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.

Your Turn

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.

14 Comments on “Home Exchange Tips for Pet Owners

  1. I really like what you have posted in here and it is such a big help for dog owners that they have this kind of information. I am glad that you shared this kind of post to us. It is a big responsibility for this and it is such a relief when you have this cute pets in your house.

    Kennels & Cattery

    • I’m glad you found my blog post helpful! Our pets are like our family and we want to be sure they are well cared for when we travel. I hope you have the opportunity to try pet exchange on your next vacation. Happy travels!

  2. Looking for a home/ pet exchange. We live in Santa Barbara/Summerland California. We are looking to do some traveling. France, Fiji, New Zeland, Thiland, Bali, or any French speaking Beach. We are looking for an exchange where we care for each others pets. We have a cat and a dog whom need minimal care. Basically food and a 10 min walk a day oh yes and they sleep with you if you don’t mind. Feel free to contact me with any ideas we are open. Gina and Mark. 🙂

    • Hi Gina,

      Santa Barbara/Summerland is such a beautiful area, I’m confident that you’ll find a home exchange. And maybe a pet exchange too! Thanks for your comments.

  3. I have brought my dog with me on a few exchanges- but I don’t generally take her overseas.

    Through exchange I made a wonderful dog loving friend from Toronto who also loves New York. Now when I have to leave my dog behind- she comes and stays at my home and takes care of her.

    I think she is doing me a favor and she thinks I am doing her a favor!

    I also had one previous exchanger that had a similar breed of dog actually take care of my girl while I was in their home- along with my dog walker. It worked out very well.

    • Ronni,

      How wonderful that you’ve befriended someone who loves animals AND has a New York state of mind! There are so many options when we home exchange and you have taken advantage of them! Good for you.

  4. hello. we live on the sunshine coast qld. ocean views. very quiet area. and would like to exchange a house, with pet – pets, with one, preferably in the s’th. island, dec. jan. feb. or there abouts. we have a shar- pei dog. Everything negotiable. Cheers neil

    • Hi Neil,

      Please feel free to post your HomeExchange.com listing ID in the comment below so that members can find and contact you.

      Happy home exchanging!

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