Each pet needs a different kind of care when owners go away on vacation, according to Nicolette Nees, executive director at Haven Animal Hospital in Grand Haven.
Dogs need to be taken to a boarding facility or have someone watch them at home. Nees’ biggest suggestion is for a dog to be taken care of somewhere familiar.
“Bring them to a boarding facility a couple of days beforehand,” she said. “Bring them to play or to get groomed so they can get used to the staff.”
Dogs can get stressed or traumatized by being away from their owners. Nees suggests being prepared for anxiety by supplying things that will help the dog.
“Bring an old shirt that smells like home — anything to make it more comfortable for them and more familiar,” she said.
Cats may require less maintenance than dogs, but they “should absolutely have someone take care of them,” Nees said. “Cats can get stressed, too, and having their owners gone can cause a panic.”
Nees advises owners to either put their cat in a boarding facility or have someone come by once a day to clean up after it and provide some playtime.
For birds, Nees said the most important need they’ll have while owners are gone is human interaction.
“Birds are amazing creatures,” she said. “They live and breath having a human around.”
It can be easy for a bird to get depressed if they’re left alone for too long, and that can cause issues. Nees suggests bringing your bird somewhere that takes small animals or having someone watch the pet.
For birds and reptiles, though, “in-home care is always the best,” Nees said. Reptiles require less maintenance than other animals, but Nees recommends having someone stop by every other day.
“Fresh food and water is so important to reptiles,” she said.
It’s essential that pet owners know their animal and know their species, because some reptiles might need more care if they are on a special diet.
“Rodents are touchy creatures,” Nees added.
Some small animals need more attention than others, depending on how often they are handled.
“They crave human interaction,” Nees said. “Especially rodents that don’t have a pair.”
She suggests having someone stop by once a day to take care of the pet.