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With some people planning holiday travel, pet parents may be thinking about hiring a pet sitter to watch their pets while they are away. A pet sitter, whether hired through an app like Rover or through word-of-mouth, can be more comfortable and less stressful for your pet than boarding or a kennel outside the home.
Lay out expectations
Once you’ve found a pet sitter you trust for your furry loved ones, be sure to discuss your expectations with them in detail. Include things such as how often you expect them to communicate with you – daily with a text or phone call or only if something goes wrong? Make sure you know if the pet sitter will be staying overnight at your house or making several visits each day. Work out a full schedule in advance that both parties will agree to.
Familiarize your pet sitter with your pet(s) and home
Provide them with everything they may need to know, including your itinerary and contact info, feeding and walking instructions, pet and house rules, any home security system information, pet medical information, and what to do in case of a home emergency. Include bullet points of the pet’s medical history, current medications (doses, where to refill, the primary veterinarian who dispensed), allergies (food, environmental, seasonal), medical sensitivities, and any relevant information about their behavior (dog-reactive, resource-guarding, etc). Here’s a free checklist you can download and use.
Have a backup plan
And no matter how trustworthy your pet sitter, always have a backup plan just in case. Leave a well-hidden key at your home or with a trusted friend, neighbor, or relative in case your sitter loses theirs doesn’t show up as planned or has an emergency that leaves them unable to care for your pets.
These preparations will be adequate if everything goes well while you are away. But there are a few more precautions you should take in case your pet becomes ill or has an accident while you are gone.
Julie Corbett, a Portland, Oregon-based emergency vet, has seen plenty of times where pet parents didn’t provide enough information to their pet sitters, and the delay in care or confusion this has caused. This is especially crucial when pet parents are traveling internationally and communication may be more difficult due to time zones or cell phone plan limitations, she said.
“I see way too many situations where owners have failed to plan for when they cannot be contacted while traveling, which puts both the doctors and pet sitters in the terrible situation of having to make decisions for your pet which may or may not be in alignment with your wishes. We want the best for your pet, but we also want to know what you would want to do, so please help out your local veterinarians and emergency veterinarians and leave appropriate documentation for your pets and we hope we never have to use it!,” she said.
If you do register with Rover, Wag or other professional pet sitting services, some of this information will be collected when you register, and it will be shared with your pet sitter.
Here is her advice:
1. Make sure your pet sitter knows where you want your pets seen in an emergency, including where to go if your primary vet is closed. Even better, pre-call your vet / local emergency clinic(s) and have them preemptively create a file for your pet with your info in it.
2. Make sure you leave a document with your pet sitter which states that they are able to make medical decisions for your pet if you cannot be contacted. If you don’t want them to make medical decisions, leave contact information for someone else you trust.
3. List advanced directives for your pet – do you want CPR? Do you authorize open-chest CPR? Do you prefer Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) for your pet? Don’t make your pet sitter make those difficult decisions for you if there is an emergency.
4. List your credit card number and what initial level of care you authorize if you cannot be reached. If you don’t feel comfortable giving your sitter your credit card number, call your primary veterinarian and your local emergency animal hospital and have them put it in your pet’s file along with your advanced directives and who is able to make medical decisions.
Your pet sitter will likely not need this information, but making sure you are covered will give you and the sitter peace of mind and make sure the right decisions are made for your pet should something happen.
If you want only the best care in case of an injury or illness, consider protecting your furry ones with pet insurance to help cover the costs of the unexpected. Start by getting a free quote.