You’re thinking about traveling and realize that you will not be able to take your pets with you. What now? Do you place them in a kennel? Some animals do well in a kennel, but others suffer ANXIETY due to the strange surroundings . Also they are exposed to the germs and behavioral issues of the kennels other residents. Do you leave them with a relative or ask a neighbor to take care of them? Well, you know what, you really don’t want to inconvenience them and besides, they may have plans of their own.
There is an excellent alternative, a professional Pet Sitter. Your pet can stay at home in their familiar surroundings unexposed to the anxiety of strange surroundings, other animal’s issues and receive the attention and excellent care they need and deserve.
The first step in finding a Pet Sitter is to identify your pet’s needs. This would include the duration of your travel, the amount of time you want the sitter to spend with your pet during each visit, your pet’s exercise requirements, your dietary stipulations and pet’s medication needs.
The amount of time you will need pet sitting services will not only include the time you are away, but also the interview process, pet introduction / orientation and post travel follow up meeting. Most professional Pet Sitters will not charge for these services, but will include them as a professional courtesy.
The amount of time that your pet sitter spends with your pet depends on your pet’s needs. Pet sitting can be as simple as a once daily visit to check that there is water available and food present, to a combination of pet and house sitting where the sitter stays at your home.
The time the sitter stays with your pet will be determined by what you feel your pet needs. Normally most pet needs can be met by a couple of visits (morning and evening). Food, water, exercise and medication needs may be addressed with two visits. If your pet is an older or young animal, a mid day third visit can also be scheduled. Sometimes, a pet’s separation anxiety can be so severe, that you may require a sitter to stay in your home. This is not only beneficial to your pet, but also helps give you peace of mind about the security of your home.
Once you identify what your pet’s needs will be, the second step in finding a Pet Sitter is to ask people, whom you trust, if they know of someone who is a pet sitter. Your pet’s vet is a great place to start. A professional pet sitter will introduce themselves to the area’s veterinarians and let them know that they are available to the area’s pet owners.. They will learn the location of each vet, their contact and emergency information. Also, the sitter will ask to leave their business card with the office if allowed.
The next obvious place to search for a Pet Sitter is to ask your friends who are pet owners who they use. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. A recommendation from someone you trust is the highest endorsement and the process of interviewing and hiring will be off to a great start.
Other places to find a Pet Sitter include your Chamber of Commerce, the internet and bulletin boards at area businesses. Always do your due diligence in selecting a Pet Sitter that you do not know. Ask for references and call them. You will be leaving the care of a family member, your pet, to this sitter.
After you have found a Pet Sitter, you will need to setup a meeting to discuss your pets needs and your expectations. It is always best to put your instructions in writing and go over them with the sitter. Some items that you will want to discuss are medications needs, dietary requirements, exercise, play toys, a letter to veterinarian authorizing emergency services, exchange of contact phone numbers and emergency plans.
It is important that the sitter administers your pets medications as your vet instructs. The best way to make sure that this happens is to write out the amount of each dose and the appropriate time to give it. Also, if there is a specific way or trick to administer the medication, be sure to include this tip in the instructions.
Your pet will want to be feed their usual food at their normal feeding time. Be specific as to what type of food to give, the amount and the feeding time. Your pet’s treats should also be specified. One of the best ways for a sitter to handle your pet is through the giving of treats. Be sure that your sitter knows what treats are acceptable and how many treats can be given per day.
If your pet is accustom to an exercise program, such as walking or play periods, let the sitter know. Be sure to show the sitter where you keep pet toys, leashes and walking halters. Be specific as to how much exercise and play time you expect the sitter to spend with your pet.
In your instructions include the contact information of yourself, the vet that you use and emergency plans. Usually your vet will have an after hours emergency procedure to follow. Be sure to include a letter to your vet authorizing the sitter to seek treatment for your pet if it becomes necessary while you are away. Also give the sitter the phone number of a relative or close friend to contact if an emergency occurs with your pet or with your home.
A professional Pet Sitter will have forms for you to fill out that will include all the items that we have discussed here. Also, they will give you their contact information to take with you while you travel.