In-Home Pet Sitting vs. Pet Boarding?

You need to travel out of town on business, vacation, wedding or a family reunion. What do you do with your pet? Fortunately, you have several choices for pet care, ranging from asking a neighbor, friend or family member, to hiring an hobby sitter, a professional in-home pet sitter, boarding at your local vet or using a commercial boarding or kenneling facility. When considering which method would be best for you and your pet, we’ve listed the pro’s and con’s between the two more popular options for.

Boarding at a vet or commercial facility:

Traditionally, boarding has been the most popular solution. Your pet will be fed and exercised at the facility as well as have an opportunity to socialize with other pets.

During the day there is a large amount of stimulation. If your pet is use to lots happening throughout the day, they should be use to the noise and activity of a boarding facility.

If your pet has a medical issue, you can board at a veterinary facility and have the benefit of a medical staff close by.

The drawback of boarding, unless you opt for a cage free facility, is your pet will be kept in a small room or cage type kennel often sleeping on a hard surface. Since multiple animals are boarded at any given time, duties of cleaning, feeding, training, or bathing doesn’t always allow for a lot of personal one-on-one attention, especially if there is a shortage of staff. Often, pet owners assume that a staff member is on duty inside the kennel during the wee hours of the night checking in frequently on your pet. This is not the case with most facilities. Some facilities will have staff living in a home on property while some have no staff at all.

Stress is indeed the biggest problem with boarding of any sort. Pets, especially cats, are uncomfortable outside their normal environment. Pets suffering from stress and anxiety from being in a strange place, may experience diarrhea, vomiting or a reduction in their appetites. As well, there is always the risk of contracting a virus or fleas.

When it comes to pricing for boarding, rates can vary depending on the number of pets, amenities and the level of service chosen. These separate add-on fees can really up the cost.

Pet Sitting:

Hiring an in-home pet sitter is a great option for keeping your pets happy and cared for. You won’t have to burden your family, friend or neighbor with the tasks. Pet sitters offer one-on-one attention, feeding, exercising and loving care while performing light duties around your home, eliminating the “away from home” signals and discouraging potential robberies. With a reputable pet sitting service, sitters should be screened, trained, bonded and insured. With larger companies they are able to accommodate last-minute bookings, something not often possible when calling a friend or hobby sitter.

By working with a pet sitter, you won’t have to pack up all of your pet’s belonging…food, toys, blankets and bowls, pet sitters come to your home. Nor will you have the added stress of rushing home to pick up your pet before closing time or worse yet, having to pay an additional night of boarding because you’ve been delayed.

Being separated from mom and dad is hard enough. Pets that are allowed to remain in their own comfortable and familiar surroundings and are able to sleep in their favorite spot are more likely to be less stressed. Nor are they subjected to contracting any virus or fleas from being around other pets.

More than likely your pet has its routine. A pet sitter works with your routine so feeding and potty times remain on track. The personal attention that a sitter provides cannot be matched by a boarding facility. The overall length of personal care may be slightly shorter depending on the number of visits but they are focused only on your pet, not several other pets.

The disadvantage to hiring a pet sitter, whether hobby or professional, is that you don’t know the person coming into your home. Having said that, do you really know who is caring for your pet at a boarding facility? I’m guessing not. At least with a pet sitter, you can meet and interview the person in your home. Ask for references, do they seem trustworthy and reliable, and it’s a good idea to use someone that is bonded and insured.

Now that you’ve read some of the pro’s and con’s of both boarding and pet sitting, you’ve got enough information to decide which is better for you and your pet. Regardless of whether you choose a kennel or pet sitter – make sure you have provided clear instruction on what food, treats or medication (if needed) are to be given along with providing good contact information in case of an emergency.

Added Bonuses with Totally Tails Pet Care’ Vacation Care:

  • No need for additional vaccinations like Bordatella to prevent kennel cough
  • You don’t need to schedule extra time to drop your pet off, rush home to pick them up before a certain hour or pay an additional night because you can’t make it there before closing time.
  • Your pet will have the same sights, smells and sounds they are accustomed to.
  • Your home will be taken care of too. We’ll bring in your mail, paper, packages , water your plants, rotate your blinds or alternate your lights, provide a security check on your home and immediately notify you of any issues, should one arrive.
  • There are no extra fees for multiple pets.
  • Dispensing of oral or topical medication is free.
  • Brushing or combing your pet is included at no additional fee.
  • We don’t charge extra for dog walks, belly rubs, cuddles or kisses.
  • We’ll send you a text and photos to keep you updated on your pet.

(While it’s no secret that I am a pet sitter and that I lean towards the pet sitting direction. I have tried my best to keep this fair by outlining the pro’s and con’s of both. Ensuring your pet is healthy, safe and free of stress should always be a priority.)




  1. Amanda Drew

    I’m going to be staying my sister for about a week to help her get ready for her wedding, but I have a pet cat named Juno. My sister is terribly allergic to Juno, so I can’t take her with me. I like how you say that when you board your pet, it gets to socialize with a lot of other animals. Juno loves playing with other cats, so I think this would be good for her. I’ll just have to find a pet boarding place to take her to.

    • Michele

      Amanda, Make sure to ask the facility if they will let cats play together in a room. Most facilities I know do not allow it but will for dogs. How well does your kitty travel and readily accept different environments? Cats tend to prefer staying in their own familiar surroundings and for them, bringing in a pet sitter may be the best option. Have fun at the wedding!

  2. Sharon Wilson-Smith

    I like that you talked about how my pet can have an opportunity to socialize with other pets and will be exercised. My husband and I are scheduled to leave the country by the end of the year, and it’s important for me to find a dog boarding facility for our Labrador. It’s necessary for me to choose a boarding facility where he can socialize and play with other dogs to make sure that he will have a good stay while we’re away. For me, this can kind of benefit will help our dog to adapt to the environment easily. Thanks for the tips!

    • Michele

      You’re most welcome Sharon! Good luck in your search.

  3. Koibids

        Nice Blog!! Thanks for giving the information about pet sitting.

    • Michele

      You’re most welcome! Glad you enjoyed it