Choosing A Good Pet-Sitter

So you’ve booked the hotel, picked up the airline tickets and are all ready to head off on that perfect vacation. But what to do with your beloved pet? If the vacation spot were closer you’d bring him/her along, but that’s not an option. And you hate kennels and would never put your baby into one. But how do you find and accommodate a pet-sitter?

The first and possibly best place to start your search is at your local veterinarian, even before you open your phone book. Many times vets have a list of volunteer pet-sitters that are on call to help deal with abandoned animals or those who are being “fostered” out while they heal. Aside from being experienced, they will have almost immediate access to your vet in the case of an emergency.

But what if your veterinarian doesn’t have such a list? Well, the second choice should, ideally, be family and friends who live nearby and who can monitor both your property and your pet. Remember, your pet won’t be used to dealing with a stranger and anything you can do to lessen the stress would be good. Of course you won’t want to pick your elderly Aunt Ethel who’s deathly allergic to animals and in a wheelchair, but your neighbours may be willing to help out as well as make sure that your home stays safe and secure in your absence.

Finally, there are professional pet-sitting services that you may choose to hire. Insist on an interview with the person who is going to be assigned to your home and don’t be afraid to request references and to follow them up with phone calls and discussions as to how their last client feels about him/her. Most services count on having a good reputation and should go out of their way to supply references as well as documentation on how trained their sitters are to deal with emergencies.

Should you insist on medical training? It depends on your pet and how much care he/she needs. If your pet is diabetic and needs injections, you may want to insist on a professional over your good friend Nancy who faints at the sight of a needle. But if all you need is fresh water and making sure the food dish stays full and your pet safe and entertained for a short time every day, then you may want to consider keeping it local.

Now that you’ve found your sitter, let’s prepare the house for his/her visits daily. A lot of people forget that a sitter needs to have access not only to the house but to the supplies inside the house as well as information.

Set aside an area in your home specifically for the sitter, a spare room or a closet that can be secured from your pet. Inside this space place the dry and wet food; extra dishes, any medication that doesn’t need to be refrigerated as well as a small pet first aid kit (your vet can tell you what should be included in this). As well, write out the numbers of where you plan to be staying, your vet and immediate family members. Make sure that you give the sitter a single house key and be sure to retrieve it when you return from your vacation along with any notes or documentation you left behind.

A family vacation can be a wonderful experience, but worrying about your pet back home can put a damper on it. But with a little foresight and research you can enjoy yourself knowing that your pet is being cared for and will be thrilled when you return!

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