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How To Choose A Pet Sitter

Posted 2020-11-12

This September, it’s Pet Sitter Education Month, so we thought we’d share our knowledge and tips on how to choose the very best babysitter for your loved ones. Whether going on a vacation, visiting a sick relative, or going away for work, sometimes, our sweet furkiddos are not able to come along. It’s in those cases where we find ourselves worrying about who will take care of your pet, and regardless of if it’s for a day or a month, the decision is an important one. This can be incredibly challenging and worrisome since our pets can’t communicate about how their stay was, so asking the right questions and doing your research are great first steps.

To make life a little bit easier for you, we’ve comprised a list of the various options, with their pros and cons, and tips of what to look for.

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Someone You Know

The best-case scenario is always finding someone you and your pet know. You’ll already know that your pet likes them, feels comfortable around them, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your friend, family, or neighbor is a responsible person. If your friend hasn’t met your pet, we suggest bringing them over for a “meeting” to see how the two of them interact, to see if they get along well.

Depending on your pet, having someone you know house-sit as well would allow for your pet to feel more comfortable since they’ll still be in their space. If your pet is older, this can be especially beneficial since having to get used to a new place, climbing stairs, or not having access to a backyard might cause them anxiety or an accident.

Having a cheat sheet can be very useful. When you hand over the leash, you can quickly go over any medications, routines, food requirements, and any other special instructions that you think they’ll need to know. If they don’t have a pet, don’t assume that they know how to care for one. Giving them the number to your veterinarian in case of emergency may also come in handy.

Another perk, it’s free! Although a little thank you gift like homemade cookies or a small token of your appreciation is always welcome.

In-Home Pet Sitting

Did you know there are professional pet sitters? If none of your friends or family are available, this is your next best choice. The great thing about professional pet sitters is their knowledge of pets (i.e first aid training) and their dependability. Something may come up in your friend’s life, and they may need to cancel. With a professional service, you will know that you’ll have peace of mind knowing they’ll show up.

There are many variations of pet sitters. Some that can come to stay in your home, or some that can stop by a few times a day to walk, feed, water, let out or change the litter box. Prices vary, but you should expect to pay anywhere from $25-75/day for this service.

1. When choosing a professional pet-sitter, you should do your research and ask them these questions.
2. Do you belong to a professional organization like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Professional United Pet Sitters?
3. Do you have a business license?
4. Do you know pet first aid?
5. Will they come to meet the pet before hiring them?
6. Do they have any references?
7. What is their cancellation policy?

All of these questions will help give you an idea of their qualifications and will give you more peace of mind while you are away.

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Boarding Kennel

When and if you have to go to a boarding kennel, there are many things to consider. First of all, if your dog is anxious, old, doesn’t get along with other dogs or humans, then a boarding kennel is probably not the best option, and can cause mental anguish on your pet. You’re also potentially exposing your pet to the other pet’s illnesses. Some kennels only take the dogs for walks for an additional fee and don’t let them outside at all. Some will even administer medication if your dog is misbehaving or won’t settle down. Asking the right questions when deciding on a kennel, visiting it, and asking to see where they’ll be sleeping is a great way to gauge what the kennel is like.

Some things to consider or ask when visiting the kennel:

  • Is the kennel clean?
  • Are there windows and access to the outdoors?
  • Is the temperature comfortable?
  • Is the staff caring and well-trained?
  • Are the other pets that are boarded there required to have all their vaccinations?
  • Will your pet have their own space to sleep and be outdoors?
  • Will they have a chance to get exercise?
  • Is the bedding comfortable?
  • Do they have any references or customer reviews?

Pro Tip: Ask around. Your veterinarian, friends and family, or frequenters at your dog park might be able to recommend a reputable one. When making the decision, trust your gut. If you don’t feel good leaving your loved one there for an extended period of time, then make other arrangements.

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Luxury Pet Hotels

Although it can be considered a boarding kennel, these luxury pet hotels deserve their own section. From Loft Suites featuring gel comfort beds to Luxury Suites with full-size beds with duvet, pillows, a flat-screen TV, windows, private lounge areas, and a 24-7  webcam, there are options for many budgets. Some of these hotels/resorts even offer spas with bubble baths, blow-drys, and daily brushing. Some of these resorts range from $39-$110/night.

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Supplements That Can Help

If your pet suffers from anxiety and separation anxiety, or if you’re unsure of how they’ll react to you leaving them, there are a few supplements that can be started a few weeks prior to you leaving and continued while you’re away to help with this. Matricalm is one of our supplements that should be taken for relaxing nervousness and aggressive behavior. Lesstress, on the other hand, helps reduce hyperactivity, calms agitation, helps reduce anxiety caused by separation, improves their disposition, and reduces destructive behavior. Matricalm is great for both cats or dogs, while we find Lesstress is more beneficial for dogs over cats. Both of these supplements are a great way to help get ahead of issues that may occur while you’re away.

When it comes to any of these options, it’s important to do your due diligence. Check reviews thoroughly, ask your pet community, family, and friends for their recommendations, and check out the place if possible.

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