A young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kittenA young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kittenA young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kitten
Barks & Mewsings

The Trupanion blog

Traveling for the Holidays? How to Find Pet Boarding Options Near You

By: Brianna Gunter

A fluffy gray cat sits on a packed suitcase

Traveling this season and wondering what to do with your pet? Pet-friendly hotels and modes of transportation have become more commonplace over the years, but there are many situations where dogs and cats must stay behind.

This is especially true during the December holidays, when busy gatherings may not accommodate pets. Even if you’d like to bring Fido, airlines have limited pet reservation space, among other restrictions. The same goes for Amtrak trains that permit dogs and cats and other modes of public transportation.

Leaving your pet home alone with a pile of food is out of the question, and it can be exceptionally challenging to find a decent pet sitter during the busy holiday weeks. For many pet owners, the best option is therefore pet boarding.

What is pet boarding vs. pet sitting?

If you’re still weighing pet sitting vs. pet boarding during the holidays, it’s important to understand the difference between the two. Pet sitting generally refers to someone coming into your home while you’re gone and watching your pet, although it may also refer to your pet staying at someone else’s house. Pet boarding is where you take your dog or cat into an actual facility where they will stay alongside other pets while you are away.

The decision may depend on your pet. If Patches the dog is very territorial of her home, for example, having a pet sitter come in while you’re gone could be a recipe for disaster. Likewise, if Charlie the cat tends to claw up furniture when you’re not around, you may not want him staying in someone else’s house or even at yours while you’re away.

While pet boarding can sound like the colder option, many of today’s pet hotels provide enrichment activities, plenty of playtime, and cozy sleeping areas. Some even offer grooming services. And unlike the vast majority of pet sitting scenarios, they also offer ‘round the clock supervision and security for your pet.

How to find pet boarding options near you during the holidays

A quick Google search for “pet hotels near me” will help turn up any close by boarding places. But instead of just picking the closest one or the first that pops up, it’s important to evaluate each option carefully.

Consider your pet’s unique needs

Holiday season pet boarding already means a deviation from the norm for both you and your pet. However, you should still take their unique needs and preferences for caretaking into account. Some pets thrive more in a social environment — for example, a dog hotel with a play area and socialization options with other dogs — while others feel more secure in their own private space.

Before you start your pet boarding care search (and especially before making any plans), jot down a quick list of the things your pet needs to be comfortable while you’re gone.

Read reviews and ask for referrals

Your fellow pet parents can be great resources for finding pet boarding nearby. Talk with friends and family members about dog hotels and cat retreats they may have used previously.

It’s also a good idea to ask your pet’s veterinarian for boarding recommendations, especially if your pet has a health condition. Many veterinary practices partner with local pet hotels and kennels to help train the staff, and some even offer their own long-term boarding kennels onsite.

Carefully research kennels, pet hotels, and pet retreats

While you’re at it, now’s a great time to quickly educate yourself on the wide array of options that is modern pet boarding. Never judge on name alone — “pet retreat” may not automatically mean any difference from “pet kennel.” In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll be looking at both traditional kennels to more spacious and interactive pet boarding facilities. Keep in mind that many places marketed as dog resorts or other care retreats actually specialize in doggy daycare, so be sure to ask about their long-term boarding options if it isn’t clear.

Along with that, be sure to take a good look at the finer details.

Sleeping accommodations

Traditional kennels separate pets via fenced-off, cage-like settings or crates, whereas more upscale dog hotels often provide private rooms. Likewise, some places provide beds and blankets while others require you to bring your own with your pet. If you go the kennel option and have a dog who likes to climb, make sure any fenced divisions reach the ceiling (not all do).

Common areas and play spaces

Whether you’re traveling just for a few days or will be gone for weeks, your pet needs to be able to stretch their legs during their stay away from home. If the information isn’t readily available, don’t be afraid to ask how many hours of playtime pets get every day and what the space is like.

Safety measures

Be sure to ask what kind of safety measures the pet boarding facility has in place. It’s also important to read all documents carefully before signing anything, especially when it comes to their liability policies. As an extra safety measure, you may be asked for your pet’s most recent vaccination history and proof of pet health insurance if applicable.

Move quickly for the best pet boarding options

The holidays are upon us, but there’s no need to panic if you haven’t made caretaker plans for your pet just yet. While it’s important to move quickly to reserve a spot at a place you trust, there are multiple steps worth taking in order to find the best cat boarding or dog boarding options nearby. Fortunately, you might have more options at your fingertips than you thought!

When you do find a place you like with good reviews, don’t wait to reserve it. This is the December holiday season, after all, and pet hotels become booked up quickly. In the meantime, check out these pet safety tips for the holidays to keep your fur buddy happy and healthy throughout the coming weeks.

A dog and cat snuggle

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Welcome to the Trupanion blog. A place to celebrate pets, pet health and medical insurance for cats and dogs.

This blog is designed to be a community where pet owners can learn and share. The views expressed in each post are the opinion of the author and not necessarily endorsed by Trupanion. Always consult your veterinarian for professional advice.

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