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Pet Sitter vs Boarding: Which is Better for Your Pet?

By Colleen Williams
January 24, 2016 • 3 min. read
xylitol dogs

Table of Contents

When you plan a vacation, you can’t always take your pet with you. It’s important to make plans for your cat or dog so they’re well-fed and properly taken care of while you’re away. There are several options for traveling pet parents – hire a professional pet sitter or board them at a doggy daycare or kennel. The choice you select should take into account your pet’s age, type (cat or dog), and behavioral and medical needs.

Pet Sitting

This method of pet watching involves hiring a professional “pet sitter” to keep a close eye on your cat or dog from the safety and comfort of your home. Selecting a trustworthy sitter is essential; choose a company that thoroughly screens employees and is a member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.

Pros of pet sitters

  • Your pet can keep his or her routine. Especially if you own a puppy or kitten, sticking to a bathroom and feeding regimen is essential.
  • Kennels can harbor highly contagious illnesses like kennel cough, intestinal parasites, and distemper. When your pet remains in the safety of their own home, exposure to these diseases is minimal.
  • In the event of an emergency, pet sitters are specially trained to handle any health emergencies that may occur. If you have a pet with special dietary or medical needs, the caretaker can administer medications.
  • Pets are given special attention and playtime with pet sitters; things that kennels charge extra for.
  • Pet sitters can also bring in mail, water plants, and turn lights on/off to deter burglars while you’re away.

Cons of pet sitters

  • Since pet sitters typically charge anywhere from $10 upwards per house visit, that can add up fast; dogs need to be let out multiple times per day, especially puppies.
  • If your dog or cat doesn’t react well to strangers, especially displaying signs of aggression, he or she may not be too fond of a pet sitter.


This is the most common method pet parents select; it’s slightly cheaper than a pet sitter, but the quality of care is often less. Some doggy daycares are often more specialized and high-end than kennels – and also more expensive. Kennels will meet your pet’s basic needs – food, exercise, bathroom – for a lower price, but there are also hazards that go along with choosing this option.

Pros of boarding

  • Since pet sitters charge per visit, the charges can rack up; this is especially important for pet parents with canines. Kennels usually bill per day, with special extras offered for an additional price.

Cons of boarding

  • Contagious diseases, like kennel cough, distemper, giardiasis and coccidiosis are found in kennels. The cramped conditions make it simple for viruses and parasites to travel with ease among dogs and cats. Puppies and kittens especially should avoid being boarded as their immune systems are very susceptible to picking up these illnesses.
  • Since there are so many animals in one place, the staff can’t give each pet special attention. Extra playtime or walk sessions must be purchased in addition to boarding fees.
  • The kennel will perform feedings, bathroom breaks, and walks according to their schedule, not yours. Particularly with puppies, sticking to a schedule is important, so boarding a young animal is not recommended.

The bottom line is this: while pet sitters offer higher quality care, they’re also more expensive; kennels are cheaper but can expose your dog to contagious illnesses and ruin their routines. Choose a pet care service that meets your dog or cat’s needs and your own budget. Pet parents with young animals or those with special medical needs should consider pet sitters in order to keep them on a strict regimen. Adult dogs without these requirements have no problems being boarded and emerge perfectly fine.

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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