Vacations are an exciting break from the day-to-day routine, but when people travel, it means a change in routine for the dogs we leave behind. This is especially true if you need to board or find care for older dogs. You might be extra-worried about leaving a senior dog who needs special care. But with a little research to find the right arrangements, preparing a kit with your senior dog’s supplies, and leaving a detailed care plan, you can travel knowing your older pet is in good hands.
Which care is best for older dogs?
A senior dog will be happier keeping its routine close to normal while you’re away. Sarah Hodgson, a dog trainer, writes in the Huffington Post that “few dogs see the point in vacating their sanctuary and familiar routine.”
By keeping your dog with a trusted pet sitter who stays in your home while you’re away, your dog will feel more secure. His bed, toys, and familiar smells will keep him feeling safe while you’re traveling.
Dr. Marty Becker, writing for Vet Street, says it’s important to identify a reputable pet-sitter with plenty of experience and prepare them for any issues that may come up.
Some dogs have personalities that make it possible to stay at a dog sitter’s home, especially if you’ve introduced the dog to that environment at least a couple of times before you leave for vacation. Hodgson says that in general, dogs that are territorial or avoid socializing will be stressed in a place that separates them from home.
Senior dogs still need walks
Your senior dog probably still appreciates a good walk. In fact, a moderate amount of exercise and activity can help a dog cope with any anxiety they’re feeling in your absence.
Dr. Nicholas Dodman, in an interview with The Telegram, says a good walk can take your dog’s mind off the fact that you’ve left.
Hodgson says that you should invite your pet sitter to walk your dog before vacation so your dog sees a familiar, welcome face after you take off. Make sure your sitter knows about any exercise limitations your senior dog might have.
Special considerations when boarding older dogs
Senior dogs might have medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or bone disease that require medicine. In addition, their immune systems are not as strong, so they can have a hard time fighting sickness and may take longer to heal. Your senior dog may also need special food that’s easier to digest and has anti-aging supplements.
When looking for the right fit, go for dog sitters who have experience watching pets that need a little extra care. In fact, some sitters prefer caring for senior dogs because they’re already house-trained and don’t have the frenetic energy of a puppy!
What to pack for your senior dog
If you plan to leave your senior dog at a trusted pet sitter’s home, pack a thorough kit with
- your dog’s preferred food
- directions for administering medication
- vet contact
- emergency contact information
- favorite toys
- dog bed
- t-shirt that smells like you, or other comforting items
Finally, be conscious of your own packing! Dogs are smart and some might know to associate your suitcase with an upcoming absence. Pack discreetly to avoid stressing out your dog.
If you make plans with a trusted pet sitter who has experience with senior dogs before you travel, you can vacation with peace of mind and come home to a pet who’s been well cared for and delighted to have you back home.