How long can I leave my pet alone?

Our pets, specifically our dogs and cats, are either very independent or very dependent on our love/care for them. Either they really know how to manage themselves with a lot of oversights (*cough* cats) or they absolutely don’t (*cough* dogs.) But how long can you responsibly leave your pet alone for? And what does that solitude do to their health and well-being? Our team at Fetch! Pet Care asked these questions and found some great answers!

While cats may be stereotypically known as very solitary creatures, they are actually very social, and some cat owners would even argue their cats get sad when they leave. They form strong emotional bonds with their humans, and pet companions, so it’s essential to know your pets’ habits and behaviors before leaving them alone for too long.

Dogs, on the other hand, are known for being drama enthusiasts who act out when they’re alone. Every moment of solitude seems to be, for them, endless frustration. They can, however, spend time alone and entertain themselves if they’re set up for success. Toys, treats, and comfortable areas help make those moments of separation easier for them to manage.

Below you’ll find some suggestions from our owners, and sitters, to help set your pets up for success during periods of solitude, but also what an ideal length of time is considered for each pet.

Leaving My Cat Alone… I think they’re good?

More often than not, our cats exist on a completely different plane of reality. Are they under the dresser? Who knows! Did they escape into the sunroom? How long have they been out there? Because of this, many cat owners have admitted to leaving their cats alone for extended periods of time.

Experts say, however, your cat shouldn’t be alone for more than 8-12 hours.

Cats are notoriously known for being low-maintenance. Their bathrooms are indoors, their food is typically small and easy to keep full, and putting out a few water bowls does the trick. So, what’s so bad about leaving them home alone over the weekend or while away on business for a few days? One healthy way to ensure your cat isn’t lonely or bored while you’re gone is to provide some enrichment and fun!

Moving toys, safe elevated play-places, and even leaving on a radio or pet-friendly TV show can make the environment more comfortable for your cat. While a great co-play toy, flirt poles can also be set up using a stand or piece of furniture so your cat can bat away all day long!

One way to ensure your pet is always happy, and safe, is to invest in a pet-sitter! Specifically for cats, who aren’t as comfortable in new spaces or amongst others they don’t know, having an in-home pet sitting service to care for them during your absence will ensure your pets are happy and thriving while you’re off getting things done. All of our locations, nationwide, offer in-home pet sitting services for animals like cats, small rodents, or even reptiles and birds! This removes the fear of the unknown and keeps your house mess-free.

Leaving My Dog Alone… Something’s Certain to Go Wrong.

While you might be right, there are ways you can prevent bigger issues from arising. We often forget that mental stimulation, or enrichment, can be just as exhausting and effective for dogs as physical exercise! And mental enrichment can happen even during your absence.

We all know dogs need to be let outside, they need their food and water more regularly and have a tendency to get into things if they’re alone for too long because they require much more interaction than some of the other pets in our lives. Because of this, it’s important to know about your pets’ habits. How often do they go potty on a regular basis? Do you eat or sleep at certain times of the day? Have they experienced any “episodes of destruction” in the past while you were out or at work? These are important things to remember…

Here are a few great tips you can live by!

  1. Live by the bladder – How long does your dog typically “hold it” while you’re at work or out running errands? That might be a good benchmark for whether or not you need to bring someone in or limit your time away from home.
  2. It’s also important to consider your pup’s age – If you’ve got a puppy, they probably shouldn’t be left alone for more than a few hours. An older dog, however, with a routine could be sleeping while you’re hard at work.
  3. Don’t forget to make them comfortable – Having enrichment toys, or solo activities, can really help distract a pet while you’re away. Tape/staple free cardboard boxes, and even heads of lettuce, can really be a fun activity for them that isn’t too destructive and requires minimal clean up. (Hey, it’s better than the couch being destroyed, right?)

All of that being said, our experts recommend no more than 6 hours of alone-time for your pups to ensure they’re happy and healthy!

Remembering that your pets are social creatures, and require regular interaction and guidance, will really help make things go more smoothly for you and your pets. And it’s never a bad time to have a recurring, trusted, and highly-trained pet sitter on standby for whenever you may need them! Our teams of bonded, insured, and safety-certified staff will be happy to help guide you through these kinds of questions and make sure you feel like you’re the best pet parent around!

To learn more about pet care, and how you can ensure your four-legged family members are well cared for, reach out to your local Fetch! Pet Care today. We love ‘em like you do!