The Pet Guide: Pet Care Options
Find the right type of pet care for you
Most pet owners have to deal with the reality of pet care as soon as they come home with their new furry friend. So for you newbies or struggling "sophomore" pet owners, here are some of the more popular pet care options and what you can expect.
Dog Walking and Pet Exercise
Having someone come in the middle of the day to walk the dog, give him water, and keep him company is the obvious first choice for many. Through a service like Care.com, it's pretty simple to find pet care. Someone nearby can come walk your dog for an hour at lunch for anywhere between $10 and $25 a day, depending on where you live. Different cities will have different rates--the cost of Boston Pet Care may be different than the cost of New York Pet Care. If you live in a state with many major cities, like California, we suggest checking out the rates for San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego Pet Care so you can compare rates before you hire a pet sitter. (That is, it's simple once you get over the idea of a stranger in your house when you're not home and of giving them a set of your keys.) Pet caregivers who come to your home to care for your cats may also charge by the hour or by the job depending on the type of care needed. If your cat sitter is coming in to feed, brush, administer medication and play with your cats, expect the rate of pay to increase. Additionally, most pet caregivers will charge more if they're caring for more than one pet at a time.
Most dog walkers charge an increased fee to come more than once a day (at lunch and after work, for instance), so that $60 a week (at $12 a day) can quickly became $90. For people who are frequently away on weekends for conferences, traditional dog walkers can be extremely expensive (for overnights especially), which means you'll need a supplementary pet sitting option. Cat owners who travel frequently may also need to consider supplementary care, as daily fees for regular checking in by a caregiver, for various tasks, really add up.
Doggie and Kitty Day Care
For $18 a day (most run between $15 and $35, again depending on where you live), you can drop off your dog any time between 6 and 10 a.m. and pick him up any time until 7 p.m. The hours of day care operation vary by business, so be sure the place you choose works well with your schedule. The dogs can play all day, indoors and out, with a cast of other dogs big and small, and came home each day happy and exhausted.
Many doggie day care centers offer overnight and weekend sitting for just a few dollars more, which can be convenient and comfortable for your dog since they're already comfortable with the place and the people. Some day care centers cater to cats and other small animals, and offer overnight boarding as well, just be sure you're satisfied with the safety and security, as well as the feeding and exercise regime available to the various pets.
Most veterinarians provide kennel space for boarding. Since a veterinarian's kennel houses both sick and healthy animals, make sure you check with the vet about how the boarding accommodations are handled. Find out how much time, if any, your pet will be allowed out of his or her primary enclosure each day. Some veterinarians have indoor runs, some have outdoor runs, and some have no runs at all. Keep in mind that an austere kennel in a busy veterinary office can be a very stressful atmosphere. However, having an animal doctor on site has undeniable advantages.
Pets Need Stability
Whichever pet care option(s) you choose, make sure they meet and anticipate your needs (and your pet's) in the long term. If you live in an urban area, pet care -- much like food, entertainment and rent -- will be readily available but at a premium price. If you live in the suburbs or a more rural area, expect to have to hunt a bit more for pet care options, but once found, you'll most likely pay less for that pet care than you would in the city.
No matter where you live, however, remember that pets are more affected by change than humans, and need routine and structure to be the happy, healthy pets you love and hoped to have. Their behavior (good and bad) will depend on the regularity of care and number of caregivers, so do your homework, make sure your bases are covered, and feel confident that the options you choose are ones you can afford to sustain.
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