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A dog in a shirt and sunglasses, with a blue suitcase and a straw hat.
Pet Blog

What to Pack for Your Pet Sitter or Pet Boarder

 

Your pet can’t always come with you when you travel (unfortunately). Whether you’re hiring a pet sitter or taking them to boarding, this is how you should prepare to give them the best experience.


Pet Care Options

Cross-country flights and grandmas with delicate china collections mean that pets aren’t always ideal traveling companions. If you’re wondering where can you leave your dog when you go on vacation or how to find a companion for your cat during your weekend business trip, you have a couple of options:

  • Pet sitting: A pet sitter allows your pet to stay in their own home while you’re gone. You can hire a daily sitter who stops by a few times a day for walks and feeding as needed, or an in-home sitter who will live in your house with your pet while you’re gone to provide constant companionship and continue their daily routine. Pet sitting is a good option for pets with anxiety issues and those who don’t get along with other animals.
  • Pet boarding: Boarding your dog or cat means they stay outside your home while you’re gone. This may be at a boarding kennel or other pet boarding facility, a doggy daycare center that does overnights, private in-home pet boarding in someone else’s house, or a more luxurious option like a pet hotel. Pet boarding can be great for very social pets and may include extra services like a pet groomer. Traditional pet boarding may not be the best option for pets with behavioral issues or pets who aren’t kennel trained.

It’s possible that you might be able to find a trusted friend or family member who your pet already knows to take on the responsibility of pet sitting or pet boarding in your absence! If that doesn’t work for you, there are professionals ready to help.


There are many sitting and boarding services out there, and looking for accredited providers will help to ensure that you’ll be getting someone you can trust. The National Association of Pet Sitters can help you find a reputable pet sitter and The Professional Animal Care Certification Council has a directory of certified pet care facilities where you can leave your dog while on vacation near you.


Once you’ve found where you can leave your dog when you go on holiday or the pet sitter to keep your cat happy, it’s on to phase two: preparing everything your cat will need for their staycation.


What to Always Pack

Whether you decide that sitting or boarding is right for your pet, there are some essentials that you should always pack for your dog or cat. Make sure you have the following ready to go for your pet sitter or to bring along for your pet’s boarding stay:

  • Identification: Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with a current ID tag—even better, have them microchipped too for extra security!
  • Care instructions: Does your pet have any unique needs? Whether it’s instructions on how to prep their food, the triggers for their anxiety, or the lullaby they need to hear before they go to sleep, write it all down for their caretaker.
  • Emergency contact information: Include phone numbers for your pet’s veterinarian and a trusted friend to contact if you can’t be reached.
  • Medication: Do they need to take daily supplements or medications? Make sure their carer has enough for their whole stay and knows how to use them.
  • Medical records: Provide your pet’s carer with all the details of their current vaccinations, medications, allergies, and medical conditions as well as their pet insurance information (if you have it).
  • Good collar/harness and leash: If your pet needs to be walked outside, make sure they have a well-fitting collar or harness that they can’t slip out of and a leash they’re comfortable using.

What to Prepare for Your Pet Sitter

You might not think you have much work to do to prepare for a pet sitter since your pet will be staying in your home with all their favorite things, but you have to prepare your home for both your pet and the sitter who’ll be visiting and possibly living there in your absence. Here’s what to prep and what to pack for your dog sitter or cat sitter:

  • Guide to your home: Provide your pet sitter with instructions on where to find everything they’ll need to care for your pet (food, medication, grooming supplies, cleaning products, etc.) and how to navigate your home (alarm systems, off-limits areas, where they’ll be sleeping, etc.).
  • Guide to your pet: What does a normal day in the life of your pet look like? Give your sitter a list of your cat or dog’s favorite walks, enrichment activities, and more—and when they like to do them. The closer they can stick to their normal routine, the better.
  • Pet-proofed home: Your pet might normally have great manners, but things feel different when you’re not home and if they’re left alone for longer periods of time. Limit their access to food, valuables, and any sensitive areas of the house.
  • Stocked-up supplies: Have a healthy supply of everything you need for your pet’s day-to-day life (food, litter, medication, etc.) and the just-in-case items that your sitter hopefully won’t need (shampoo, first aid supplies, etc.)
  • Things to keep ‘em busy: Make sure your sitter knows the things that will keep your pet happy when they’re bored or anxious—from your cat’s favorite toy to long-lasting chews that will fill your dog’s afternoon.

What to Pack for Pet Boarding

When you’re trying to make your cat or dog feel comfortable away from home, you’ll have to pack a little bit of home to take with them. The good news is that boarding facilities are well-prepared with all sorts of pet care supplies from toys to grooming, so that makes your packing list pretty simple. Here’s what to pack for dog boarding and cat boarding:

  • Pet food: Your pet will be the happiest (and so will their tummy) if they eat their normal food while they’re away, so make sure to pack dog food for boarding. Prepare the amount of food you need to last for the full length of your cat or dog’s stay plus a little extra juuuuuust in case. For example, if you’re leaving your dog in boarding for a week, pack eight days worth of food.
  • Pet treats: You can’t go wrong with including a few of their favorite treats, especially if they have any dietary restrictions that would prevent them from chowing down on the boarder’s house treat selection.
  • Their favorite things: You don’t need to bring their whole toy box, but if your pet has a favorite toy, bed, or blanket that comforts them, let them bring it along!

Tick off all the boxes on this packing list and you’ll be well on your way to preparing your dog for boarding or making your cat comfortable with their pet sitter. Being separated from your best friend can be difficult for both of you, but with the right prep, you’ll each be able to enjoy your vacations worry-free.


P.S. If you decide you don’t want to leave your dog during your vacation, check out our tips for bringing your dog or cat along on your travels!