Home Exchange Tips for Pet Owners
Guest Post By Shelley Miller, Home Exchange Expert
Six in ten Americans own a pet, 44% own dogs, and 29% own cats. Is it any wonder that when considering a home exchange, one of our first thoughts is about our furry family members? About 25% of us even sign our pet’s name on greeting cards. (Duh!)
As with everything about home exchange, you have options. My family loves our two dogs dearly and we’ve exchanged our home 13 times in 12 years. There are great pet care options available.
Here are four home exchange pet care ideas…
1. Pet Exchange
Yes, it’s true. People exchange their home, their car and sometimes their pet. When my family did a home exchange in Windsor, England our home swap host, Paul, asked if we wanted to care for their pets. I figured a cat, or maybe a bird. But Paul e-mailed me with the list, “two dogs, three geese, six sheep and seven fish.” A menagerie! My 8-year-old daughter was thrilled with the idea and my husband agreed to assist her with animal care.
A few months later, ensconced in our Tudor home on 3 acres in Windsor, Michele slept with the two adorable Border Terriers, Troppo and Tufty. She fed the sheep and collected eggs from the geese.
Experts say that when humans interact with animals our stress levels decrease. All I know is that caring for that collection of animals connected us to England in a way nothing else could. Troppo and Tufty welcomed us to their country with all the licking and cuddling and nudging we could ask for. Their very presence made us feel at home.
2. Boarding Kennel
When pet owners go on vacation, kennels are a traditional choice of pet care. The average kennel customer boards their dog about four times a year. To select one, ask you’re your friends or veterinarian for kennel recommendations and then visit a few personally. Use your own animal instincts to determine the best one: is it clean, is the staff friendly, do the boarded animals appear safe and happy? Some kennels even have web cams; it’s fun to watch your pet online and you’ll feel good knowing he’s safe and happy. Check with your city or county to ensure that the kennel is licensed and registered. For more kennel suggestions look at this helpful website: The Humane Society of the U.S.
3. Take Your Pet With You
In one-third of households surveyed, dogs go along on family vacations, whereas 11% bring kitty. HomeExchange.com members note on their home’s listing if pets are OK to visit their home. If your home exchange partner has marked “Yes” then you can consider the idea of taking Fido with you. But it’s still a good idea to e-mail your home swap partner with pertinent details about your pet: breed, weight, age, etc. If they confirm that you and your pet can vacation in their home then let the pet travel research begin! Always ask if other pets live in the home. You want to ensure that peace reigns in the animal kingdom. For all your pet travel questions, including details about Pet Travel by Car and Pet Travel by Air, check out this website: PetTravel.com.
4. Your Pet Stays At The Home of A Friend Or Pet-Sitter
When my family lived in Europe for five months and completed five home exchanges, dear friends of ours offered to care for our Australian Shepherd, Blue. In our situation this was definitely our best option and we were lucky to have such a generous offer. Our friends owned a home with a big backyard and had children the same ages as ours. Blue was well cared for and had a stress-free transition between families. He even learned some cool new pet tricks while we were abroad. Be sure to discuss your pet’s routine with your friends: eating, sleeping, exercise, location of pet bed etc.
Doggone Good Ideas For Purrfect Pet Care
- Anytime you leave your pet with someone else ensure that the caregivers have the name and contact information of your veterinarian, including a map of how to get there. Alert your vet about your travel plans and ask her what documentation she needs to care for Spot or Fluffy in case of an emergency while you’re away. My vet keeps my credit card information on file and the cell phone numbers of both my husband and me.
- Provide the caregiver with your pet’s typical food, water bowl, a few pet toys, and leash. Your pet will feel more at home with familiar items.
- Ensure that your pet has a collar with tags showing his name and a good phone number. Of course, you have the current pet license tag there too. Did you know there are collars available that display the pet’s name and phone embroidered right into the collar? Check out this website: Gotags.com.
- No matter which care option you choose, make certain that your pets are up to date on their vaccinations. You’ll need a vaccine record from your vet to share with a boarding facility or airline.
- It’s always a good idea for your pet to visit the location of where they’ll be living while you’re on holiday, be it a private home or kennel. A couple weeks before your trip schedule a play date at the facility and allow your pet to familiarize himself with the environment, and the other pets.
- A happy heart is a must when traveling. Knowing that your pet is safe and loved will allow you to focus on your travel partner and your adventure.
As an avid home exchanger and loving pet owner these are my best suggestions. What else can you suggest?
About the Author
Shelley Miller, home exchange expert, writes articles and leads workshops that show travelers how to experience the world authentically and affordably with home swap vacations. She and her family have completed 13 home exchanges in 12 years. Connect with her at: www.HomeExchangeExpert.com, Twitter, and Facebook.