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In an ideal world, you could take your dog with you everywhere you go! Unfortunately, that isn’t always an option in the real world. Whether you’re heading out of town to spend the holidays with family or friends, traveling for work, or going on vacation, finding someone to take care of your canine companion should be at the top of your planning checklist.

There are two main options when it comes to ensuring your dog is well-fed and properly cared for in your absence—dropping them off at a boarding facility or hiring a pet sitter. Both options have pros and cons, so determining which is most suitable for your four-legged best friend requires careful consideration. As veterinarians, we’re here to help you make the right decisions for your dog — even when it comes to making sure they’re safe while you’re away. Keep reading to learn more!

Boarding Your Dog

Dog boarding is usually more cost-effective than hiring a pet sitter, and for many pet parents, it’s more convenient. When you drop your dog off at a boarding facility, staff members will meet their needs while you’re away. While they were once common, steel cages and concrete runs are no longer the norm. Instead, today’s pet boarding hotels are more like luxury dog hotels, complete with comfortable beds, socialization time with other dogs and people, and plenty of other amenities. Some animal hospitals offer veterinarian-supervised boarding, too. This may be a good option if your dog has special medical needs.

Despite the positives, there are a few drawbacks to boarding your dog.

The cons of dog boarding include:

  • Your dog will need to be vaccinated against certain infectious diseases and other preventive care items such as deworming—not necessarily a con, but it’s an extra step for you if you haven’t taken care of these things already.
  • In a busy facility, your dog might not receive one-on-one attention from staff. Additional fees are often required for extra playtimes or walks.
  • Boarding facilities usually feed and walk their guests on their schedule — not the dog’s schedule. This can be problematic, especially for young puppies. Be sure to inquire about the frequency of potty trips.

Dogs of various breeds, sizes, and collars standing in a line on a log.

Hiring a Dog Sitter

When you hire a pet sitter, your dog gets to relax in the comfort and familiarity of their own home while a sitter takes care of them. There are a couple of different options. You can have a sitter come to your house at specified times to check on your dog, feed them, and take them out for walks. Alternatively, you can hire someone to live in your home with your pet while you’re away.

Hiring a pet sitter typically costs more than boarding your dog — especially if you hire someone to stay at your house while you’re gone. The perks are well worth the extra cost for many families, though. Hiring a pet sitter means your dog won’t face the stress of being with strange people in an unfamiliar place. Your canine companion may still experience some anxiety while you’re away, but it’s unlikely to be severe enough to cause problems like stress-induced colitis. If your dog develops a health problem, a pet sitter may notice it sooner than a boarding facility team member.

Your pet sitter can also tend to tasks like bringing in the mail and watering your plants, usually for little to no extra cost. A live-in sitter keeps your home from looking like an empty, easy target to burglars.

There are a few drawbacks to hiring a dog sitter, including:

  • Hiring a pet sitter can be expensive, especially if you have someone stay at your house while you’re gone or visit several times each day to let your dog out.
  • Dogs who aren’t fond of strangers may not take kindly to having someone new in their home while you’re away.
  • Finding someone you can trust to be in your home and care for your pet while you’re away is tricky.

The Bottom Line: Is Dog Boarding Or Pet Sitting the Better Option?

Whether you take your dog to a reputable boarding facility or hire a pet sitter, your canine companion will receive quality care in your absence. Sitters offer more one-on-one care and can keep your dog on their routine while you’re gone. Boarding facilities are cost-effective, convenient, and may be a better solution for dogs who aren’t fond of having strangers in their homes

When choosing the right option for your canine companion, consider your budget and your dog’s needs. If your dog has special medical needs, suffers from anxiety, or needs to stick to a strict routine, hiring a live-in sitter might be your best bet. But if your dog is healthy and tends to be pretty easygoing, boarding them could be an excellent way to save a few bucks while still making sure they’re well cared for while you’re away.

Whichever option you choose, do your homework. Reputable boarding facilities have no problem letting pet parents tour their properties and see their accommodations first-hand. Check reviews, too, to ensure the facility will be a good home away from home for your canine companion.

If you’re thinking about hiring a pet sitter, make sure they’re registered with the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. Check references, too. Hiring a pet sitter is a big deal, and you shouldn’t take the process lightly. In addition to caring for your pet, they will be entering your home when you aren’t there. Make sure it’s someone you can trust.

Closing Thoughts

When making travel plans, finding someone to care for your dog while you’re away should always be a top priority. Boarding facilities and pet sitters both care for pets while their owners are away and each has its pros and cons. As a pet parent, you know your dog’s personality and needs better than anyone else. When determining which option is most suitable for your furry friend, keep those things in mind.

As your dog’s veterinarian, we’re also here to help. Schedule a wellness exam before your next trip, and we’ll make sure your four-legged friend is in good health! We’d also be more than happy to discuss whether a boarding facility or pet sitter would be most suitable for your pet. Contact us today!