Should pets go on vacation?

March 24, 2010 at midnight
Updated March 23, 2010 at 10:24 p.m.

BY JOHN BECKQ: I'm planning my family's summer vacation. I'm not sure if we should take our dog with us, or leave him behind. What are the options available for boarding or sitting pets in this area?

A: A lot of people are in the same boat as you - unsure if it is better to leave your dog behind or worth the extra mile to take him with you on your family vacation. If you are planning an outdoors vacation - camping, hiking, site seeing - you might consider taking your dog with you. Make sure the sites and parks you visit allow pets.

The next step is to find a pet-friendly hotel, which is a must. Many hotels allow pets to stay for a small fee or even for free because of the increased demand. If you plan to leave your pet behind in the hotel room while you are out and about, make sure you bring some toys to keep him preoccupied. If needed, bring his kennel or crate to put him in while you are away to avoid any mischievous behavior.

Don't forget food and water bowls, treats, bedding and any medications your pet might take. Update your pet's vaccinations, take records and possibly locate a veterinarian who practices near your destination.

If you leave your pet behind, making arrangements for him early is a must. You can board your pet at a veterinary hospital or boarding facility. Touring the facility to make sure it accommodates your pet's needs is a good idea. You can also decide what size kennel would be best for your pet and talk with the staff about what is provided and what you need to provide for him. You might also ask if they can provide special one-on-one time with your pet or a bath before going home. Another option when leaving your pet behind is a sitter. There are many sitters in our area who will either come to your home to care for your dog or keep the dog at their house. Again, interviewing or meeting the sitter is a good idea. Follow up on personal references to make sure you get the person who is right for your pet.

Whether you choose a kennel or sitter, make sure they have all of your veterinarian's information in case there is a problem or accident while you are away. Also, make sure they know your wishes regarding the amount of money spent on veterinary care and the extent you will go to save your pet's life.

If you have any other questions or concerns regarding boarding or traveling with your pet, feel free to contact me or your current veterinarian.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at



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