Pet Sitting vs. Pet Boarding, Which is better for your pet? - PetMD


Pet Boarding vs. Pet Sitting - Which is Better?

by Dr. Ken Tudor


You need to go out-of town for business, vacation, wedding or family reunion. Is your biggest concern the travel plans or what to do with the dog and cat? Will she do better in a run next to other animals and daily playtime? What about at night when no one is around? Or is he too fearful and socially unpredictable in a foreign environment and would be better off at home? Boarding or pet sitting, which is the least stressful for all concerned?

Pet Boarding

Traditionally, boarding has been the most popular solution for pet owners needing to leave their pets. Fortunately, cold concrete and steel runs or steel or plastic cages with no common social space and a rather depressing environment are no longer the norm. Pet hotels with all sorts of amenities are now more common.

Fido can now luxuriate on a doggie cot in a plexi-glass elevated run and watch DogTV. He can enjoy the pool at day camp or have one-on-one play dates or even get a massage during the day. Mimi can enjoy laser or catnip bubble playtime and then retire to her suite with multilevel plush perches complete with a closed circuit fish tank screen and bird chirps providing a peaceful background. Shuttle service to and from the boarding facility can make boarding arrangements even easier.

An even newer boarding concept has individuals entertaining dogs in their homes instead of at a boarding facility. Often those offering this option have dogs of their own so it adds a canine social element while providing a more “homey” boarding environment. Such arrangements for cats are more problematic and less available.

Pricing for these boarding alternatives vary tremendously depending on the amenities and level of service chosen. These add-ons can really run up the fees. The more personal attention given to your pet tends to reduce the stress of a new environment and strange human companions, so this added expense becomes compelling.

Many pet owners prefer boarding at a veterinary facility so that their pets have access to veterinary care. Although this seems like a great idea, most veterinary boarding facilities are the old fashioned, cold, sterile type. Because medical and surgical cases are a higher priority in veterinary hospitals, boarders are likely to be short changed on attention and care. Having worked in over 20 different veterinary hospitals in my career, I can honestly say that the boarding care I have witnessed at veterinary hospitals is typically inferior to non-veterinary facilities.

Stress is indeed the biggest problem with boarding of any sort. Pets, especially cats, are uncomfortable outside of their normal environment. Often this stress results in vomiting and diarrhea, often bloody, for the majority or entirety of the stay. Fear and timidity may reduce appetites and often pets will lose weight when boarded. And of course there is always the risk of injury due to self-trauma or altercations with other boarders during social time.

Pet Sitting

Pet sitting is generally of two types: Pet sitters that come to the house at specified times to feed, allow bodily elimination, and exercise the pet are the most common. Other pet sitters will not only care for the pets but can live at the pet owner’s house so pets have constant companions, or at least night companions.

Pricing for these services are also variable but tend to be priced at basic boarding levels with few pet sitters charging for amenities. Because the pets are in their own comfortable space many of these amenities are unnecessary for stress relief. Feeding a live-in sitter can add to the total bill, but is generally cheaper than add-ons at boarding facilities.

Pets can also show signs of stress when their owners are away but it tends to be less severe when they are in the familiar surroundings of their own homes. In 30 years I have yet to treat stress induced bloody colitis in a pet that has been cared for by a sitter.

Having sitters also has the advantage of protecting the pet owner’s home. Newspaper and mail collection by the pet sitters eliminate "away from home" signals to possible “bad guys.” Live-in sitters create near normal household activity that also discourages potential robberies.

Live-in sitters can also take phone messages and care for indoor and outdoor plants without adding significantly to costs. Live-in sitters are more likely to recognize potential health problems sooner and can arrange for the pets to be seen by a veterinarian. My experience is that pets with live-in sitters tend to be less subject to separation stress.

So, Which is Better - Boarding or Sitting?

To me the obvious choice is live-in pet sitting. It is as close to a normal environment for the pets as possible and is also great insurance against crime. It is my personal choice for my pets.

What is your choice?



