Leaving your dog with a pet sitter has become more and more popular among American households. In fact, over the past decade, the sales of pet care services have doubled, reaching 5.8 billion in 2017.
If you've never used a pet sitter before, you might think it's as simple as going online and booking one. What else is there to do?
While pet sitters are a godsend, there is a lot of preparation you'll need to do before your trip to ensure your dog gets the best possible care.
The last thing you want is to leave on your trip only to find out something disastrous has happened like your pet sitter lost the only house key or you forgot to refill your pet's medication.
Check out this comprehensive list of preparations for pet sitting tips and you'll be able to sleep well knowing you've thought of everything.
Find a Pet Sitter You Trust
The most important step in the process of leaving a dog with a pet sitter is finding a pet sitter you trust. The best pet sitters are close friends and family, veterinarians, and others who have experience with animals.
If you can't ask someone you know, you might consider hiring a professional pet sitter. You should hold interviews and ask for references. It can also help to have potential sitters meet your dog to see if it's a good fit.
When you find a pet sitter you trust, be clear about your needs and expectations. Establish upfront whether you're wanting a pet sitter to come to your home and check on your dog or one that will stay in your home.
You'll want to work out the pet sitter's schedule in advance of your trip.
Notify Your Veterinarian
Before you head out of town, call or send an email to your veterinary clinic to let them know. If anything goes wrong while you're away, the vet will have advance warning that someone other than you is caring for your dog.
Your vet may need you to leave a credit card on file and get your approval to perform emergency procedures should they be required for your dog.
There is always the chance that your dog could need an emergency procedure and the vet is unable to reach you. Calling your vet in advance will streamline this process and ensure your pet gets the care they need.
In preparation for your time away, make sure to leave the necessary supplies the sitter will require in order to best care for your dog. Here is a list of the essentials.
In addition to a spare key (or two), leave your pet sitter with thorough instructions when it comes to your home. You'll want to leave alarm codes, the location of the circuit breaker, and explain how to find the water shut-off valve.
If you rent your home, inform your landlord that you'll have a pet sitter staying over or visiting daily.
Make a list of contact information and post it in two locations in your home. You should include your personal contact information, your itinerary, as well as the address and phone number where you'll be staying.
Other important contacts to add to the list include your veterinarian, your landlord, and any other human you know and trust who can help in the event of an emergency.
Leave twice as much food as you think your dog will need. Accidents happen, things get spilled and wasted. You don't want to put the pet sitter in the position of having to purchase more food.
It's also a good idea to store the food in airtight containers that are labeled. This is especially helpful if you have multiple pets on different diets. Leave instructions for the pet sitter for when and how much to feed your pet(s).
If your dog usually gets treats, it's a good idea to leave a healthy supply with the pet sitter. This will give them a method of bonding with your pet. Treats can also help to comfort your pet in your absence.
If your dog is using a medication, make sure you leave a supply for the pet sitter. The best method is to leave it in the original containers with the instructions attached.
Leave your own instructions for administering the medication as well. If it is difficult to get your pet to take the medication, let the pet sitter know of any tricks that work.
Make a Sitter Checklist
To give you peace of mind and make your pet sitter's job easier, create a daily checklist for your sitter to follow. That way they can be sure they are providing the best possible care for your dog.
Create a checklist that includes feeding times, walking times, and when to take the dog outside to use the restroom. It's also a great idea to leave space for the sitter to make notes about your dog's activities.
Leave very detailed notes for your pet sitter. The more information they have, the better equipped they will be.
Prepare Your Dog
If you don't already use them, have ID tags made for your dog, and make sure to attach them to the dog's collar. This is helpful for your pet sitter (especially if you have multiple dogs). It is also helpful in the event your dog escapes.
The best collars to use are breakaway collars that can come off if your dog gets stuck on something. It's also a good idea to ask your pet sitter to take the collar off when the dog is left alone.
Organize essentials like leashes, collars, poop bags, extra food, bowls, and a first aid kit in an obvious location that is out of the reach of your dog. Make sure to leave your dog's crate or carrier somewhere easy to find.
One thing you can do to help comfort your dog while you're away is to leave a piece of clothing you've worn recently on their bed. If you think they'll chew it, you can tuck the clothing inside the zippered bed cover.
Make sure you go through your home and remove anything that could potentially harm your dog if they start to get stressed while you're gone. If your dog experiences separation anxiety, try these calming techniques.
Take a deep breath, give your pet a big hug, and tell yourself it's going to be alright. Leaving your dog behind is excruciating. Knowing your dog is in the loving care of a pet sitter will give you the peace of mind you need.
Another way to get peace of mind about your dog's wellbeing is to know they're getting the best nutrition available. That's why NOW FRESH only uses fresh ingredients like meat and nutrient-rich superfoods in their pet food.
Use this store locator to find out where you can get Now Fresh near you or order online.