Arranging for Pet Care During Addiction Treatment

Choosing to seek addiction treatment opens up a new world of healing and brings the possibility of a more complete whole life. Leaving behind family, work, and pets can feel overwhelming. Resources for pet care are all around, you just want to find the ones that are right for your pet. You may temporarily re-home your pet with family, friends or a boarding facility. For some pets the care of a house/pet sitter may be just right.

Family & Friends
For animals who need daily care and social interaction being included in the home of a friend or family member might be ideal. It could even ease the transition if they join a family or household they are familiar with. Starting the conversation will not be easy, but as you discuss your pet and their needs you are on the road to a solution. Discuss the challenges a friend or family member may face caring for your pet. It may take multiple conversations to find the right fit.
Pet Boarding
You may choose to have your pet stay at a boarding facility. Generally you can choose from a variety of accommodation & socialization options. Some places have people on hand 24/7 and some have carers on site during the day only. Most have options for multiple on-leash walks each day and/or time in an enclosed area throughout the day. As you explore options, consider cost, services provided & location to find the right place.
House & Pet Sitter
If your pet can be left alone all day or for multiple days in a row you may consider daily or weekly visits from a pet sitter. The sitter can provide food and water and check on the health and environment of your furry, scaly, or feathered friend. In addition, they can keep an eye on your house while you are away. This care can be provided by a friend, family member or professional pet sitter.
Resources
Veterinarians usually know of good pet sitters and can give you some recommendations. Often vet assistance who work in the office do pet sitting on the side. Some vet offices also provide boarding services. A less common, but potential resources are breed-specific rescues. They often provide fostering for their rescued animals and may be able to help you find temporary fostering. Visiting a local pet food store may provide more options, often pet sitters leave business cards at feed stores. You could also search online for boarding or pet sitting options near you.
Supplies & Details
Provide your pet carer with the name and contact info of your vet. You can let your vet know who will be looking after your pet for the weeks or months you are away. In addition to food, bowls, bedding, leashes/collars, cages, litter boxes, and any other daily needed supplies, provide any regular monthly medication your pets take. If you have time, order extra medication to cover the entire time. Provide the contact info of any other pet service provider, such as a groomer, that you regularly use. Write an outline of your pet’s daily routine–including amounts and timing for feedings–so the caregiver can try to provide as familiar a routine as possible.
Respite
It’s a big task–caring for someone’s pet or pets. If your pet is going to a family member or friend, consider arranging for an additional friend or family member who can help out the main caregiver. They could assist with some tasks or be able to help out if the primary caregiver needs to travel or has other conflicts during your time in treatment. Having some respite options can help relieve the workload of your chosen caregiver. Have a conversation with the main caregiver to explore who would be a good helper.
Entering treatment involves an incredible amount of decision making. It can feel overwhelming, but focusing on one decision at time will help you accomplish everything you need to. Having your pets well cared for will allow you to focus on your recovery.

Joe Eisele, CACIII, NCAC
Joe is the Clinical Director at InnerBalance Health Center and has been helping achieve lifelong sobriety incorporating biochemical restoration and holistic addiction treatment for over 30 years.