Don’t leave your pets in the lurch

Private Property South Africa
Carmel Woodman

While you’re on holiday having a merry old time this festive season, make sure your pets are safe and happy while you’re gone.

It’s the countdown to summertime and the December holidays. However, when you’ve got beloved furry friends, the holiday season can be challenging. All sorts of questions will arise: Should you kennel your dog, or get a house sitter? Do animals prefer staying at home? Is it safe to leave your pet alone?   Many people prefer a professional to look after their pets, within a secure environment. Taking your pet to the kennels or cattery is the best choice if you have any doubt that your pet might escape your home. For cats that aren’t well socialised or dogs that don’t like strangers, it’s safer and less stressful for them and you, to let a professional take care of them at the kennels or cattery.

If you choose this option, make sure you do the following:

  • Visit the kennels or cattery beforehand and make sure that they are clean.

  • Check whether the play areas are safe, and whether the animals are screened beforehand to determine if they are social. This is particularly important for dogs.

  • Get your pet’s vaccinations up to date.

  • Leave some of your pet’s toys with them, to make them feel more at home.
      Some people prefer their pets to stay at home while they’re away, and be looked after by a neighbour, friend or house sitter.

If this is your preferred option, there are a few essential tips to keep in mind:

  - Make sure your property is 100% secure so that your pets cannot escape. Check the entire perimeter of your fence or wall, as well as your gate area. Pay extra attention to the corner areas, pets often like to target these areas to dig underneath the fence or wall.

  • Get a pet-sitter or house-sitter, make sure they’re good with animals and have a good reputation. Check their references and have a meet and greet with your pets, to gauge how your pets will respond to the new person. If you cannot get someone to stay at the house, then find a reliable neighbour or friend to feed your pets, walk them, play with them and give them some love.

  • Leave plenty of food and water in the house and be sure to let the sitter know where the food is and how much food each animal needs. Remember, if your pet needs special medication, leave this in plain sight and explain to the sitter exactly how to administer it and how much your pet needs.

  • Leave plenty of toys at home for your pet’s entertainment and make sure that the house is a comfortable temperature, particularly for cats that stay indoors. Whether this means leaving a fan on to cool things down, or leaving a few windows cracked open, temperature is of great importance when keeping your pets comfortable.

  • Ensure that your pets are wearing tags or are micro-chipped with up to date information. This will cause you less worry, in case they manage to escape your home.

  • Warn your vet that you’ll be away, and give them your contact details, and perhaps your credit card details, in case something happens to your pet and your sitter cannot pay for it. That way, you can rest assured that your pet will still get the treatment they need.

  • Pet proof your house: hide any wires that are lying out in the open, put toilet seats down, put fragile items away, close the doors to rooms where your pets shouldn’t go (for example: a study).

  • Keep the goodbye short and sweet, as prolonging it will cause more stress on your pets and make you feel guilty. Spend more time with your pets before you leave, to ease your conscience.

  • Leave something of yours behind, like a blanket that you’ve been using, or a shirt that you’ve worn. Put this item near your pet’s sleeping area, so that your pet can feel comforted by your smell.

These tips should ensure a smooth holiday away from your pets, without too much stress for you or your furry friends.    

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