The time always comes when two-legged beings must leave their pet or pets behind as they venture out into the world. The adventures may be trips, vacations, or a long-hours shift at wok that mean pets can’t go, too. So how long is too long for a pet to be left alone? What can a person do to be sure a pet doesn’t suffer ill effects?
When my husband and I took a long trip in our ancient, but still moving, motor home, we took our two cats with us. But one of them did not adjust to traveling well; and we decided, after two trips close by and the one over 2,000 miles one way, that if we traveled any more, she couldn’t go. Since G.G. couldn’t go, then Funny Face needed to stay with her because the two don’t like to be separated. The two cats can manage quite well on their own at home with automatic water containers and feeders, a clean litter box, and no outside access. However, unexpected things can and usually do happen. Therefore, we always had someone who knew the cats check on them at least twice a week or more.
What difference does making arrangements for pets left for long periods make? Let’s look at some of the problems that might arise if pets are alone and unsupervised.
Pets left alone longer than normal can cause stress or behavior problems. Cats and dogs left inside have been know to become destructive or to eat indoor plants, actions not usual. The destructive behavior not only results in a mess awaiting owners to return, but may become a regular type of behavior. Eating house plants often leads to poisoning. Pets may revert to less socially accepted behavior, too, as a result. Injury, heat stroke, or illness due to tick or snake bites are dangers awaiting pets left outside for a lengthy time.
Even if automatic waterers and feeders are in place, they could clog or malfunction, leaving an animal without water or food.
Therefore no animal should be left without human supervision longer than an hour or two longer than what the owner would be gone normally. Someone should check on the animal regularly, give some attention, make sure water and food are sufficient, and allow the pet to feel as if not abandoned. If no one is available that can be trusted and who knows the pet, consider placing the dog, cat, or whatever in a boarding facility that you have inspected and know is reputable.
Taking on a pet is a commitment a person makes for the lifetime of the animal’s life. Therefore extra time and effort is needed when the owner must leave the pet for extended periods of time.