How to choose a pet sitter

One of the biggest dilemmas pet owners have is who to entrust the care of their pets to when they are away from home. 

It has to be an individual decision and there isn’t a ‘one way fits all’ for this subject. The length you are away for, what species you have, and what their specific needs are all play into the decisions.

House sitting and daily visits

For very brief periods, many cats and small animals would be ok staying at home. A trusted, conscientious person who knows and likes them is ideal. You will require someone who can pop in at least twice-daily to ensure they are ok, give any company your pet might need, and the ability to provide essential food, water, as well as the other resources they require to be happy and content during your short absence.

If you have a dog, are going to be away longer, or maybe you have a pet that needs monitoring and extra support, then a house sitter is an option. For many pets, staying in their familiar location is much better than being looked after away from home. Cats are attached to their territory/familiar environment and find being taken to new environments like a cattery stressful. Small pets are more prone to stress when their enclosure and/or location changes, therefore in most cases a house sitter is the best pet-friendly option. There is no regulation of this activity, so you need to do your research and where possible choose someone you already know and trust.

Pet boarding

Traditional boarding kennels and catteries are an option for some pets. As with home boarding and pet sitters, its worth trying a short stay so your pet can get used to the environment. The staff will also be able to give you feedback on how they behaved, if they ate, and other factors, during their stay.

There are specialist boarding facilities for all small pet species. Look for places that have appropriate vaccination, care, and cleaning protocols.  Ensure the housing including any enclosures are suitable sized and are appropriate for the time of year with regards to heatwaves and snow. To avoid any stress or fighting, the housing must keep them separate from other pets. Always pop along and visit before you book. You may not get to see the animals being boarded, but you should ask to see any vacant housing.

If you have a dog who dog is sociable and used to visiting different locations, a pet sitter caring for your pet in their home is an option.  Always consider if your dog likes the person, is going to be ok with their family, will get on with any other pets, and the pet sitter’s daily routines are suitable for them. It’s good to arrange a trial sleepover in advance of their essential stay. Pet sitting is also known as ‘home boarding’. Many home boarders are properly licenced regulated professionals. In some ways, it’s similar to boarding kennels, except your dog stays in a more domestic environment, and the numbers of pets each business can accommodate is generally much lower.

Though professional boarding establishments are regulated and the premises are inspected, it is still important to do your homework and ensure that you are comfortable with the individual caring for your precious pet.

Be prepared

Whomever you entrust the care of your pets to, it’s important to give them instructions and information to help them give your pets the care you want them to receive. We recommend providing the following:

  • Veterinary contact info. Also, be sure to tell your vet who is caring for your pet in your absence.
  • If your pet is a dog, ensure the contact info of the person caring for them is added to their tag.
  • Feeding instructions – include what, when, and how your pet should be fed.
  • Include a description of their normal daily routines.
  • Housing needs for small pets and cats.
  • For cats, include litter tray instructions, and where best to place it.
  • Medication, including doses and times if required.
  • How to help them if they appear worried or frightened.
  • Likes and dislikes.
  • Exercise needs.

Looking for more advice?

If you have any questions or need support with your pet, we’re here to help. Please contact us for free advice.

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