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Travelling? Here's how to prep for time apart from your pet

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Dog looking out window waiting for owner

You're leaving on a jet plane, but your beloved pet is staying home — and you know they're not going to be happy about it.

A work trip, vacation, or far away family visit may require you and your dog or cat to be temporarily separated while you're on the road. While leaving them behind isn't easy (even on days when you're just going into the office), we've rounded up some advice for how to manage the separation and the separation anxiety — both yours and theirs.

Cat getting microchip scanned

Notify your vet and microchip company

Janet Bredin, North Bay and District Humane Society's shelter manager, says she always makes two phone calls before taking an extended trip: one to her vet and the other to the company that manages her pets' microchip data.

“If I go away for two weeks and I'm out of the country and I have a house sitter come in, I always notify my vet ahead of time to say I'm out of town.” She lets her vet know the current health status of her cat and dog, including medications, in case it's been a while since their most recent vet visit.

Bredin supplies them with her pet sitter's contact number and asks for it to be added to their file. “And then I usually have my credit cards on file with my vet clinic, because I don't want my animals to do without,” she adds.

“All of my animals are microchipped,” says Bredin, “So when I go away, I report that to the microchip company as well so that if something happens to my animal and they're found, the microchip company has an emergency contact on file.”

She says, this prevents a situation where “the animal is potentially sitting in a shelter or rescue and they've left a hundred messages on my phone which has been turned off because I'm out of the country.”

Poodle dog laying on couch

Find a new friend (for your pet)

A qualified, experienced pet-sitter should be willing to meet you and your animal for a getting-to-know-each-other session before you have to travel

Be open to interviewing more than one sitter to see how your pet responds to each of them. Ask for references, and give them lots of information about your pet so that both of you can decide if a pet sitting arrangement is a good fit for your cat or dog.

Depending on your pet's personality, they may be less stressed by your absence if they're in their own environment. Fortunately many pet sitters offer in-home services

If your dog or cat will be staying with a sitter, meet them at the sitter's home so that both you and your pet can familiarize yourselves with the space

If your dog is already a star at daycare, find out if the daycare offers overnight boarding. This is an ideal situation for daycare dogs who know and love the space, the staff, and the other dogs they get to hang out with when you're at work or away.

Jack Russel dog sitting on welcome home mat

Don't make leaving seem like a big deal

Some of us already know the strategic tactical manoeuvres required to pack and extract a suitcase from your home without your travel-sensitive pet noticing (good luck with that). Even if your dog or cat views your half-packed bag as just another spot to catch some Z's, it's still a good idea to keep your departure casual.

For animals with even mild separation anxiety, a long, drawn-out goodbye can increase the stress that stems from you leaving. It's better for them if you make a quick exit accompanied by a pat and a treat, plus the requisite “Be good!” and “I love you!”

And finally, for pets that get anxious when separated from you: Leave a blanket or article of clothing that has your scent on it. Many animals will feel more comfortable if they can lay down on a sweater or blanket that smells like their beloved pet parent.

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