Cats | Dogs | June 17, 2016

Things to Consider When Choosing a Pet Sitter

Val Culpin
By: Val Culpin
Puppy eyes

Summer is here and vacation plans are front of mind for many of us. Often, summer plans include the family pet, as the demand for pet friendly vacation spots increases. But it’s not always practical to take your four legged family member along.

Some pets, especially dogs, might enjoy the busyness and activity of a boarding kennel where they get to interact with other dogs and have communal play time. However, boarding kennels may not be the answer, especially for pets who live in the home. Cats in particular are usually best left at home if possible. Putting some pets in a kennel situation when they are used to your couch can be traumatic for them. Enter the Pet Sitter!

Pet Sitters come in many forms and personalities. Sometimes they are just a family member or friend. Sometimes a friend of a friend who has referred them. Often it can be staff of Veterinary Hospitals who pet sit on the side. One thing is for sure. If you know you are going to need a pet sitter, start looking for one well ahead of time.

There are a number of things to consider when choosing a pet sitter.

  • Will you expect the sitter to stay at the house with your pet or will they come in a few times a day to feed, water, exercise and play? This can make quite a difference to the amount you pay.
  • If you have more than one pet, will the sitter’s rate differ?
  • If your pet sitter is ‘live-in’ is their food included in the rate?
  • If you are hiring someone you don’t know, are they insured? Has a background check been performed? Most professional pet sitters are bonded and insured, such as those who belong to Pet Sitters International.
  • If they’re not a family member or friend, can your pet sitter provide references?
  • If a professional pet sitter, will they provide a written contract outlining the expectations of both parties? If not, it is best to find another sitter. You are entrusting this person with the keys to your house and the lives of your beloved pets.
  • What kind of background does your sitter have with pets? Basic behaviour knowledge and good old fashioned common animal sense is essential.
  • Does the potential pet sitter have at least a basic understanding of First Aid? Are they pet savvy enough to know when it’s time to get a pet to the vet or when a simple home solution may suffice?
  • Do your pets LIKE the pet sitter? Pets will often tell you who they do and do not like simply through their body language. And they are often correct in their judgements.
    In the case of an emergency for the pet sitter, is there backup care available to step in and look after your pets?
  • Will the sitter provide reports to you while you are away if you request them?
  • Is the pet sitter willing to comply with your pet’s schedule for feeding, exercising, playtime and bedtime?
  • If your pet requires daily medication, is the sitter ready and able to administer those medications?
  • Does the pet sitter ask YOU questions about your pet(s), their likes, dislikes, personalities and quirks?

Knowing your pet will be well looked after is the key to a happy, carefree vacation, so do your homework before you go and then enjoy yourself!