Taking care of your pet over the holidays

Everyone deserves a holiday once in a while. Once summer and the Christmas break hits, many Australians pack their bags and jet off somewhere for some much-anticipated rest and relaxation.

However, if you are going to be leaving your pets behind, here are some things to consider when organising care for your furry friends while you’re away.

Organising a pet-sitter

Your pet will need plenty of care and attention while you’re away, so make sure you have someone you trust in place as your pet-sitter. Someone close to you such as a family member or friend is a great option, as they will have met your beloved pooch or kitty already and will be well-acquainted with their particular quirks.

If you opt for a professional pet-sitter, it’s important to ask around for recommendations first or look through their testimonials before engaging their services, so you can feel more confident about entrusting your pet in their care.

Make sure the pet-sitter is well-prepped about your pet’s individual habits and arrange for them to meet your pet before you leave for your holiday. That way, your pet can get to know the sitter better and they’ll be more comfortable once you’re gone.

Whether you go for a professional pet-sitter or draft in a member of your family, ensure they have all of your contact details (plus an emergency contact just in case) on hand so they can get in touch if anything happens during your absence.

You’ll need to note down their contact details as well, so you can let them know if there are any changes to your return time or date.

Boarding options

Alternatively, kennels and catteries are another option to consider if you don’t want, or can’t get, a pet-sitter. Make sure you choose a council-registered establishment as they have proved that they can meet the pet care standards required to operate, and drop by yourself to have a look at the facilities.

To decide if is suitable for your pet you should check out the general appearance and cleanliness of the facility and also the security.

Some questions you should also ask:

  • Who will be there and how often they will check on your pet and interact with them?
  • What will be your pet fed whilst they are there?
  • What happens if your pet requires medical treatment?

Whilst all boarding facilities will offer basic services such as accommodation, meals and playtime, there are a number of luxury facilities that offer additional services such as pet day spa’s, training and skype calls whilst you are away.

Once you have decided on where you are going to board your cat or dog, you should make a plan as to when you are going to drop off your pet, as the kennel or cattery may not be local and you may need to factor this into your travel plans.

Don’t leave organising your pet-sitter or boarding to the last minute, especially as many places fill up fast during summer the busier periods of the year.

Arranging pet insurance

Pets are a much-loved and valued member of the family – and just as with any other family member, it’s important to make sure that your pets can be properly cared for should they ever fall sick or suffer an injury. A pet insurance policy can help ensure that you can meet the cost of the medical care your cat or dog needs – whether it’s for an illness or injury.

Pet insurance can help you achieve peace of mind about your pet’s safety and health. If you’re planning to be away, it’s a good idea to take out your pet insurance policy in advance, as it can help ensure that you can meet the cost of the medical care your cat or dog would require if they were to suffer an illness or injury whilst you were away.

There are many different types of pet insurance policies available, with cover ranging from accident-only insurance to accident and illness. You can take out pet insurance from the time your pet is eight weeks old, although certain policies may require a specific age limit.

Not every policy will work for you, so you may want to shop around and compare different options to find the product that best suits you and your pet’s needs.

Animal-proofing your home

The other step you need to take if you are leaving your pets for a period of time is ensuring your home is ‘animal-proof’. Just as new parents need to ‘baby-proof’ their house, so too should pet owners.

Proofing inside your home

Take extra care to ensure that any medicines or potentially dangerous household items are secured safely away, so there’s no chance your pet could get into them or ingest them accidentally. It pays to do your research, as you might be surprised at what could be harmful to your pets.

For example, according to the RSPCA, xylitol – a type of sweetener that is found in many sugar-free lollies and gum products – can be toxic and may even cause life-threatening problems for many pets.

Here are some other common items that are highly toxic if ingested by your pet, so make sure these are stored safely out of reach in your home:

  • Chocolate and cocoa
  • Bread dough
  • Onions, garlic, leeks and chives
  • Grapes, raisins and currants
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Batteries

Proofing outside your home

The exterior and outside areas of your property also need a thorough once-over before you leave for your vacation.

Checking and reinforcing the outer boundaries of your home (including doors, gates, and fencing) will keep your pet safe and also give you the peace of mind you need to really relax and enjoy your holiday.

In addition to this, some pesticides and other chemicals used in lawn and gardening products can be extremely harmful for pets. It’s a good idea to make a note of this when you are doing some work in the garden, and make an effort to switch to more animal-friendly products if you can.

These articles are provided as reference material to allow more informed decision making, but are not intended as being a complete source of information on any topic. All readers should make their own independent analysis on the topic to make sure they have considered the aspects that are important to them.