For those planning to travel long distances during the holidays on trips that cannot include their pets, making sure that cherished furry family member has a safe and happy holiday is a top priority.

Finding the right home for the holidays for your pet and having confidence that special loved one is well taken care of takes planning ahead, local pet boarders and sitters say.

Getting recommendations from pet loving friends is a great way to find the best fit for your pet. Veterinarians and trainers often know the most reliable and reputable options in your area. A visit to the potential kennel ahead of making reservations is a good idea.

“The Inn” at Riverstone Animal Hospital in Canton offers a wide variety of pet accommodations for dog and cat guests ranging from luxury to basic. The Inn promises high quality, home-like pet boarding, whichever accommodations you choose.

At Savy Paws Pet Resort, 310 Adams Jenkins Memorial Drive, Canton offers boarding, daycare and grooming. Savy Paws offers comfortable suites in two sizes with an elevated cot. Each dog has its own space, though fur buddies from the same household can stay together.

“At Savy Paws Pet Resort you don’t have to pay extra for daycare/play time, a luxury suite, or for the spa bath on departure day when you board your pet overnight,” General Manager RaeAnne Logan said. “We include all these things so each boarding pet enjoys their boarding stay and goes home clean and tired.”

Staff at the Inn see helping their boarding guests be happy while their people are away as their top priority.

“Our goal is to make each, and every, fur baby feel as comfortable as possible while they are staying with us,” said Crissy Luikart, kennel manager at Riverstone Animal Hospital in Canton.

The emphasis at Riverstone in the pet boarding environment is to provide a smaller number of enclosures that allow for more individualized care. The kennel also specializes in pets with “special needs and medical conditions, such as seniors, diabetics, and pets needing extra peace and quiet,” the clinic promises on its website.

Luikart said that during the holidays Riverstone Animal Hospital offers special celebrations for the pets on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“On Thanksgiving and Christmas, we send a special picture (to owners) wishing each fur baby a Happy Holiday from them,” Luikart said.

Luikart and her family enjoy making and baking special holiday treats each year that are dog/cat friendly for those boarders who are not with their families for the holidays and who do not have dietary restrictions

“Trust your boarding facility, they want to make your pets stay and your experience as comfortable and stress-free as possible,” Camille Boles, a registered veterinarian technician at Riverstone said.

The staff at Riverstone and Savy Paws offered more advice for those preparing to leave their pets.

“Make sure that if you can’t be reached that you have someone set up as an emergency contact that can make decisions regarding your pet in the event there is an emergency,” Luikart said. “If you know your pet’s triggers for when you are about to leave, such as seeing suitcases, pet carriers, etc., go ahead and bring those out several weeks prior to help the pet be more comfortable.”

Other advice includes:

Bring their favorite bedding, or something that smells like home. This can be very comforting to them.

Make sure to have all their medications (labeled in proper bottles.) Registered technicians at Riverstone administer medications and check on your baby when giving those.

Being familiar with your pet and whether they have separation anxiety or nervousness around boarding. Let the kennel staff know so they can pre-authorize medications or ways of helping pets be comfortable.

If they have never stayed at a boarding facility, consider doing a boarding trial for 24 hours to see how they will react.

Logan recommends preparing the pets by getting them into the daycare program before boarding them. “ This will give the pet(s) a chance to get comfortable in the rooms and play yards before boarding overnight,” she said.

Make sure to visit your vet prior to boarding, because pets are required to be current on vaccinations, and it is always recommended to make sure your pet is on heartworm and flea prevention as well.

Plan to make reservations as early as possible, as holidays often book up well in advance. Logan recommends to book at least eight weeks in advance for any period that overlaps a break in the public schools schedule.

The Inn at Riverstone Animal Hospital is open on Christmas Eve until 2 p.m. and on New Year’s Eve until 4 p.m. so pets can be picked up or dropped off.

Riverstone is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, so clients would need to pick up the next day. The kennel is open on Sunday from 5 to 6 p.m. for boarding pick up only.

Savy Paws Pet Resort is open around most holidays to ensure that the customers can drop off or pick up so the pets can enjoy time with the family as long as possible. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve it is open 6:30 a.m. until noon.

Riverstone offers basic accommodations and luxury boarding suites for canines and felines. There are also min-suites for canines.

Veterinarians Greg Nutt and his wife Simone Nutt opened the practice in 2002.

The feline boarding suites at The Inn are in their own enclosed room with viewing windows to the Celebration Garden.

The feline suites provide several platforms for rest and play as many cats feel more secure in a high place. The condos are outfitted with soft sleeping cushions, designer food bowls, and covered litter boxes for privacy. The suites have glass windows and doors for a more home-like atmosphere.

The canine accommodations all have runs, with sizes dependent on the level of stay.

The fenced-in exercise and canine play yard is available to all boarding guests. The secure area provides a safe place for dogs to run and play during their stay. Dogs can be off-leash and they provide a variety of play toys as well.

The area has a unique synthetic turf to help pets feel more at home. The K9 Grass® is an antimicrobial artificial turf specifically designed for dogs.

Riverstone also offers pet boarding of small exotic pets such as birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters. For exotic pets you do need to provide your own enclosure for their boarding stay.

Riverstone Animal Hospital is located at 112 Bluffs Parkway in Canton. For information visit their website at

Another popular option for traveling pet parents is pet sitting. For the animal the advantage is being able to stay in familiar surroundings, and pet sitters will often also bring in your mail and water your houseplants.

Sit and Stay Pet Sitting in Canton serves clients throughout the community. Visit their website or call (678) 910-6030.

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