Traveling for the holidays or vacation? What about your pets?

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) — We don’t want to, but sometimes pets have to be left behind during vacations.

Whether it is during the holidays when we go to families who are allergic, or you’re taking a trip to some exotic locale where pets aren’t exactly welcome, it’s something that most pet owners face at least once in their lives. Luckily, there are some options for pet owners locally if you cannot find a way to bring your pet pooch, feline or whatever else you have to where you’re going.

For many, the option of letting your animal stay at a boarding kennel may be the right decision. There are several in the greater Westfield area, with five listed on the Yelp website in the area.

A room at Wintergreen Kennel where pets get one-on-one attention
A room at Wintergreen Kennel where pets get one-on-one attention

When pets stay at a boarding kennel, they are able to spend time with other animals, get attention from staff who are there for most of the day and generally get their own room to stay in at night.

“Each day they get tender love and care,” Judith Conlin, owner of Wintergreen Kennels in Southampton, said. “Someone is here with the dogs every day of the year.”

Maximus the Labrador retriever basking in the sun in the outdoor play area of Wintergreen Kennel
Maximus the Labrador retriever basking in the sun in the outdoor play area of Wintergreen Kennel

Many other kennels, like Wintergreen, will also provide your pets with specialized diets, administer any medications that they may need and some may even give your furry friend essentially a spa day.

Wintergreen and others will pamper your pet with grooming, including a thorough cleaning, nail clipping and in Wintergreen’s case, passive drying of the pets in warming shelters.

Bailey being groomed at Wintergreen Kennel
Bailey being groomed at Wintergreen Kennel

Of course, these options are at an additional cost in many cases, and with prices ranging from $20 to $50 a night, the cost can climb quickly. However, if stays are booked over an extended period of time, many kennels will provide a discounted rate and many, such as Wintergreen, will provide you with updates on your pet, including pictures or video, each day.

In addition to kennels, there is an emerging way of taking care of pets when people are gone. Pet sitting has become a popular alternative for many people, especially for those whose pets may be less hospitable to staying away from home, like cats. The option is similar in cost to kenneling and provides stability and flexibility for you and your pet.

“People don’t realize that the option’s there,” Katherine Cartagena from Paws Up Pet Sitting in Westfield, said. “They get a puppy for Christmas and then they realize they have to go back to work, so then what?”

Pet sitting provides owners with the ability to not just have someone watch after their pet when they are on vacation, but even if they just want someone to check in while they are working.

Pet sitters like Paws Up will set schedules with you and determine times to visit. When they visit they may feed the animal, spend time with it or take them for a walk—it’s all in how you structure it with them. Additionally, the pet sitter may even stay overnight with the pet in the home, which is one of the services Cartagena offers, as well.

Katherine Cartagena from Paws Up Pet Sitting posing with her cats
Katherine Cartagena from Paws Up Pet Sitting posing with her cats

Another advantage to pet sitting is that the pet can stay in your home, which provides the animal with an additional security—especially when its owner is gone.

“They’re already losing their owner for that time, so we don’t want them to lose their home too,” Cartagena said.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of pet sitting however, is that it is convenient. Most kennels require an advanced notice that there will be services needed, such as staying overnight, but Cartagena said that pet sitters are generally more flexible and can be requested on the day that a visit may be needed.

Regardless of your decision when you vacation or go away for a holiday, make sure that the kennel or pet sitter is pet CPR- and first aid-certified. Also, make sure to have all of the pet’s veterinarian information, as well as in medical conditions, provided to whoever may be caring for the animal.

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