Can’t take Fluffy and Fido with you on vacation? Don’t feel guilty. Find the best sitter option so they’ll barely miss you while you’re gone.

By Karen Asp

As pet owners know, it's not always possible to bring a furry companion along when traveling for work or going on vacation. That's no reason to feel #momguilt (or #dadguilt), though—today's different pet-sitting options cater to all personality types, and if you need to make arrangements for your dog or cat, you can use this guide to find the best match for their comfort level and care requirements.

Pet-Sitting Services

Pets who are solo types and don’t like change are ideal for pet-sitting services. The beauty of a pet sitter is that the sitter comes to your house for a specified number of visits per day, and your pet’s daily routine stays consistent. “Pets are less stressed at home, and their exposure to disease is minimized because they’re not encountering other pets,” says Beth Stultz, vice president of marketing and operations for Pet Sitters International.

A meet and greet with the sitter at your home before you leave is always a good idea. And get granular with the questions: Are you trained in pet first aid? How much time will you spend on each visit? Do you send texts or pictures after visits? What is your contingency plan in case of bad weather?

In-Home Pet Boarding

Social butterflies do best in this environment. Boarders take pets into their own homes, so they often have a crowd. This can work for animals who enjoy having playmates and someone around all day. However, your pet may be on a different routine and more likely to be stressed, says Erin Askeland, training and behavioral expert at Camp Bow Wow in Westminster, CO.

Visit the boarder’s home beforehand with your pet and make sure she’s adhering to your state laws and local zoning ordinances regulating pet boarding. With the rise of apps offering on-demand pet care, you want to be doubly sure the boarder’s home is pet-safe. Ask if the boarder can follow your pet’s routine as closely as possible and if there’s alone time for each animal.

Kennels

Kennels are good for pets who adapt to change. While a kennel is a social atmosphere, too, dogs (and cats) in boarding kennels should be able to handle change to their routine and periods of being alone. Of course, the smells and sounds of a kennel can be stressful for some animals.

Tour the kennel beforehand with your pet, and ask if you can board your pet for a half day to see how it responds. A few things to ask: Does the pet get individual attention? What are the opportunities to interact with other animals? What’s the feeding schedule, and what will the kennel do if your pet won’t eat? For all types of sitters, make sure they’re licensed and insured.

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