While dogs and cats provide excellent relief from our daily anxieties, sometimes you need a good prolonged vacation to burn off some extra steam. But animals rely on us as much as we depend on them, and being left alone or in a foreign environment can be stressful with them. There are a few precautions you should take to minimize the effects of anxiety on your pet and allow you to enjoy your trip without stressing out about their well-being.
Maintaining an Air of Familiarity For Your Pet
Cats and dogs are creatures of habit. The familiarity of home and the standard routines of everyday life provide them with a sense of stability, and even the most adventurous outdoor cat eventually likes to wander to safety and security back home. While kennels can be a reasonable option for shorter vacations, having a house sitter if you are gone for two weeks or more is a good choice. This allows your pet to stay within the presence of the sights, sounds, and smells that make up their defined territory, but it also avoids anxieties that came from being overly socialized. Interactions with other animals are a positive experience for most pets, but the unfamiliarity of a new environment and the extended exposure to multiple animals can make pets anxious and territorial. Just make sure to set up a regular schedule. Two visits per day are a good average, allowing your pets to get the socialization they need regularly, but this can vary depending on the personality of your dog or cat as well as factors like age and medical conditions.
Lean into the Familiar Routine
Whether you hire a sitter, drop your pet off with a friend, or place them in a kennel or pet hotel, your pet is likely going to experience some anxiety. If you’ve ever scheduled feeding time or walks for your dog, you’ll understand how keenly aware they are regarding the ins and outs of their routine. As their de facto parent, you’re the most assured constant in their routine, but scheduling specific activities for your pet sitter to perform while you’re away can help ease your pet into the process of being away from you. Try to have your sitter stick to this routine as precisely as possible. This will also help the pet understand the terms for times apart in the future and create a consistency they can expect when you go on vacation. Enlisting the services of the same sitter on future outings can go a long way towards making your pet feel more secure.
Put Together a Pet Emergency Kit
It’s generally a good rule of thumb to hope for the best but plan for the worst, and that’s doubly true if you aren’t physically available to deal with a crisis personally. Anything from a natural disaster to a medical emergency could strike while you’re away, and that’s why it’s a smart move to have an emergency kit at the ready for your sitter.
You want to make sure that all of your pet’s basic needs are covered in the kit. Package together secure dry food and preferably sealed water along with bowls for both. An extra leash and collar and a thermal blanket are also key, and you should make sure to include waste bags and a pet first aid kit as well. Consider packing some toys or other personal belongings like blankets as well, so your pet will have an anchor of safety and comfort even if they’re forced to leave their home. Even if an emergency never arises, the kit can double as a to go bag for walks and hikes.
Make Sure All Records Are Updated
If you’re leaving on vacation, chances are you’ve taken the time to pay off your bills and generally get your affairs in order. Your pet deserves the same courtesy. Making the time to take them to the vet and groomer can make sure everything is in order when it’s time for you to say your goodbyes. You’ll also want to make sure their tags and identification are accurate and secured so that they’ll be safe even if they manage to break from their leash or get out of their home or kennel.
Don’t Be Too Dramatic
While you’ll probably miss your little guy or girl while you’re away, making a big deal out of your departure may only make their anxieties worse. Dogs and cats can sense our emotional states pretty effectively, and making a show out of your goodbyes could instill in them the notion that you’ll never return. Treat your farewell with the same urgency as when you leave for your work commute. And if you’re still worried your dog will be anxious, check out our blog to learn some calming exercises you could try.