This subject is dear to my heart and of great concern to me since I am in the pet care industry. People tell me that "...their dog can hold their pee all day!" or "...oh he's used to it." BUT WHY?! We must know that it causes them just as much discomfort as we get when we have to wait for an empty stall to open up, or the next gas station, etc. Why are we doing this to our dogs? We don't do it to our cats, we give them a litter box.
I have discussed this issue with multiple veterinarians and my editorial is the consensus from my interviews.
There are potential health risks associated with forcing your dog to hold its pee for too long. Although he physically might be able to do so, extended periods of holding it in can lead to urinary tract infections or urinary crystals and stones. The inability to urine can also lead to behavioral issues. Frustrated dogs can bark, chew, and become extremely anxious, which can lead to a frustrated owner. To avoid frustration and all it entails, understand the importance of your dog’s needs and why it matters.
Adult and large dogs have larger bladders than younger, smaller dogs. These dogs should have at least 4 opportunities to relieve themselves per day. Most veterinarians recommend allowing your dog to go outside every 3-5 hours. Some dogs don’t always fully relieve themselves the first time they go outside, meaning they’re still holding a substantial amount in throughout the day. Make sure you delegate a sufficient amount of time for your dog to “let it all go” before they come back inside. Smaller and younger dogs should have at least 5-6 opportunities to relieve themselves per day, as their bladders are smaller than larger dogs.
Senior dogs and dogs with health issues have different requirements when it comes to holding it in. Dogs with illnesses, such as diabetes or kidney disease, typically need more trips outside per day. Demanding them to hold it in for more than 2-3 hours may be an impossible task. Visiting your veterinarian will allow you to better understand your dog’s needs and requirements.
Pet sitting is generally of two types: Pet sitters that come to the house at specified times to feed, allow bodily elimination, and exercise the pet are the most common. Other pet sitters will not only care for the pets but can stay at the pet owner’s house so pets have constant companions, or at least night companions. Pets can also show signs of stress when their owners are away but it tends to be less severe when they are in the familiar surroundings of their own homes. In 30 years I have yet to treat stress induced bloody colitis in a pet that has been cared for by a sitter. Having sitters also has the advantage of protecting the pet owner’s home. Newspaper and mail collection by the pet sitters eliminate "away from home" signals to possible “bad guys.” Pet sitters create near normal household activity that also discourages potential robberies like bringing in newspapers and the mail, they can care for indoor and outdoor plants and alternating indoor lights. Pet sitters are more likely to recognize potential health problems sooner and can arrange for the pets to be seen by a veterinarian. My experience is that pets with pet sitters tend to be less subject to separation stress.
So, Which is Better - Boarding or a Pet Sitter?
To me the obvious choice is pet sitting. It is as close to a normal environment for the pets as possible and is also great insurance against crime. It is my personal choice for my pets."