Dog Boarding, Cat Sitter… Whats the Difference?

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smiling dog

When you like to travel but you have pets to contend with, it’s often difficult to determine what types of accommodations are best suited for your feline friend or canine companion. Here, we’ll take a look at a few different options and share information on red flags that should send you running in the opposite direction.

Boarding Your Pooch

There are two different types of overnight boarding accommodations for dogs: kennel and individual/private homes. A kennel, which is often attached to a pet store or veterinary clinic, will feature separate caged areas for each animal. Dogs will be let out to roam free, usually on a schedule, although some allow well-behaved animals to hang out in common areas with like-minded dogs. explains that any reputable kennel will require a kennel cough vaccination before allowing your dog to spend the night. They may also insist that your pet be neutered, up to date on vaccinations, and on a flea and tick preventative.

In-home dog boarding options may be a little more lenient on their requirements. It is important, however, to find a trustworthy care provider, preferably an individual who has been screened and comes highly recommended by the community. Ask your preferred care provider about their experience and relationships with emergency veterinary services if they are not on campus with a clinic. Many offer pet parents online access to live feed of their dog’s activity. Check out the puppy cams from for an example of streaming feeds.

cute British Blue cat sleepingPick a Pet Sitter

  • Unlike an animal boarding facility, a dog or cat sitter comes to your home to take care of your animal. This is an especially great option if your pet is elderly, suffers from separation anxiety, or is pregnant or nursing. You may also wish to forge a relationship with a pet sitter if you have multiple animals. A great benefit of this arrangement is that you can also often pay your provider for other services, such as cleaning, watering the garden, and checking the mail. You also sleep easy knowing your pet is safe and sound at home and that your property is not left as an open invitation for unscrupulous criminals searching for unattended treasures.

Watch Out for These Red Flags

Regardless of which option you choose, there are a few reasons that you might question your sitter’s qualifications. These include:

  • A disorganized feeding area. Your pet sitter/border should always maintain a clean and organized feeding area. Bowls should be full of water at all times, and there should be little to no evidence of food on the floor from prior feedings.

  • Uncleaned accidents. Accidents happen, but they should be cleaned immediately. If you notice multiple urine puddles or mounds of feces – especially if the latter appears to have begun to dry – this may be an indication that your pet isn’t being taken out.

  • Disrespect. Specific to pet sitters, he or she should respect your property as well as your pet. While it’s certainly okay for them to grab a snack, your fridge should not be left bare upon your return and your personal belongings should never be tampered with.

  • Discomfort with animals. A proposed pet sitter who does not seem completely at ease with your specific species or breed should be skipped over immediately.

  • Fearful pet. Even the most careful screening may not be able to pinpoint potential issues, but your pet will almost always let you know if there’s been a problem. Upon your return, if you notice your pet is especially fearful or uncharacteristically hostile toward their care provider, they may have been exposed to less-than-desirable care tactics. Dogs remember how they have been treated.

You want the best for your pet. Do your research and make sure to ask plenty of questions regarding the people and places your pet will be exposed to. Most importantly, listen to your instincts – and your animal.


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