While more and more pet-owners are taking their pets along on vacation and boarding facilities are becoming more popular options, many pet owners prefer to leave pets in the comfort of their own home under the trusted eye of a caring professional pet sitter. Working as a pet professional has given me new insight into the many ways owners can make these experiences as comfortable as possible for their pets and their pet sitters.
The most important element in creating a positive experience for owners and their pets is to find a trusted pet professional. Once you’ve located possible candidates, ask about their experience and background and feel free to ask for references – professional pet sitters will be happy to provide that information to you. Once you’re comfortable, invite them to meet you and your four legged (or other animal) friends. This not only gives you a chance to meet them in person, but it gives your pet a chance to become familiar with them. If your pet is particularly nervous or hesitant around new people, consider asking your pet professional to come for some pre-trip “comfort” visits – short visits to walk or play with your pet and help establish a comfortable relationship between them. Go over any special needs your pet may have, show your pet-sitter around your home and your pet’s space, and make sure they feel comfortable with your pet sitting request.
Provide your pet professional with a Pet Profile. First and foremost, it should include all owner contact information; additional emergency contacts; veterinarian’s information and a travel itinerary for each trip. The rest of the Pet Profile should include an overview of your pet’s daily routine; feeding and exercise habits; any medications and dosage information; and any special quirks or behaviors to be aware of. If, for example, your dog g, that’s something your dog-walker should be aware of before she finds herself being dragged down the street after a big brown truck. Or, if your cat is terrified of the vacuum cleaner and might go into a catatonic state if you try to vacuum up spilled kitty litter, that’s also something good to know. The more you help familiarize your pet-sitter with your pet’s personality and habits, the better the experience will be.
One of the most important things owners can do to help protect their pets in the event of an emergency is to generate a “Permission to Treat” form. This form authorizes the pet-sitter to seek medical attention for your animal in case of emergency – and usually includes a statement that owners will reimburse any costs. It can be as detailed or simplistic as you see fit – but it must empower your pet professional to seek veterinary attention in the case of an emergency. For that reason, it is critical to discuss your wishes with your pet professional before you leave. While we always do our best to contact the owners to make them aware of the situation, an emergency health crisis means that valuable time could be lost trying to reach owners to request their permission. Keep a signed copy of this form for yourself, give one to your pet-sitter, and one to your vet. Examples of a simple pet-sitting Permission to Treat form can be found here
Taking the time to do some vacation planning for your pet will help ensure a positive experience for everyone involved – and help give you the peace of mind to enjoy your trip!