Dr. Ken Tudor


The fur kids take on Bark Box!

I just recently bought a subscription to Bark Box (about two months ago), and so far it has gotten rave reviews from the pups. It's always a good combination of healthy treats and toys, and there's enough for both of them to share.




This month's was "Sherlock Holmes" themed, and it came with a cute little smoking pipe shaped squeaky toy, and shephard's pie flavored cookies...among other things. And they just LOVED it!

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Thanks for the presents, mom!

Guest Post from Rob Haddix - Some things you may not know about the dog food industry.

Feeding your dog does not have to be science, but it certainly should not be part of an industry's profit plans either!  With nothing but your own knowledge to protect you and your dog from commercial exploitation.

What you feed your dog is the most important base for its health.  I assume that your dog’s health is a very high priority for you.  Also much higher than your own emotional reactions to certain things that might appear offensive to your own taste buds!    For this reason, this chapter will discuss what is good for your dog, and I will honestly not care about it stimulating your appetite or not…  that is simply not the point.    Likewise, I will not discuss things like whether or not this feeding is convenient, easy, affordable, or anything like that, referring to traditional consumer demands.  Such issues should not be determining for what you feed your dog, if your choices make a difference for his/her health.    I do not mean to be offensive with this, but I do feel an obligation to make it clear. This does not mean that you cannot also do many things to accommodate your own personal preferences – but just not if such choices make the dog pay a price with his/her health.

The domestication process of our dogs has changed their exterior quite dramatically, but their gastrointestinal system is still like that of their forefather, the wolf.  Recent genetic studies even lead to the conclusion that wolf and dog are one and the same species!

The wolf is a carnivore; therefore, the dog is a carnivore.    The Gage Canadian Dictionary defines “carnivore” this way: “Any of an order (Carnivora) of mammals that feed chiefly on flesh or other animal matter rather than plants.  Cats, dogs, weasels, raccoons, bears, seals, etc. are carnivores.” Please note the word “chiefly”-it does not say “exclusively”….  Bears, for instance, eat a considerable amount of vegetables and are sometimes classified “omnivores” for that reason, although they still biologically belong to Carnivora.  Carnivores prefer to eat raw meat as their primary source of nutrition. They do not thrive without it, and they certainly do not cook it! Most carnivores do eat vegetables too, such as fruit, berries, vegetables, crops etc., as a supplement to their diet, yet their primary source of vegetables is the contents of the stomachs of their prey.  Although wolves/dogs can survive for some time on a purely vegetarian diet (if that is all they have access to), they do not maintain their body functions and their health very well without some serious contribution of raw meat.   It is scientifically well documented that raw meat contains at least 30 known proteins that are as essential for dogs as vitamins are for humans (and that's only what has been discovered so far), yet all those proteins get destroyed when heated.2Regardless of the efforts and the funding, all scientific research will only give limited information.  No scientist can provide answers to questions that have not been asked.  Through analysis, we can only find what we look for.  We cannot find what we don't know exists - except in very rare situations when new discoveries are made.  Such discoveries are very expensive to pursue and the work involved goes far beyond standard analysis.  The consequence of this is that no human will know exactly what your dog needs, in terms of nutrition.  Any dog food manufacturer who claims, "This food contains EVERYTHING your dog needs" is going beyond honesty.  There is no way of knowing that for any human being. This leaves us with only one relevant guide for what to feed and what not: what Mother Nature would feed a wolf in the wild. Getting as close as practically possible to that standard is the only responsible way of approaching the task of feeding your dog a healthy diet.  Fortunately, quite a lot is known about this, so we do have a strong basis for making good decisions.  One note of caution: Many people like to believe that because dogs have been domesticated for such a long time now (probably about 10-20,000 years), they have become adjusted to the kind of food we feed them.    Here are some strong reasons for classifying this as an outrageous postulate that simply cannot be right:   It is only in the last few hundred years the domestication has been serious and deliberately manipulative.  Before then, it was more a "co-habitant" relationship with no systematic attempts from man's side to change the dog's nature.