Pet Sitter Essentials

Special time with friends, Christmas shopping, ten extra pounds, travel… the holiday season brings all this and more to many American families. For pet owners who must fly across the country or drive out of town to attend celebratory gatherings, it may also bring a pet sitter. Consider the following essentials yours will need to know in order to take the best possible care of your furry family members while you are away.

Written Instructions – The holidays are busy for pet sitters as well; she may have more than one client going out of town. Leave her with detailed written care instructions to ensure nothing is overlooked. For best results, discuss them with her in person before your departure so she can ask any questions. Things to include are:

  • Date and time of your departure
  • Date and time of your return
  • Preferred visit times (if she isn’t staying at your home)
  • Usual feeding times
  • Usual walk and/or play times
  • Any medications and instructions
  • Location of important items like food, medications, leash, carrier, extra kitty litter, treats, etc.
  • Your pet’s personality and behavioral quirks (bolting, biting, stalking, etc.)
  • Numbers where you can be contacted (cell and physical landline)
  • Number for the veterinarian
  • Another family or friend’s number as an emergency contact

In Case of Emergency – You may want to contact your veterinarian before your departure to leave instructions regarding your emergency care preferences. As noted in the list above, it’s also wise to recruit the assistance of a friend or family member who will be in town. This person can serve as an emergency contact for your pet sitter should she be unable to reach you. Leave them a spare key in case the sitter misplaces hers.

Make a Map – If your sitter may have difficulty finding everything she needs, make a map of the locations of essential items as well as noting them in your written instructions. Additional ‘essentials’ may include the vacuum, mop, ‘accident’ cleaning supplies and plastic bags. In case of inclement weather, show her where to find flashlights, batteries and the fuse box.

Plan for Delays – Ask your sitter to keep your house key until you have returned home. If something delays your flight, she can still access your property to care for your pets. This is another case in which your emergency contact may come in handy. If your sitter is not available for the additional time, you can ask your friend for assistance.

It’s important to choose a pet sitter you feel you can trust. Referrals from family, friends and neighbors are often a good way to find a qualified one. You can also search for a professional at www.petsitters.org and www.petsit.com.

Do you plan to use a pet sitter this holiday season? How did you find the right one? We’d love to see your suggestions in the comments.

Julie Perkins

About Julie Perkins

A self-professed "crazy cat lady" and slave to three furry masters, Julie loves all things fuzzy. Throughout her life, she has been owned by cats, dogs, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, fish and even a hermit crab. A freelance writer who has perfected the fine art of typing with one hand (because there is a cat on top of the other one), she lives in Colorado with her husband and a menagerie of critters.

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