Going on vacation or traveling for business when you have pets can cause some stress and worry. Assuming you aren’t taking your furry friend along with you, you will need to arrange for someone to care for them.
How can you be sure that your pet care choice will be the right one for your cat or dog?
There are several options available, and it makes sense to consider your pet’s individual needs in order to find a pet sitter who will be right for your cat or dog. Here is some helpful information to pick out the best pet care situation for your upcoming trip.
Consider Your Pet’s Unique Needs
You know your pet better than anyone, and you know what they need on a daily basis.
- Is your pet shy and timid?
- Do they require special medication?
- Do they tend to be aggressive or reactive in certain situations?
- Are they scared or upset when they are left home alone?
- Do they play well with others?
Asking yourself these questions can help you determine whether a boarding facility, a pet sitter in your home, or a pet sitter in their own home is the best option.
Cats are usually more comfortable in their own homes when that’s a feasible choice. Having someone stop in once per day to refresh food and water, clean out the litter box, and give some treats and snuggles is often the best option. If your cat needs medication once or twice per day, that can usually be accommodated by someone stopping in. If your feline family member is old or has health problems, however, you might require more frequent supervision, in which case a pet sitter who stays at your house will be a better option. Going to the sitter’s house is also a possibility, but note that it will likely cause moderate stress in most cats.
Dogs can be more flexible in many cases. A dog that loves playing with other dogs might enjoy a boarding facility where the pups are allowed to play together under supervision. One that suffers from separation anxiety might do better staying at someone’s house or having a sitter stay at your house most of the time. One that is reactive toward other dogs would not do well in a facility or a home where there are other dogs present. Think about your dog’s personality and how they would react to being in a strange place or to having a stranger in your home caring for them.
Consider Your Travel Plans
If you are going to be away for a weekend, having a pet sitter stop in to feed your pets and give your dog a bathroom break 2 or 3 times per day is probably sufficient for most animals. A 2-week trip, however, would make that less feasible, particularly for dogs, as they need more social interaction. You might consider having a dog sitter stop in a few times per day for some of the days while your dog spends other days at a dog daycare facility so they can play with other dogs and have more supervision and social interaction those days.
Characteristics to Look For
Once you decide what type of care you are looking for, it’s time to think about the characteristics you need in a pet sitter. Here are some to consider in order to find a pet sitter:
- Experience. If your pet needs medication, is reactive to other dogs, or is fearful of loud noises, for example, you should find someone who has experience dealing with those types of issues. If your pet is on insulin or another injectable medication, be sure to find a pet sitter who knows how to administer it. If your pet has a health problem, find out whether the pet sitter knows how to recognize warning signs that the animal needs to go to the veterinarian.
- Patience. If you have a cat that is reluctant to come out from under the bed or if your dog occasionally refuses to go to the bathroom on their first walk of the morning, you will need to find a pet sitter who will have the flexibility and patience to accommodate that, within reason. If your sitter has a very limited amount of time that he or she can spend at your home, it’s possible that your cat might not get their medication or that your dog will end up having an accident in the house. Find out what the sitter’s schedule is like and how he or she would handle those types of situations.
- Reliability. Of course, you need to find a pet sitter who is reliable and dependable. You would have a lot of stress if you are 1,000 miles away and your pet sitter doesn’t show up to feed your pet! This is where getting recommendations from others will be important. It is also a good idea to have a backup plan in place just in case the sitter has car trouble or a family emergency and is not able to make it to your home.
To find a pet sitter, try asking on your local social media page or checking out a site such as Rover.com. You can also ask at your veterinarian’s office for a referral or ask people you know who have pets. For a backup option, ask a friend or a neighbor if they would be willing to be on call in case something happens with your chosen sitter. Picking out a pet sitter can be a daunting task, but once you have someone trustworthy to depend on who loves your pet, you will be able to travel with peace of mind that your cat or dog is in great hands.