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Summer Lodging (Had Me a Blast)

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Top 10 Tips for Planning Pet Care for Your Summer Holiday (and Beyond)

QUESTION: What is the biggest (or funniest) mistake pet parents make when arranging pet care plans for the summer holidays?

ANSWER: Calling me from the plane after take-off to let me know they need my services.

The Professional Animal Certification Council (PACCC) recently surveyed pet care professionals for their top tips for pet parents who need to arrange for pet care during their summer holiday and beyond. The responses were smart, professional, and insightful. And some, as above, would be rather funny if they weren’t painfully true. Of the more than 80 survey responses received, one tip rose above the rest. Indeed, 89% of the responses had some variation on this bit of advice:

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your pet care. And we’re not just talking calling-from-the-plane last minute. Pet care, whether at a boarding facility or with a pet sitter, should be arranged at least three to four weeks in advance. If you know your travel plans earlier than that, then arrange your pet care as soon as you know.

Along with the tidal wave of “book early!” pleas, were many more nuggets of spot-on advice. With our #1 clearly established, here are 9 more tips for making sure that while you’re on vacation your pet is well cared for:

  1. Educate yourself about your pet care provider. Check reviews. Ask about and verify all certifications. Make sure your pet care provider is fully qualified to care for your pet not only when things are going smoothly, but also in emergencies.
  2. Get yourself and your pet familiar with new surroundings. If you are using away-care, ask for a tour of the lodging and, if possible, bring your pet at that time. Even better, do a one-night trial stay before leaving your pet for the duration of your holiday so it won’t be an entirely new environment.
  3. Make sure your pet is up to date on all shots. Recommended dates ranged from one month to one week in advance, but the upshot on shots is make sure it gets done.
  4. Update and confirm all of your emergency contacts and veterinarian information. An additional tip in this regard was to have your credit card on file with your veterinarian should a serious emergency arise.
  5. Provide the usual medicine and food. Staying consistent saves one big stressor for your pet and helps prevent upset tummies. Make sure you provide more than enough to cover your stay and any unexpected short delays.
  6. Bring along something from home that your pet likes. If you are using away-care, familiar items can help your pet relax. Maybe it’s an item that has your natural scent on it or a favorite toy. But don’t overdo it. We’re all susceptible to this compulsion when it comes to our pets. One pet care pro even dramatically confessed to overdoing it when in the role of a pet parent leaving for a vacation by providing “beds, toys, etc. … I brought the kitchen sink!”
  7. Get a good idea of pet care cost and make it part of your vacation budget. Keep in mind that “you get what you pay for” so if the well-being of your pet is a priority, then expect to pay for that. Including in your budget also helps prevent “over budget” holiday surprises.
  8. Stay calm and try to not exhibit anxiety when it’s time for you to depart. Your stress is detectable and can lead to additional stress for your pet. Focus on your happy return and reunion.
  9. Be upfront and honest about medical conditions and level of care needed. Professional, trained, certified pet care providers are prepared to care for your pet. They’ve seen and handled it all. Let them be the best and most prepared provider they can be by providing all of the information they truly need to know about your pet.

And if there was any doubt whether pet owners today really do consider themselves pet parents to their “furkid”, this survey answer may say it all:

QUESTION: What is the biggest (or funniest) mistake pet parents make when arranging pet care plans for the summer holidays?

ANSWER: Putting down their human child’s name instead of their pet’s name on the pet information form.

The Professional Animal Care Certification Council was founded by industry leaders to bring independent certification to the pet care services industry, an important step for a rapidly growing, easy to enter industry frequently damaged by news reports of serious pet accidents and deaths. For more information on PACCC, roster of currently certified professionals, and next exam dates, visit paccert.org.