the best pet care service for your animal will ultimately come down to personal preference, price and availability. With a little research into the services available in your area, you will be able to find just the right level of care for your dog or cat, at a price you can afford.

Standard Boarding, Medical Boarding & Daycare Options For Pets in Madison

At Best Friends Animal Hospital we understand that it can be stressful to leave your pet - especially if they are ill, or when they are recovering from a procedure or surgery. Our goal is to put help put your mind at ease by providing your pet with whatever level of care they need.  We provide complete medical boarding services for pets with medical conditions that require treatments, medications and/or monitoring that standard boarding facilities may not be equipped to accommodate. We also offer standard boarding and doggie daycare to keep your pet safe, happy and well socialized while you are away from home.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Would you like to learn more about pet boarding at Best Friends Animal Hospital in Madison? Contact us today to learn more or arrange a visit to our boarding facility.

New Patients Welcome

Best Friends Animal Hospital is always accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary team is passionate about the health and comfort of companion animals. Get in touch today to learn about the difference our expertise makes.

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