If you are reading this, I guess you have a pet, need a holiday and don't want to waste your next hard-earned break watching round-the-clock rubbish on television. In days gone many pet owners simply did not go on holidays! "Why", I would ask them, and the answer was always the same: "Because we own a pet."
Fortunately pet owners have more options than they used to. These days you can often take your pet with you. Otherwise you can leave it in a secure boarding kennel or cattery, or even commission a pet minding service to visit and service your pet in its familiar environment. But which option is right for you and your pet?
So now you've taken the first step and put in for some annual leave. Your vacation is coming up... but what are you going to do with the family pet?
Option One: Pet Friendly Holidaying
Taking your pet with you on holidays is an option particularly popular among dog owners whose charges travel well. Gone are the days when traveling "pet friendly" meant rotting linoleum and a leaky roof. Many holiday venue operators now recognize that most pet owners are responsible adults who will look after a nice house in order to be invited back.
When traveling don't forget to take frequent rests, pack water for the travel along with your dog's water bowl, and don't leave your dog to bake in your car! You'll generally also be required to bring your pet's bedding, food and food containers.
Your pet should also be fully vaccinated, wormed and on a current flea treatment program. A first aid kit including tweezers or tick removers as well as antiseptic makes good sense, especially if there are likely to be ticks in the area.
Other pets can make excellent travel companions - cats and horses, for example, are welcomed at many holiday venues these days.
FOLLOW THE RULES: If you will be having your pet with you on holidays there are likely to be conditions. Find out what they are and follow them or you will not be welcomed back!
AVOID THE TELEVISION. Hopefully there isn't a TV there, but if there is, don't turn it on. You can watch TV at home and there are too many exciting things to do with your pet, friends and family, like bush walking, swimming... no, don't reach for the remote control. Make the most of your holiday and enjoy the Great Outdoors!
There are times when you can't take your pet with you, such as overseas holidays, business trips and when you are holidaying in regions that don't permit pets. So what are your options?
Option Two: In Home Pet Minding Services
If your pet is unlikely to fret excessively in your absence it can make sense to leave them in their familiar territory. A Pet Minder can visit your pet in your home or garden, supplying food, entertainment, a walk and maybe even a bath in your absence.
Leaving a pet in the house can even assist with security - who's going to break in when Cujo's guarding the front door?
As an added bonus a pet minder will often undertake additional duties including collecting mail, putting out the garbage and watering the plants. They can often attend to the other members of your family including fish, mice, birds etc.
Keeping up your dog's exercise regime is important. If your chosen pet minder cannot exercise your pet then arrange for a family member or professional dog walker to look after this for you.
When interviewing for a pet minder, it is OK, and expected that you will ask for references.
Not all dogs and cats are suited to staying home while you're away, especially if you'll be gone for an extended period. If your pet is likely to fret terribly, howl through the night, disturb neighbours or go wandering, then a boarding facility might be a better option for your pet's safety and security!
Option Three: Boarding Kennels and Catteries
A boarding kennel or cattery can provide a safe environment in your absence. Your pet will be fed according to the diet that you have prearranged - many boarding services can cater for the fussiest of animals.
Most boarding kennels have excellent exercise options available as well as ready access to a vet in case of emergency.
Know what to look for! Most boarding kennels and catteries are happy to show you through their premises if you make an appointment, but I favour boarding facilities that welcome your inspection without an appointment. Who knows what might get swept under the rug!
Your holiday - Relax and enjoy yourself
Now that your pets are taken care of, go and enjoy your holiday! Hang on a moment... what about the kids?
Have Pet ... Can Travel
by Gerry Neustatl
Gerry Neustatl is the co-founder of Pets Playground, a comprehensive internet resource for Australian pet owners looking for pet friendly holiday venues and other holiday options, service providers and retailers.