Summer is almost here, and more and more people are getting ready for vacations. When planning a trip, many owners deal with the frustrations of who is going to take care of their pet(s) while they are away. Some elect to have them boarded, but that may not be the best situation for all pets. Many pets would be best served to stay at home in their familiar environment, with their normal routines, and avoidance of potentially scary traveling (especially for cats). At-home pet sitting can often be achieved through trusted family and friends, but that is not always an option for everyone. So how do you find a pet sitter that you can trust to take care of your pets while you are away?
Where to begin?
Personal recommendations are often a good place to start. Ask friends, family, your veterinarian, or even your dog trainer. They may know of a trustworthy and reliable pet sitting service or individual! If you strike out there, searching online sources, such as local humane society recommendations, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (http://www.petsitters.org/), or Pet Sitters International (https://www.petsit.com/) are also good places to look.
What should I look for in a pet sitter?
- If hiring from a professional service, you should ensure that they do background checks on all their pet sitters and that they have received proper training.
- Additionally, the company should have liability insurance, and be licensed and bonded.
- Make sure to ask for and then check references, of both the company and the pet sitter.
- Interview over the phone prior to an in-person interview.
- In-person interviews should include meeting your pet(s), to see how they interact and if the pet sitter will be comfortable with your pals, and vice versa.
- Find out if the company has available back-ups in case your pet sitter becomes ill or injured.
- If your pet has any medical conditions that require treatment, find out how the pet sitter will keep records of medications given.
- Find out how the pet sitter will be able to contact you while you are away.
What do I need to do for my pet sitter?
- Go over and provide daily routines, including the walking/exercise schedule, feeding schedule, treats, toys, etc.
- Go over and provide all medications, dosages, and when they are due, if applicable.
- Go over and provide all emergency contact information.
- Discuss with the pet sitter if an emergency does arise, whether or not the pet will go to the pet sitter’s veterinarian, or your own veterinarian, and how fees will be handled (ideally your veterinarian is the best choice, as all medical records will be available).
- Do a complete tour of your home and let the pet sitter know where all needed materials will be (ideally all in same location), and ensure all food/supplies that will be needed while you are away are enough to last through your return.
- Keep your pet up to date on vaccinations, and have appropriate identification tags on your pet’s collar.
- Keep your pets well-socialized to ensure the pet sitter will be able to handle them.
- Let your pet sitter know who has a back-up key to your home in case they lose the key, and how to contact that person.
If you take these recommended measures prior to selecting a pet sitter and then leaving your pet in their hands, you will be able to feel relaxed and enjoy your vacation knowing that your pet is happy at home.