Holiday care for pets
Pet care is an important part of holiday planning for people who have animals in their life. There are three main options, each with pros and cons.
To watch the Ireland AM video segment featuring Pete discussing this topic, click on the link at the foot of this page.
1) Taking your pet with you
It’s sometimes possible to take your pet with you on holidays, but you do need to check first that your holiday accommodation is “pet friendly” : websites like http://petfriendlyireland.com/ and http://www.dogfriendlybritain.co.uk/ are helpful.
If planning to visit the UK, you will need a pet passport for your dog or cat, with rabies vaccinations given at least 3 weeks before your departure date.
2) Boarding kennels
Boarding kennels are the traditional form of pet care over holiday periods: here are a few tips.:
- Plan as far as possible in advance: the best kennels are booked out for the summer season and if you leave it too late, you won’t have the same level of choice of places to use
- Double check that your pets’ vaccines are up to date, especially for Kennel Cough. If vaccines have gone out of date, you could be refused entry into boarding kennels at the last minute.
- Leave your pet in to your chosen boarding kennel for a trial weekend before the holiday period. If this goes well, you’ll have more confidence that all will be well for the longer holiday period.
Many countries – such as the UK – have strict government-run licensing systems for boarding kennels and catteries, to ensure that high standards are maintained. In Ireland, there’s no such system: anybody can set up a boarding facility, running it in whatever way they see fit. Boarding kennels can be run in sheds, garages and private back yards. There are no rules, and it’s a free market. As a result, it’s up to pet owners to screen kennels on their own, and this can be difficult for many people who may not be aware of the subtleties of looking after animals. At busy times of year in particular, people can be so desperate to find somebody to look after their pet that they’ll accept any level of care that’s available.
For pet owners who are looking for some sort of benchmark of quality, the Irish Boarding Kennel and Cattery Association is a good option: all members must agree to fulfil the IBKCA Code of Ethics. If any kennel fails to come up to the expected standard, the IBKCA will investigate the situation on behalf of the pet owner, and take whatever action is appropriate. Visit www.ibkca.ie for a list of kennels and catteries around Ireland
3) Pet and house sitters
Many people ask a friend or relative to care for a pet, and this can work well.
For those who don’t know anyone who can help, there are two new possibilities for this type of holiday pet care, with the best choice depending on the specifics of the situation.
a) www.housemydog.com This website connects up pet owners with dog-loving members of the public who are happy to mind pets in their own home. This is a trend that started in the USA over the past decade, and has become almost the standard type of pet care now over there. Europe is catching up now..
There are two types of customers who use the website. First, there are people who want to earn some cash by minding pets. A wide range of people sign up as pet minders – from professional petsitters to veterinary students and nurses to members of the public who are experienced dog owners. They all have two things in common: they enjoy the company of dogs and they are able to fit an extra dog into their home and lifestyle. The Housemydog scrutineers are very selective and only approve 3 out of every 10 applications: applicants have to go through a rigorous screening process.
The second “HouseMyDog” customer is the dog owner who is looking for an alternative to boarding kennels for their pet. For these people the process is simple: they type in the area where they live, and the dates when they want to have their pet minded. A list of potential minders then pops up: they click on the minder of their choice, and the booking is made.
There are reassuring security aspects built in to the system: for example, all pet minders are covered by complimentary emergency veterinary insurance in case their pet has an accident or falls ill. And an online review system means that pet minders soon build up track records of reliability. Most people make sure they meet a new minder first (perhaps going for a short dog walk together), and ideally they arrange a ‘trial stay’ for a couple of hours or overnight, so that they can thoroughly check the minder and their home out before leaving them there for a longer period.
There are other pet sitter outlets available online, such as https://petsittersireland.com/
b) Trustedhousesitters.com For pet owners who have more than one dog, rather than leaving them to be cared in someone else’s house, it can make more sense to have a pet sitter come to live in your own home while you are away. You can set this up informally, with a friend, or you can employ a professional pet and house sitter. The Trustedhousesitters.com website offers an innovative option: having your pets minded “for free”. You offer potential pet sitters the opportunity to live in your house, and perhaps even use your car, while you are away, in return for looking after your pets. If you live in an area that people from other countries wish to visit, this allows them to have free accommodation in return for the daily task of looking after your pets.
This website also works the other way; if you are a pet lover who is looking for cheap accommodation when you go on holiday, then you can register at the website and search through interesting properties around the world that have pets that need minded, and you can stay there for free in return for some dog walking and cat minding duties.