Pet Sitter Decisions

One of our most treasured possessions is our pets. We love them and they love us. We do our best to care for them, love them, and attend to there needs each and every day. But what about when we are gone, whether it is for an extended day, or longer, like a business trip or vacation? How can we make the best decision to be sure their needs are met while we are gone? The love we feel for our pets can’t be replaced, but we can make sure they are well cared for.

You first have to decide if you want your dog or cat cared for in your home. Are you comfortable with a stranger coming into your home? Which option is the least stressful for your pet; someone coming into your home, or taking them some place else to be cared for?

The cost of all of your options also needs to be part of your decision. You need to find someone or some place that is reputable, reliable, and who is pet friendly.

Boarding Your Pet

If you decide you want to board your dog or cat, you should visit several facilities to see which one you feel is best for your pet. You can ask family members, friends, and/or your vet for recommendations. You can also go online to find a local pet sitter, or look in your yellow pages. Look for a reputable place that is professional, dog and cat friendly, and preferably one that is near you. Then begin your interview process. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it. What may be good for their pet may not be the best for your pet. For instance, some boarding facilities may be better for dogs, and not for cats.

Create a list of questions you want to have answered before you make your decision. Call your prospective boarding facilities and ask them as many questions as you want. Have them ask you any questions they need answered, and to list any requirements they have, such as vaccinations, etc. A phone call can easily narrow down your prospective facilities.

Some questions you might want answered are:

1. Are the dogs and cats always caged?

2. Do they get exercised? How often?

3. Are cats and dogs in separate boarding areas?

4. What requirements do they have regarding vaccinations, etc?

5. What are the pets fed? Canned and/or dry foods? How often are they fed? Can you bring your pet’s favorite foods?

6. What is their price schedule? Are there any additional charges that you could incur?

7. Ask if you can bring your pet for a visit. You will want to also inspect the facility. Watch how your cat or dog reacts to the environment. Remember, they may act or react differently when you leave.

8. Also consider that any negative reaction your pet may have, or you have, will make you realize that a pet sitter coming to your home would be the best avenue to pursue.

Pet Sitters at Home

Once again, formulate some questions to have answered. You can also find a pet sitter the same way as you could find a pet boarding facility; ask family, friends, online or yellow pages.

Knowing your pet’s personality is the key to making your decision. Your options for a pet sitter are:

• Someone who comes into your home once, twice or 3 times a day, depending on the needs of your cat or dog. The availability of your pet sitter may or may not meet your pet’s needs if it is more than twice a day.

• Someone who stays in your home to both pet sit and house sit. House sitting may include some light chores such as bringing in the mail and papers, play with your kitten, water indoor and outdoor plants and yard, clean the yard of dog waste, walk your dog daily, etc. This person may also have a full time job, so they would not be there 24/7.

• Take your pet to someone who pet sits at their home. This could possibly be a 24/7 position because they are full time pet sitters. Or they may work full time also, caring for one or two pets at a time.

• Take your pet to a family member or friend’s home just because you don’t want to leave your pet alone all day, they know the dog or cat. You may have someone express an interest to take care of your dog or cat.

Either of the last two options would be because you don’t want someone coming into your home.

The cost of services is definitely a major criteria in making a decision. Prices vary in different parts of the States. When comparing the prices be sure to compare ‘apples with apples’ and not ‘apples to oranges’. Find out if they have defined services with their charges not just that they come to your home for ½ hour twice a day. Ask what they would do during that ½ hour. If you take your pet to another home, find out if they will have other pets at the home. Your pet may not get along too well with another pet they don’t know.

When you are hiring a professional pet sitter to come to your home daily, look for a person that is detail oriented.

• See if the prospective sitter is taking notes regarding what you want from them, like a schedule of feeding times, what to feed your pet, etc.
• Ask if they will be bringing anyone else with them, such as their children.
• How will they communicate with you in your absence?
• Do they have a back up plan if they can’t be there – illness, car trouble, etc?
• Will they be the same person to come each day?
• Do they have references? Always call and check out the references.
• Are they bonded? Liability/theft insured?
• Discuss a plan should your pet have an emergency.
• What would they do if they saw something unusual at your home, like a burglary?
• Do they have a formal contract?
• How long have they been a pet sitter?
• Are they trained and licensed?

These are just some of the questions you could ask in an interview. Also know that they will have questions of you.

Don’t wait until the last minute to find a pet sitter, especially around holidays. Good sitters do get booked in advance. Don’t wait until just before you leave to have your pet’s vaccinations become current.

Be considerate of your pet sitter as you want them to be to you and your pet. Always have an interview with them, preferably in your home, and be sure they meet your pet. Leave plenty of dog food and cat food and pet toys for them. You may be unavoidably detained because of weather or illness.

As you can see, deciding on care for your dog or cat should not be left until the last minute. Once you have established a good relationship with a pet sitter, the next time you need them will be much easier. Always check on the rates and services before you sign a contract to make sure they are what you are expecting.

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian nor do I have any formal training in any medical field. This article is not to replace the advice of your veterinarian. I am only providing options and ideas that you may want to discuss with your veterinarian.

Lori Kniff loves cats and dogs. She has had a cat most of her life and several dogs. She is concerned with the health and welfare of our pets. Please visit [] for items, such as dog toys, dog chews, or cat toys that will help you show your love for your cat or dog while you are away.