One of the hardest things a pet parent has to do is leave his or her pet behind. Sure pet friendly travel is the best, but it’s not always possible. Unfortunately for many it is a necessary evil when traveling for business or pleasure especially when traveling abroad. It can be stressful for both pets and people and difficult to find a reliable and trusted person or business who can look after your furry family member.

The past few weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time visiting various places in Scotland and Dublin with my boyfriend and his family. It’s been amazing to see other parts of the world, but I sure miss Ralph and Luna! While I have been away, I knew they were safe and in good hands with my parents and a doggy day care facility that we have well vetted.

Though I thought about my two pups and missed them very much, I wasn’t worried about how they were doing too much because I prepared for their time away from home weeks in advance. Below I share the steps I took to ensure that the time was a success for the dogs and everyone involved.

11 Tips for Preparing to Leave Your Pet Behind During a Vacation

Tips for Preparing to Leave Your Pet in Boarding

A Month in Advance

Run a trial stay and inspect the facility or pet sitter’s home.
Pick a weekend about a month before your big trip and do a one or two night stay at the dog boarding location or pet sitter’s home. Stay nearby in case of emergency and pay close attention to how your dog or cat acts following the visit. This will help you feel comfortable with the business or pet sitter you have chosen and confident that your pet will be okay while you are gone.

Check your pet’s medical records.
If your pet will be due for any vaccine, check up, or other treatment while you are out of town, you may want to get it done before you leave. Some boarding facilities may require extra vaccines such as Bordetella, so be sure to check with them in advance. Also, keep in mind some vaccines need a few days before they are considered fully functional, so schedule any appointments wisely.

11 Tips for Preparing to Leave Your Pet Behind During a Vacation

A Week in Advance

Verify and update your pet’s identification and microchip.
You should always update this information after any changes, but stays like this are a good reason to verify that you did it. Ensure there is a way to contact you in case your pet becomes lost while you are on vacation. If you’re dog or cat is inexperienced in being away from you, they may be frightened or skittish, so it’s even more important!

Ask a trusted family member or friend to be an emergency contact.
It can be a burden to ask a friend or family member to watch your pet during your entire vacation, but you’ll want to make sure you have someone you trust locally who can make decisions on your behalf in case of emergency. This is especially true if you’ll be further than an hour or two away.

The Day Before

Pack your dog a suitcase with items that will help them feel at home.
Include a comfortable bed, a toy they love, and even an article of clothing that smells like you or home. Be sure to explain each items importance to your pet sitter or boarding facility and stress if any of the items are sentimental or irreplaceable.

Portion out your dog’s meals and medications.
This task is a bit tedious and may seem wasteful, but it makes the life of your pet sitter significantly easier. Portioned out meals also help guarantee that your dog or cat is fed correctly while you are gone, so you don’t return to a pet a little heavier or skinnier than when you left them. I use Ziploc bags for portioned meals. I make sure our sitters know what the portion sizes are in case there are any mix ups or issues. If there are any differences, I label the bags with a permanent marker.

11 Tips for Preparing to Leave Your Pet Behind During a Vacation

Write up any necessary instructions about medication or safety.
If your pet has any special needs, make sure they are clearly written down. You should go over them verbally, but always have a written copy because people don’t always remember anything. Make it as simple as possible and include easy to follow steps if you can.

Also, include your safety expectations. We all make special efforts to keep our pets safe, so your pet sitter or dog boarding facility should too, especially if you are paying them! We always bring along our Sleepypod Clickit Sport Harness (read a review here) and specify how and when to use it. If my pets are to travel in the car for any reason, I expect that they are safe while doing it. If need be, I’ll do a demonstration of how to put on the Clickit Sport harness and how to strap the pets into the car safely.

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Print out two copies of your pet’s records. One for you and one for them.
It’s always good practice for your dog boarding or pet sitter to have a copy of your pet’s records in case they need to visit the vet for any reason. In most cases, they require it! Just make sure it’s the most recent version.

You may also want to have a copy with you, so you can easily refer to it if you need to make any medical decision from a far. A digital copy should work, but keep in mind that you may have limited mobile data or WiFi access especially if you are traveling outside of the country.

Verify your sitter or doggy day care facility has updated contact information.
It never hurts to write down your current phone number and email address, so your pet sitter has it easily accessible. If your pets are at a boarding facility make sure they have the most up to date information and a local emergency contact in case you cannot be reached. If you are traveling outside of your native country, you may not have access to your phone, so be sure to specify that!

11 Tips for Preparing to Leave Your Pet Behind During a Vacation

The Day Of

Be specific about your expectations for emergency medical care.
Most boarding facilities have waivers that you have to sign about what they are expected to do in the event of a medical emergency and how much they may be allotted to spend. Think about it carefully and honestly. If your pets are staying with a pet sitter instead, make sure they are aware. You probably want to even write it down and have both parties sign it.

Give your pup an extra hug and relax.
You have picked a competent, trusted pet sitter or boarding business and they are prepared to keep your pets safe and happy. They are in good hands, so enjoy your vacation! And yes, it’s okay if you check in from time to time, but don’t go crazy.

How do you cope with going on vacation without your dog?

Disclaimer: I am being compensated to help spread the word about the Sleepypod Clickit Sport. I received no other compensation or additional benefits for mentioning the brands or products in this post. The opinions and ideas in this post are my own and are uninfluenced by any other person or business.

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11 Tips for Preparing to Leave Your Pet Behind During a Vacation

Jessica Shipman
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