Pet Sitters: While You're Away, the Pets Should PlayPublished December 15, 2008
When vacation time rolls around, in addition to making reservations, packing, and putting your diet on hiatus, there is one very important thing that should be at the top of your to-do list: you have to make arrangements for your pets. Read on for tips on picking a pet sitter, what to leave for them and proper etiquette for taking care of your pet.You feed, exercise, care for and love your pet daily. It is your duty, as a pet owner, to take the best possible care of your animal, and your animal loves you for it, so when you have to travel, it is also your duty to find the best substitute possible.
Yes, when vacation time rolls around, in addition to making reservations, packing, and putting your diet on hiatus so that you can escape the daily grind for some well-deserved rest and relaxation, there is one very important thing that should be at the top of your to-do list in preparation for the trip: you have to make arrangements for your pets.
Different pets have different needs, and different animals will notice your absence to different degrees. Certainly fish and smaller pets will be pretty satisfied if their space is kept clean and the food is plentiful. Many people opt to ask friends and family to undertake the responsibility in their absence. Some family and friends happily agree, while some may resent the imposition. In that case, a professional pet sitter is a good alternative. For larger pets, like cats, dogs and birds, a highly trusted caregiver is required, and often a professional pet sitter is the best, or only alternative.
If you choose a pet sitter rather than boarding your pet, you will eliminate transportation stress for your pet, and possible trauma from the change in environment (especially difficult for older or anxious pets), as well as reducing unnecessary exposure to contagious diseases. A sitter can maintain the normal routine, or an approximation of it, while your pet is kept in familiar surroundings. The advantages of a pet sitter extend beyond your pet. Having an overnight sitter or daily sitter maintains regular activity around your home, consistent with when you are there, which increases the security of your property as well.
Keep in mind, therefore, when selecting a pet sitter, that you are putting your pets and your home in their care. It is for this reason that you must feel confident about whom you choose. A personal referral is an ideal place to start, but asking your veterinarian is another way to find a candidate.
There are dozens of organizations accessible on-line that function as pet sitter directories, helping you locate a single local sitter, or several options. Some sites are affiliated with professional organizations, such as Pet Sitters International (PSI) and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS). Some sitters are bonded and insured. In the end, it comes down to whom you can trust.
Regardless of how or where you find a pet sitter, any candidate should meet some basic criteria. Arrange to interview or meet a potential pet sitter ahead of time to observe them with your pet, and give them a good once-over. If you feel comfortable after that initial introduction, you should explore their background and experience with your type of pet. They should volunteer a list of referrals for you to contact prior to employing them.
To help a pet sitter take the best possible care of your pet, communication is key. Be very clear what your expectations are, what, if any, specific needs your pet has, and provide contact information for your vet, as well as where you can be reached, and the number of a local family member or friend. Keep all pet supplies such as food and medication, out and easily accessible.
Clarify whether they are permitted access to your pantry and refrigerator, and identify if there are parts of your home that are off limits to them. Discuss ahead of time whether their fees cover their food and transportation while you're away so that you don't have any surprises in the bill or in the cabinets after your trip.
As a consideration to the sitter, who is a guest in your home, tidy up before you go, cleaning all your dishes, removing laundry from the machines, and disposing of food that might expire during your absence. When you return, you should expect to find your home in the same condition you left it, and the same goes for your pet.
A final touch, that may solidify your decision to use the same sitter in the future, is if they call the day you are expected to return, to confirm that your pet has been reunited with you. This will show that they would not want your pet to be alone, should your return be delayed for any reason, and that they take responsibility for your pet very seriously. That is, after all, what you're paying them for.