You know you’re going to have the best time on your Caribbean cruise.  You’ve been dreaming of all that sunshine and fantastic food for months.  But while you’re relaxing in the warm tropical breeze, who’s home looking after Fido or Fluffy?

Sure, you can ask your neighbor to pop in to feed the cat or walk the dog, but your beloved pets are used to so much more care than that.  So, take a few moments to make the best plan for your pet while you’re away.

There are lot of options available for vacationing pet owners, from affordable dog walkers to luxurious pet resorts, but only you know what best suits your pet.

Know Your Pooch’s Personality

Your pet’s personality is your first stop on figuring out what’s best for them.

Some cats can be real homebodies. They love their sleeping places, and their routines, and it can be upsetting for them to be uprooted.  For pets like this, or small animals like guinea pigs or hamsters, it’s best to consider someone who will come to your house.

There are lots registered pet sitters in every city.  There are two big professional pet sitting organizations, Pet Sitters International ( and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters ( – which is U.S. only).  Each has local sitters listed on their websites.  You can also find local critter sitters listed in the phone book.  Interview a few to make sure you’re comfortable with them.  They will ask you questions about your pet’s habits, so they get to know your animal.  A registered pet sitter will then draw up a contract with you outlining expected services, how often they will come to your house, and how long they will stay.

Another benefit to a pet sitter is that some may also be your house sitter.  They can water plants, bring in the newspaper, and even run small errands.  Some pet sitters can even stay overnight, if that’s what you wish.

If your dog is social, and you worry he won’t enjoy being cooped up at home, you may want to consider putting him in a kennel.

Forget the frills!  What you’re looking for is the quality of the staff and the cleanliness of the operation.  When you visit, you should be allowed to see all of the facilities, and ask any questions.  The kennel should look and smell clean everywhere and the animals should look well cared for.

The kennel will require a health certificate from your veterinarian, and proof that vaccinations are up to date, so make sure you leave time for a quick vet appointment if you need.

If you are boarding your pet, bring your pet’s regular food.  Boarding can be stressful enough on your dog or cat without adding a change in diet.  You may also want to bring your cat’s regular litter, and a special bed or toy, if the kennel allows.  It’s also nice if you bring a blanket that smells like home.

Whether you decide to board your pet or go with a pet minding service, be prepared to leave several emergency contact numbers, both for you and for someone locally, in case of emergency.

You know your pet best, so you know if it’s better to keep them at home, or bring them to a kennel.  Just take the time to look at a few places and interview a few people so you know that you’re making the right choice for your dog or cat. You want to make sure that even the fluffy members of your family enjoy your vacation as much as possible.

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