What are the top options for pet care in Austin?
When exploring options for pet care when you travel, the top choices are sending your dog to a boarding kennel or hiring a pet sitter.
How do you know which option is best for your dog?
Lets examine the pros and cons of each...
Dog Boarding in Austin Pros:
Cost – the rate for basic care for one dog ranges from $25 per night to $80 depending on the boarding kennel. That said, most kennels require you to pay extra for longer play time, larger kennel space, walks, special food or supplements and medications.
Socialization – hanging with other dogs can be fun for your dog. This is a plus for highly social dogs, or dogs who prefer dog company over human company.
Vacation – some time away from home could be good. If you think about it, a boarding kennel is like summer camp or spring break for your dog – they’ll get a change of scenery for several days while you are on vacation.
Dog Boarding in Austin Cons:
Cost – unless your pet is a simple, anything-goes kind of dog, odds are you will be paying a lot of money for “extra care” such as particular food, adequate exercise breaks, large boarding room, walks, camera monitoring, etc. Kennels may seem reasonably priced at first glance, but when you really look at all of the needs of your pet, those service costs can quickly surpass the cost of a pet sitter.
Separation Anxiety – a chaotic kennel environment can exacerbate behavior issues or separation anxiety symptoms. Dogs will boycott food, feel stressed and act out which can lead to potential problems or illness.
Vaccinations – most boarding facilities require proof of current vaccinations and current flea/tick and heartworm treatments.
Onsite Staff – many kennels are not staffed by someone overnight. This is not ideal for pets who may be receiving medical care or who are used to sleeping near humans.
Kennel Cough and parasites – dogs are prone to illness and disease when confined for periods of time with other dogs, and possibly unsanitary conditions.
Risk of Injury – no matter how careful a facility is about behavior assessment or evaluations, the fact is dogs are pack animals that will try to establish dominance when in a group. This can lead to outbursts of aggression from minor scrapes and muscle strains to life threatening bites.
Feeding Schedule – most boarding kennels feed at specific times. This policy can be detrimental to dogs who are sensitive to changes in routine or who require supplements or other snacks outside of strict meal times.
So, what about a pet sitter?
Austin Dog Sitter Pros:
Personalized care – dogs (and cats) will be getting a lot more people interaction than they would in a kennel. A relationship is formed between pet and pet sitter which can ease separation anxiety, build trust and make it easy to monitor eating and bowel habits (and unusual animal behavior) more readily.
Price – a good pet sitter sets an all-inclusive price. That means if your pet gets special meals or treats a few times a day, it’s not an extra charge. A good pet sitter understands that these things are included in the overall rate and is a part of good dog care. Beware of pet sitters who want to nickel and dime – they are businesses foremost and not true animal caretakers. Pet sitting in households with multiple pets is often cheaper than using a boarding kennel.
No Place Like Home – allowing pets to stay in their home provides them with the familiar and comforting smells and surroundings they are accustomed to. Many older dogs prefer this type of familiar environment versus the rowdy summer camp feel of a boarding kennel.
House Care – a bonus of having a pet sitter is they will take your trash to/from the curb, collect your mail, shipments and newspapers, remove flyers & business cards from the front door (a tell-tale sign alerting others that you aren’t home), water foliage, rotate blinds/lights, and be a constant at your property.
Austin Dog Sitter Cons:
Illness or 24/7 Care – most pet sitters are not able to provide 24/7 care (yes, we have a life to attend to as well). We are also not medical professionals. If your dog has recently been ill or has a chronic serious illness, choosing a veterinarian boarding kennel that is staffed 24 hours to monitor your dog’s health, or hiring a Vet tech to pet sit for you might be a smarter choice.
Cost – pet sitters can get very expensive. In Austin, the cost is anywhere from $60 per night to $110 and beyond depending on how many pets you have. Typically, people with multiple dogs or cats benefit most from the use of a pet sitter. Services like Rover.com can be a good alternative to a professional pet sitter – but be sure to do a meet and greet and screen carefully!
Many pet sitters dismiss boarding kennels completely. I’ll admit that I used a boarding kennel for my late MinPin Jiminey Cricket years ago when I went away on a weekend ski trip. I carefully screened the kennel beforehand. It worked out fine (seemingly), but that was the only time I used a kennel. I think younger, healthy, non-aggressive, extroverted dogs do best in kennels, and even then I wouldn’t recommend using a kennel for longer than a week at the most, and ideally just for a weekend at a time.
Ultimately, you know what is best for your pets’ needs. Take time to make the right decision for yourself, your pet and your budget.
Have you had good or bad experiences with boarding kennels or pet sitters, or do you have an Austin boarding kennel you love or hate? Feel free to put your two-cents below in the comments.