Choosing holiday care for your dog

It’s holiday season and many of us are looking forward to some precious ‘down time’ away from home. For most dogs, family holidays mean going to kennels or visits from a dog-sitter. The team at your local Healthy Pet Club practice have put together some points to help you decide which option to choose.

Points to consider

The following points apply to both kennels and a dog-sitter:

  • Ideally, start your search with a personal recommendation – your vet may be useful here
  • Follow up any references – and look elsewhere if none are provided
  • Expect to be asked lots of questions about your pet – if the kennel/individual doesn’t seem interested in your dog, keep looking
  • Ensure that:
    • You are clear what your dog’s daily routine will be, including meals, medication, walks, playtime, grooming, toilet opportunities, etc
    • There are clear procedures for veterinary emergencies
    • The kennel/individual is insured
    • The person responsible for your dog has your contact information
    • You book early
  • Lastly, trust your instincts – if something doesn’t feel right, keep looking.

Kennels vs dog-sitter

The decision on how best to look after your dog depends on various factors including:

  • Your judgement about whether he would be happier at home or in kennels
  • Concerns about disease
  • Availability of good kennels/dog-sitters
  • Cost.

You know your dog better than anybody, and only you can decide whether a kennel or a dog-sitter would suit him. Once you have made your decision, the points below should help you choose a provider.


It is important that you are comfortable with somebody who will look after your dog and come into your house. In addition to the points above, make sure that you interview the person and ask about their previous experience. You may also want to check whether they are registered with an umbrella organisation, and whether they have a DBS certificate.

Before you make a decision, schedule a ‘playdate’ with the sitter and your dog, and watch how they interact. And once you have booked a pet-sitter, try to put a back-up plan in place, just in case the sitter cancels at the last minute.


When choosing a kennel, keep the following in mind:

  • Check that the kennel is licensed with the local authority
  • Find out about their vaccination policy
    • Don’t send your dog unless vaccinations are required
  • Drop in unannounced one day; consider staff attitudes and whether the dogs look happy
  • Check out the living and exercise areas
  • Find out whether your dog would:
    • Play/exercise with other dogs
    • Be kennelled alone or with others
    • Feel intimidated in their kennel (some dogs may prefer to have no nose/paw/eye contact with unfamiliar dogs)