Summer is approaching, and as you plan your vacation, you may be concerned about who will take care of your senior pet. Leaving an older pet, especially one with special needs, can be challenging and cause anxiety. At Caring Pathways, we understand these concerns and want to provide you with recommendations to reduce stress for both you and your senior pet during your time away.

Opt for Home Care:

Home is where the heart is, and it can be the best environment for senior pets. Older pets often have cognitive issues or underlying health problems, making it difficult for them to cope with change. Stress can even worsen existing health issues. If possible, arrange for in-home care to keep your companion comfortable and content in familiar surroundings. Maintaining routine is crucial for older pets’ well-being.

Choose In-Home Pet Sitters: 

In-home pet sitters offer a convenient solution. They can visit your home or even stay overnight, providing care and companionship for your pets. Look for pet sitters with previous veterinary medical experience who are comfortable administering medications and providing nursing care. Take the time to interview potential sitters and ask for references to ensure they can meet your pet’s specific needs.

Consider High-Quality Boarding Facilities:

If in-home care is not an option, finding a reputable boarding facility is essential. Look for a veterinary hospital that offers boarding services, particularly if your senior pet requires medications or specialized care. Choose a facility that is experienced in caring for older pets and provides a calm and comfortable environment. Bringing familiar items from home, such as beds and toys, can also help ease your pet’s anxiety.

elderly pets

Provide Clear Instructions:

Whether you opt for in-home care or a boarding facility, make sure to provide clear written instructions regarding your pet’s medications and care requirements. Include details about feeding schedules, exercise routines, and any other specific needs your pet may have. Clear communication will help ensure that your pet receives the necessary care and attention in your absence.

elderly pets

Emergency Preparedness:

Prepare for emergencies by creating an emergency plan for your senior pet. Elderly pets, especially those with underlying health issues, can deteriorate quickly. Make sure you are reachable during your trip and provide the caretaker with an emergency contact. Discuss your preferences regarding emergency treatment and indicate the preferred veterinary hospital for normal business hours and after-hours care. If end-of-life care becomes necessary, communicate your wishes and consider giving permission to the caretaker to seek care on your behalf.


Leaving your senior pet behind during your vacation can be stressful, but with careful planning and consideration, you can ensure their well-being. Whether you choose in-home care or a boarding facility, prioritize your pet’s comfort and routine. Take the time to provide clear instructions and prepare for emergencies by creating an emergency plan. At Caring Pathways, we hope these tips will help you and your family have a worry-free vacation, knowing your senior pet is in good hands.

Written by: Dr. Emilea Burton, Caring Pathways Veterinarian

Dr. Emilea Burton was born in West Virginia and then spent about 14 years in North Carolina before moving to Colorado. She attended North Carolina State University for 8 years, earning a bachelor’s degree in zoology and then her DVM degree in 2015. She pursued a small animal internship at the VCA Veterinary Specialists of Northern Colorado and received additional training in neurology, surgery, internal medicine, emergency/critical care, and general practice. After spending several years in general practice, Dr. Emilea learned about Caring Pathways and the invaluable services they provide in the community. She believes palliative care and providing a peaceful end of life transition are perhaps the most meaningful gifts we can give to our pets. She is grateful for the opportunity to bring comfort and compassion to families and pets during these final stages of life. 

Emilea Burton

Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice

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