Traveling for the Holidays? Use Tech to Give Your Pet More Than a Kennel Stay

Tech innovations help alleviate worries over pets left behind when traveling

The holiday season is upon us! That means lots of traveling (the AAA predicts a record year this Thanksgiving week for travel). Factor in the number of Americans traveling with the amount of households that have a pet (79.7 million as of 2016) and it’s clear that what to do with pets during holiday travel is a concern for many.

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Some people have small enough (and calm enough!) canines and cats to easily tote along on trips. However, for those with larger dogs or those visiting family and friends during the holiday who may not share the same enthusiastic love for dogs, figuring out what to do with a pet can cause some worry. Of course, there are kennel stays, but they are fairly expensive and most pet owners don’t like the idea of leaving their pet where it may be behind kennel bars most of the day.

The increase in pet ownership has given rise to several new ways to board or hire pet sitters when owners are away. Many of them exist due to tech innovations, and they provide far more peace of mind than the typical kennel stay.

Pet-Sitting Services
Taking a queue from successful “new economy” services such as Uber, Lyft, and TaskRabbit— a slew of websites have launched where everyday people can volunteer themselves or their homes for pet-sitting. Two such pet-sitting sites have really taken off: DogVacay.com and Rover.com. I’ve personally used DogVacay.com with pleasant results.

Signing up for either service is free. Once you sign up, you are shown a listing of people who have signed up with the service as pet-sitters. These people’s identities are verified by the service. Some sitters will stay in the owners’ home with the pet, while others open up their own homes. They will post pictures of their homes so a potential user of the service knows what kind of environment their pet will be in. Pet sitters also will have reviews from others who have used their services. In addition, the daily boarding rate using DogVacay.com or Rover.com is often cheaper than using a kennel. My DogVacay.com sitter sent pictures everyday of activities she did with my dog. I was able to see my pet was relaxed and well-cared for while I was away.

Doggy Spas and Hotels
Doggy spas and pet hotels have become far more popular options than traditional kennels in many locations around the country. Often, pet spas and hotels will offer pet “day-care” where busy owners can drop off their pets for a day, as well as extended boarding.

These pet retreats usually include open play areas where dogs can interact and socialize with each other. Increasingly, these businesses are offering customers the ability to check in on their dogs via the Internet using a smartphone. For additional fees, most pet spas and hotels offer bathing and grooming. Some of the fancier pet hotels will even offer your pet a private room (or one shared with a compatible roommate) that has a TV or music playing to soothe the pet.

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