It is never easy to leave your pet behind when you have to go away. I have left my cats successfully in responsibly run kennels when I was only away a few days but it is hard to find one that you can feel comfortable with. I look for facilities that have someone living at or next to the kennel - in case of emergencies. I always go by and check out every aspect of the place - runs, cages, staff, that sort of thing. Even in the best of places you still run the risk of the pet getting sick - catching something from the other animals. I stopped using kennels when my two cats came home with a upper respiratory infection after one stay.
Now I hire a pet sitter to check on them while I am away. I felt so strongly about this way of caring for pets that I started my own pet sitting company to do this for others. Check with your vet, groomer, pet store for fliers or listings of pet sitters in your area. Some will stay overnight if that makes you feel most comfortable but even having someone come twice a day will be fine for your pet. Dogs need more sitter visits unless they have a fenced yard or invisible fence. Cats can make do with once a day. Ask for references from previous customers - you can tell a lot from these testimonials. Here are some things you can do to make the pet sitting process go smoothly.
Introduce the sitter to your pets before you leave. I always go to the pet's house and meet everyone, get the layout of the place and where things are kept before I sit for them. This way they know who I am when I come back again to sit for them.
Make certain the sitter you hire will follow your direction for feedings, water, exercise and attention. If you are preparing their food yourself, make up some ahead and put in freezer to thaw when needed. People can be very particular in when, how and what they feed their animals and you need to find someone who will work with you.
Explain about any medications that need to be given to your pets before you leave. If possible let the sitter give it to them if you think it might be a problem. Sometimes pets will allow the owner to give meds but when a new person tries to, it is nearly impossible. I know!
Leave money and necessary instruction for emergencies. Make sure the sitter knows who your vet is, and if needed where the travel case is located. Provide phone numbers where you, a friend or neighbor can be reached during your trip.
Add anti-stress vitamins to your pet's diet. Starting about a week before, add a B complex or nutritional yeast to their food, and vitamin C. Put a few drops of Bach Flower Rescue Remedy in their water daily. Ask the sitter to continue this supplementation and keep doing it for about a week after you return home.
Talk to your pets long before you bring out the suitcases. Let them know when, where and why you're going and with whom and for how long. They can sense something is up. Put their minds at ease.
Say goodbye to your pet calmly and with an untroubled mind. They pick up on your anxiety and you end up leaving them in an unsettle mood. Visualize a happy reunion scene with them.
While you are away, think about your pet everyday. Send a mental telegram in the form or words or a picture. He will receive it.
Whenever possible phone home to speak with the sitter. I encourage my customers to do so and tell them when is the best time to call. If the sitter is staying at your home, ask to have the phone put next to your pet and talk to him as if he were a person. They like to hear your voice. You can call and talk to them on the answering machine if the sitter is not staying with your pet.
The best you can do for your animal while traveling is keep in mind he understands your thoughts, words and behaviors. They know way more than we think so expect more from them. They will surprise you!