Leaving your pets in the hands of someone else can be stressful even if you’re going on holidays. If you’ve only met that person once, such as during an initial meet and greet, it’s natural to be anxious. Hiring a pet sitter to care for your pets is an increasingly common way of providing care when you go away. There are many benefits to having your pets cared for in your own home, including reduced stress and a reduced risk of infectious diseases such as kennel cough.
Follow our tips for choosing a pet sitter to make the process stress-free.
Booking a pet sitter can now be done using apps and websites, with pet sitting now part of the ‘gig economy’. People can advertise their pet care services on these sites and apps, and pet owners can look for available carers in their area and read reviews.
Checking references or reviews are important, particularly if it’s your first time hiring this pet sitter. If you are hiring a pet sitter privately, through online classifieds and adverts, ask for a couple of references from previous clients. You want to check they’ve previously cared for pets to a high standard and are reliable and trustworthy.
Look for animal care experience
Although there are no minimum standards or qualifications for pet sitters, you ideally want someone with extensive animal care experience or recognised qualifications such as a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing.
This is because your pet sitter needs to be able to detect any signs of illness in your pet while you’re away and administer first aid if needed. If you have an experienced animal carer or veterinary nurse caring for your pets, you can feel more comfortable that they will detect any changes and implement appropriate care.
Many veterinary nurses offer pet sitting services as well as working at veterinary clinics, so ask your local veterinarian if they can recommend anyone.
Meet them beforehand
Always meet your pet sitter before handing over the keys to your place. Ideally, have them come to your house so you can explain your usual pet routine and to allow your pets to meet them. Provide a detailed note containing all relevant pet care instructions, the details of your usual and emergency veterinarian, and your contact details while away.
Notify your veterinarian
If you are going away for a long period of time, consider notifying your regular veterinary clinic so they are aware someone else will be caring for your pets while you’re away. This will be useful if your pet goes missing while you are away, or if your pet gets sick and requires veterinary attention.
Consider a backup
It’s always worth considering having a backup person arranged, just in case your main pet sitter falls ill or is unable to care for your pets. Having a friend or family member drop in on the pets every few days (as well as the regular pet sitter) can give you added peace of mind and provide extra stimulation for your pets when you’re away.