The holiday season is a time for family, friends and joyful reunions. Many folks are making plans to travel to make merry with them. While the pandemic dampened the spirit, the number of people traveling for Thanksgiving increased substantially this year. It is anticipated that Christmas travel will increase as well – especially air travel.
This may mean plans to board your pets. In my clinic, slots were invariably full well in advance of the major holidays and many of my clients had to scramble to find boarding for their cats.
Well, now it’s going to hit your pocketbooks hard.
The average cost per night to board your dog in L.A. is $48, the highest in a study done by rover.com. The price usually ranges from $35 to $85 per night. Some rates even run into the hundreds at so-called luxury dog hotels. That 5-day trip to join your siblings at Mom and Dad’s will likely cost at least $239, plus any extras the boarding facility charges if your pet needs medication or a special diet. This is up from 2018 when averages ranged from $25 to $45 per night.
If you think getting a pet sitter will save you money, think again. The average cost for a pet sitter ranges from $40 to $80 per night. I know in Palm Desert, where I live, the pet sitters I know are so booked they are not taking any new clients. The demand is so high, they can almost charge what they want. In my opinion, a sitter is a better option for cats, but it is going to cost you.
The saving grace of owning an RV is that you can take your best friend with you. But many RVs are in storage this time of year and it may be too inconvenient or impossible to take it on a shorter trip to visit relatives at Christmas.
Planning ahead may save you some bucks.
If you do plan to board, here are some tips:
- Dogs and cats must be up to date on their vaccines, and many kennels require boosters. Make sure to get your dog boosted for kennel cough (Bordetella) before you go. You will need about a two-week lead time for an injectable vaccine, but I recommend getting the intra-nasal Bordetella vaccine which can be effective much sooner. I also recommend your pup be vaccinated for dog flu, as well. For your cat, I recommend an intra-nasal booster of the FVRCP (respiratory viruses) vaccine.
- Make sure your pet has flea protection on-board. You don’t want to bring home any unwanted guests!
- Provide the kennel with your pet’s food and treats with clear instructions about feeding.
- Just in case, provide an ample supply of your cat’s or dog’s medications with instructions.
- Provide contact information of your veterinarian in case health issues arise.
- Please let your vet know the details of the boarding, including your contact information where you will be.
- Send along your pet’s bed, toys and a “dirty” T-shirt with your scents which can help make their stay less stressful.
- In either case, whether you board or hire a pet sitter, make sure you provide them a signed document granting them permission to authorize treatment in case of emergency and you cannot be reached. This is important because some emergency clinics will not treat without the owner’s permission and, of course, credit card.
- Hotel and motel chains are becoming increasingly pet-friendly. This is an option but be sure to check with the hotel to make sure you know their policies and the cost. If you are flying, check with your airline about their pet travel rules. If you have a small dog or a cat, you can often book travel if the crate fits under the seat (airlines’ rules vary). Many have become more strict about pets in the cabin and will not allow support animals. I do not recommend air travel if your pet is required to be crated in the hold.
I am continually astonished at the cost of pet care nowadays. Veterinary care, food, medications, and now boarding, have all increased significantly. Our pets are our families and we are spending money on them. The pandemic has certainly exacerbated this and shone a bright light on the increased costs. Many are staying home, not only because of the risk of COVID, but also because of the costs involved. If you do travel, please be aware that planning ahead can save you money and ensure your pet is well taken care of while you are away.
Happy holidays and safe travels.