Finding a pet-sitting service in Vietnam

The concept of dog sitting, as well as pet accommodation in general for short or long-term stays, is new to Vietnam. Properly managed, professional services are hard to find and are in-demand. The development of this service industry should be encouraged as it does create a rewarding vocation and provides an essential service. However, it is a difficult business to establish here because you are at the whim of local bylaws (written and unwritten) and ‘administration processes.’ Some local residents and businesses vehemently despise the idea of pet accommodations in their neighborhood because of issues such as noise, odors, safety and liability. Another negative factor is the high rental fees in Saigon, as services should be located within a short distance of pet owners. Over the years, attempts have been made in building pet hotels with full services that include accommodations, retail, grooming, training and pet care monitored by veterinarians. Some never got off the drawing board while others finished construction, operated and then closed soon after.

How to find pet accommodation services in Saigon? Turn to social media – in particular Facebook’s pet-related groups. These groups and their members resemble an informal ‘pet-bnb’ for Saigon. Embedded in the conversations are testimonials and recommendations for pet-sitting services provided by pet stores and vet clinics. A recent trend is growing where ‘doggy people’ are opening up their homes to occasionally pet-sit, however their services are inconsistent and require advanced planning. Post a request for pet accommodations in the “Dog-Owners Saigon” and “Dog Lovers Ho Chi Minh City” groups; also use the search function to find other conversations.

Beware of pet stores and vet clinics offering reasonably priced short- and long-term accommodations. Because of the lack of training in Vietnam, the staff may not know how to handle and care for pets. So do your research and seek out current testimonials on these businesses. Here are some issues to go over with your potential service provider before deciding whether they should care for your pet:

Conditions of the Boarding Space

Look at the area where the dogs play communally and are kept at night if the service runs like a kennel. Hygiene is the number one issue: are food and water bowls regularly cleaned? Is there proper waste management?

Be Current with Vaccinations

Bring along your pet’s ‘healthcare passport’ showing current vaccinations. For health and safety reasons your dogs must have current rabies, ‘kennel cough’ (bordetella) and canine distemper and parvovirus (DHPP) vaccinations before entering a common boarding area with other dogs. It is mandatory even when you take your dog to a local park in Vietnam.

Tick and Flea Controls

Your dog should be treated with a flea and tick control treatment. Depending on the time of year known for the outbreak of these parasites, you do not want your once flea-and-tick-free dog coming home infested with them.

Age and Sex

In Vietnam it is recommended to have your dog or cat spayed or neutered, especially if you are using a boarding service frequently. The alarming rate of some pet owners unaware of this issue, or just simply refusing to have the operation performed, is just socially irresponsible. You do not want to bring back an unwanted pregnancy.

Evaluate Behavioral Temperament

A little bit of common sense is required here. You should know your dog’s temperament and he/she should be balanced and social with other dogs. Some pet owners do not really consider that the rambunctious behavior of their dog, a result of improper training, can be the cause of many problems when boarding with other dogs. Smallish ‘toy dogs’ like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians can create havoc in pet boarding areas if they are not balanced and social.

Contact Wayne at media@petmagazine.vn for his Pet Yellow Pages Vietnam to locate pet accommodation service providers in Saigon, Hanoi and Da Nang.

BIO: With a family that includes six cats, two dogs and a couple of dozen fish, Wayne Capriotti is a zoo curator and, along with his wife, publishes Vietnam’s first pet magazine Me Thu Cung.