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6 Reasons Pet Sitters Are Better Than Boarding

By Colleen Williams
March 5, 2015 • 3 min. read
lost dog

It’s Professional Pet Sitters Week! Spring break is coming up, with many more three-day-weekends in store before summer. Pet parents must decide whether Fido sits or stays; traveling with a pet can be difficult and is sometimes not an option. Hiring a pet sitter will leave your pet happier or healthier than boarding at a kennel, and here’s why.

1. It’s not called board-etella for nothing.

Boarding kennels are breeding grounds for Bordetella infection, a nasty upper respiratory infection. Image via Creative Commons license on Flickr.

Kennel cough, typically caused by the virus Bordetella, runs rampant in dog kennels and boarding facilities. Highly contagious, symptoms include fever, lethargy and a honking cough reminiscent of a goose.

The condition is an upper respiratory infection that requires veterinary treatment. Pets with symptoms should be isolated from other animals. If diagnosed with kennel cough, your vet will prescribe antibiotics. At-home cold treatments include a humidifier to ease symptoms; if you don’t have one, take Fido in the bathroom for a steamy shower.

The close quarters of dog boarding allows quick airborne transmission of kennel cough. Pets may also come into contact with surfaces, equipment or toys that infected dogs have touched. By getting a pet sitter, your dog avoids contact with sick animals and can say happy and healthy in your own home.

2. Stay stress-free with a sitter.

For some pets, boarding can be a traumatic experience. Rescue pets are especially prone to separation anxiety; being in a kennel with other dogs can bring back memories of shelter abandonment.

dog suitcase travel
For the times you can’t take Fido with you, trust his care to a professional pet sitter. Image via Canstock Photo.

Even non-rescue pets get stressed by boarding – if you were trapped in a stall with dozens of barking dogs, you’d freak out too! And although kennels and boarding facilities promise quality play time, no one provides as much one-on-one attention as your pup would like. Pet sitters allow care to be provided in the home, with minimal exposure to stress.

3. No one likes change.

Boarding kennels do everything your dog needs – walks, bathroom breaks, playtime, meals. The problem is, they do it on their schedule. Some pets are especially schedule-happy and crave the consistency of a daily routine. Puppies, pets with anxiety, and senior dogs can all benefit from the inevitability of routine.

If your pet is a routine hound, a pet sitter ensures your schedule remains – even while you’re on vacation. Image via Creative Commons license on Flickr.

When you hire a pet sitter, make sure you write down your dog’s daily feeding, potty and play schedule! In addition to providing one-on-one time to your pet, a pet sitter will often take notes on your dog’s behavior or send you updates. The amount of communication you have with a pet sitter is up to you, which helicopter pet parents may find especially awesome.

4. Pet sitters do double duty.

Going on an extended trip? No need to get a house sitter too – most pet sitters will also grab mail, water plants, and turn on lights or music to deter burglars. Sometimes these services are an additional cost; check with your choice of company.

In the battle of pet sitters vs boarding kennels, this is one area without contest. Although pet sitters do charge mmore than the average dog kennel, the difference results in personalized care and peace of mind.

5. Fido’s in good hands.

Professional pet sitters are certified by the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International. The certification process requires passing a test as well as ongoing pet education. Pet sitters have pet first aid training and know what is and isn’t a medical emergency.

Dogs appreciate the friendliness and one-on-one time a pet sitter offers, and are less likely to give you the cold shoulder later. Image via Creative Commons license on Flickr.

This is especially important for pet parents whose dogs have medical conditions and senior dogs. In the event of an emergency, you can count on a professional pet sitter to get your pet help and notify you immediately. Boarding kennels are less likely to even notice a sick pet, as there are dozens of animals in their care, some of whom are sick already.

6. Ease of mind for pet parents.

When you’re on vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is your pet. Getting a professional pet sitter relieves family and friends of responsibility. Although your coworker said she’d remember to let Fido out at 4:30pm today, did she?

Pet sitters are reliable and punctual – their jobs depend on it. While boarding kennels get the job done, they do it on their terms and time. Fido will appreciate a pet sitter’s friendliness and attentiveness, and be a little less likely to give you the cold shoulder when you return.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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