When You Leave Town, Give Your Pet Sitter a Break

Provide your pet sitter with all the information necessary to take the greatest care of your pets while you’re on vacation.

You’ve talked to the sitter about walks, but what about pet emergencies? By: Acid Pix

Summertime is just around the corner — and so is vacation madness.

Panicky phone calls from pet sitters abound during high vacation periods. I urge both the pet’s humans and sitters to anticipate emergency situations and establish plans of action ahead of time.

So this is a post chock-full of checklists for those of you intending to leave your precious pets with a sitter.

Quick Tips When Hiring a Pet Sitter

When you’re going away, it’s always nice to know that Scruffins or Mr. Fuzz-budget is being taken care of by the best.

So here’s a list for those of you currently looking for a great pet sitter to watch over your furry loved ones:

  • Arrange for a pet sitter early — like, several weeks in advance, if not earlier.
  • Don’t choose a young person as a pet sitter without having a reliable adult backup. Have a personal conversation with the parents of a young pet sitter to make sure they are aware of the responsibility their kid is taking on.
  • Require the pet sitter make a house visit or visits to become acclimated to your home and your pets. Check references, even if this is someone you know personally — a good friend or acquaintance does not necessarily make a qualified pet sitter.
  • If something develops with your pet’s health just before the trip, make sure the pet sitter feels comfortable with the new health problem and nursing care.
  • Outline a contingency plan with a friend or relative in case the pet sitter lets you down. Someone should be available to bring your pet to a veterinary or boarding facility if the pet sitter is unavailable or unable to deal with the pet.
Kids can watch your pets, but have an adult backup — just in case. By: Jen DeVere Warner

Compile a List and Gather Pet Records

Once you’ve chosen a pet sitter to take care of your pets while you’re away, you will discuss with them the usual things, like food schedule, walks, medical conditions, bathroom schedule, etc.

But before you get too caught up in your own packing and last-minute planning for your long-awaited vacay, take a moment to sit down and compile the following list:

  • Vet’s phone number. Make sure your pet sitter has transportation and knows how to get to that vet.
  • Emergency veterinary hospital number and location. Again, leave directions to the hospital for the pet sitter.
  • Neighbor’s phone numbers, if applicable.
  • Other emergency contacts, if applicable, like family members and friends who know the pet well.
  • Your complete itinerary, including flight numbers and the hotels where you’ll be staying.
  • All possible ways you can be reached, including cell phone numbers and hotel phone numbers.
  • A method of payment in case of a pet emergency. Your local vet may extend credit, but your pet may end up at another vet or emergency hospital. It’s best to have the pet sitter pay any bills, and then you can reimburse the sitter after.
  • Leave out all pet medications in their original prescription bottles or boxes where the pet sitter can find them — but keep them out of pets’ reach!
  • Leave pet medical records in a folder.
  • Make your wishes about your pet’s care as clear as possible to your vet and your sitter in case you cannot be reached. In fact, leave a detailed letter, if you feel that is appropriate.

Don’t forget to print this list out in BIG TYPE and place it where the pet sitter can easily find it.

Good planning can actually lessen your anxiety when leaving your furry friends behind during a well-deserved vacation.

So happy, happy travels. Look forward to wagging tails and lots of purrs when you get back!

Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD

View posts by Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD
Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, is a small animal and exotics veterinarian who has split her time between a veterinary practice in Pelham, Massachusetts, and her studio in New York City. Dr. Lichtenberg is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine with 30 years of experience. Her special interests are soft tissue surgery and oncology.

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