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It can be incredibly difficult to go on vacation when you own dogs, cats, or other pets. If you know for a fact you can’t bring them along, finding a sitter, boarding facility, or intermittent pet care can be time consuming, stressful, and expensive. Even bringing along your pet has its own host of problems and considerations that need to be made.
For some vacationers, it’s not difficult to bring their pets along. They may choose to vacation at a pet-friendly camp ground or they may own their own vacation home and can freely bring their dogs or cats as they chose. Other families ensure that any vacation destination is pet friendly before booking, though it can be difficult to find pet friendly accommodations and they tend to be more expensive or have breed restrictions. If you’re traveling long distance, such as to a tropical destination or another continent, you may not be comfortable or feel safe having your pet fly.
For these reasons and more, vacationing pet friendly is not always possible.
As a result, some pet owners may forgo vacation all together while other pet owners might chose to board their pets or find sitters for their dogs and cats instead. Truthfully though, boarding your dog or cat may not always be the best choice if they have behavioral or health problems. If you’re thinking about boarding your pet here are some things you might want to consider first.
While finding a pet sitter might require more homework than simply boarding your dog, this may be the best option for you and your pet. Consider my tips below on how to find the perfect pet sitter. You can also download my free pet sitter interview guide.
1. Find someone you know
If you know someone who is comfortable and competent around dogs and cats, ask them to watch your pets for the week. This way you’re letting someone in your home who you trust, your dogs and cats trust, and who’ll be aware of any quirks or behavioral problems your pets have.
It can be incredibly stressful for your pets to be away from you all week and even more stressful when there is a stranger coming and going, invading their personal space, trying to take them for walks, feeding them, and trying to play with them. If your dogs and cats are familiar with your sitter, they’ll feel happier and safer.
Before we found our sitter now, all of our sitters were family or friends. It worked out great because they were already comfortable with our pets, knew our routine, and were willing to stay in the house.
2. Consider asking a vet or vet tech if they can watch your pet
If you want to ensure that your sitter is well versed in pet care, consider asking your local veterinary clinic’s vet tech if they would be willing to watch your pet for the week. They may be busy, but some may be willing to pick up some extra work for some extra cash.
The best part about asking a trained veterinary technician to watch your pet? They’re trained in animal medicine and can provide expert pet care. That way you’ll know your pet is getting the care they need and deserve, especially in the case of a medical emergency. They’re also a familiar face to your pet, which can help ease some anxiety.
Every time my family needs a sitter, we ask one of our favorite vet techs. To be honest, she’s a little more expensive than your usual run of the mill sitter, but I leave knowing my dogs and cats are in perfectly capable hands.
These sites are full of pet sitters and dog walkers who will be willing to take care of your pets. Many of these websites now require background checks and sitters can upload any credentials or certifications that may be helpful to have. Many pet sitting services also require meet and greets before hand or you can schedule one yourself. You can use my interview guide when speaking with candidate from these sites.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for a background check or references
That way you can be sure you’re protecting yourself, your home, and your pets. It may even be a good idea to find someone who is certified in pet CPR and first aid. If you want to be extra cautious search for professional pet sitters. They usually have insurance and will require that you sign a contract when you’re booking their services.
5. Do a meet and greet (or several) prior to your vacation
If you hired a stranger to watch your pets during your vacation, do a meet and greet before you leave. That way your pets are familiar with a new face and you can see how your pets and your sitter interact. This is also a good idea if you have a reactive, fearful, or anxious pet.
6. Don’t be afraid to shell out extra cash
Boarding your dog can be expensive. Finding a pet sitter can be a cheaper option. But if you are looking to hire someone to watch your pet all week don’t be afraid to shell out extra cash in return for quality care in the comfort of your own home. Professional pet sitters and veterinary technicians will cost you more, but I promise they’re worth their weight in gold.
7. Leave a detailed set of instructions and a checklist for your sitter
Watching someone else’s pets can be overwhelming. It can be even more overwhelming to try to remember the owner’s instructions after a quick walk through of responsibilities before the family leaves. You want to be sure your sitter knows just what they’re doing and what’s expected of them. For this reason make your sitter’s life easier and leave a detailed set of instructions for them to follow.
Include any directions concerning feeding, medicating, walking, or taking care of your pet’s bathroom needs. Let your sitter know where all the supplies are or leave them somewhere they’re easily accessible.
You also want to provide instructions in case of an emergency. Outline the steps you want them to take. Should they call you or the vet? Are they permitted to use your own card to pay for vet care? What would you want them to do in the worst case scenario? Does the vet have your permission for them to bring in your dog or cat for euthanasia?
If they’re any helpful tips or important things to know include those in your instructions. In addition, leave any important contact information, names, and numbers on your list. Good numbers to include are your own, your vets, or another close family or friend who can help in case of an emergency.
If you’re looking to download my pet sitter interview guide you can do that below!