We have four dogs, a guinea pig, and a fish until recently (RIP Atreyu, may your story never-end). Jodi has two dogs, a bird, hamster, and chickens. Oh yeah and bees. When we are traveling, someone has to take care of the animals for us. Obviously the bees will take care of themselves, but the rest of our broods could turn into an Animal Farmesque situation without some human supervision.
Over the years, I’ve relied on family, friends, co-workers, and paid pet sitters to watch our pack. I’ve never used a kennel, but have friends who swear by them. Kennels can be ideal if you have a smaller number of pets who need care and who are comfortable outside your home. All our dogs are rescue, varied ages, and some have serious medical needs. Basically, they are high maintenance and in home care is best. Making certain they have good care is crucial to enjoying a trip away from home. The last thing I want to be worried about while flying to London is if my pets are OK.
Here are some questions I ask and things I consider before asking someone to pet sit:
- What am I capable of and willing to pay? It’s best to get this question out of the way in the beginning. Sometimes a pet sitter will have an established fee and other times, you need to negotiate one. I recommend a daily price point that includes a set of expectations the sitter will meet each day.
- Will the sitter stay in my home or only visit during the day? I always prefer and will pay extra for round the clock in home care. I don’t mind if the sitter has a day or night job, just so they come home and spend time with my pets during their off hours. I don’t even care if they bring their families to stay at my house with them. Jodi’s chickens might not notice if anyone is around all day long to pet them, but I know for a fact and from personal experience that her Beagle wants to sleep with someone at night.
- Is the sitter able to understand and meet my pets medical and health needs? I have both older and infirm pets who need medication administered during their meals. It’s important that any sitter you choose will be able to take care of medication but also the health needs of your pet. Daily exercise in the forms of walks, outdoor or indoor play time, and lots of love are part of a pet’s health needs. Health needs can also include food preparation. One of our dog’s has heart disease, and we cook all the dogs food fresh once a week in a crock-pot with low sodium chicken, green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, corn, etc. to make sure he never gets anything in his mouth that will hurt his heart. Basically, knowing how to take care of a dog and a chicken aren’t necessarily the same skill set.
- Is the relationship with your pet sitter worth losing? Let’s face it. Sometimes people let us down. People who love us might say “yes” when they really mean, “Do I have to?” It’s not worth losing a friend or straining a family relationship if you can find a good sitter somewhere else.
A few final thoughts for choosing a professional pet sitter. If they have one, visit their website or social media page to get a feel for their services and personality. Ask for references and then CALL THEM. If your state has pet sitting licenses, ask to see theirs. Ask them to explain in detail their contingency plans for inclement weather, illness, or other unforeseeable events that might effect their ability to provide care. Finally, ask to see their contract before you sign or agree to anything.
Travel with peace of mind by finding the best possible pet sitter for your pack. As for your kids, just let them run wild while you are gone 😉