Considerations for Hiring a Pet Sitter

There are a few benefits of hiring a pet sitter over sending your pet to a kennel or cattery, though it’s important to consider your cat’s or dog’s personality and temperament when making the decision of whether to go with a kennel or pet sitter.

Pet sitters are ideal for pets who are shy, frightened of strangers, upset by change and animals who require a bit more one-on-one attention, whereas kennels are more ideal for pets who are outgoing, good with strangers and handle change well.

Also, consider whether your pet has stopped eating due to stress in the past. These pets are apt to do best with a pet sitter instead of a kennel.

When hiring a pet sitter, it’s important that your sitter gets to know your animals before you leave. Ask the pet sitter to make a few one-hour visits while you’re home. You can observe the pet sitter’s mannerisms and interactions with the pet; this will also give the sitter an opportunity to get to know the animal and vice versa. In addition, the pet sitter will know the pet’s baseline in terms of behavior and temperament; this will enable the sitter to more effectively identify a problem such as illness while the animal is in his or her care.

Pet sitters can provide very basic care — feeding, dog walking, grooming and cleaning litter boxes. Or they may be hired to spend some time with your pet each day. Many pet sitters also double as house-sitters. Consider your pet’s need, your budget and find a sitter who is able to provide the level of service that you require.

Some of the best pet sitters have a background in pet care. Our pet sitter is a vet tech at our veterinary clinic; this is ideal, since she is in a position to identify health problems and illness and she is more apt to seek out medical care if our pets get sick while we’re out of the home. This also makes our vet visits less stressful, since our animals can interact with a vet tech whom they know and trust.

The reality is this: your animals are more likely to get sick while you’re away. Some may experience vomiting, diarrhea, or they may refuse to eat due to stress. Stress taxes the animal’s immune system, leaving them more susceptible to illness, so it’s important that your pet sitter is effective in limiting stress, identifying illness and your sitter must be willing and able to get treatment for your pet if she gets sick while you’re away.

Also, when hiring a pet sitter, contact your veterinary clinic to alert them to the fact that someone else will be caring for your animal. You may need to sign a waiver or consent form that allows the pet sitter to make decisions on your behalf. Most vet clinics will allow a pet sitter to put the bill “on tab” so the owner can pay for the bill when he or she returns from their trip, but it’s important to know your clinic’s policy concerning payment. Generally, a clinic is more willing to put your charges “on tab” if you’re a long-time client.

If the clinic will not allow your pet sitter to put the bill on-tab, you will need to find a sitter who can pay for the animal’s treatment up-front (to be reimbursed when you return) or you may need to leave a credit card or emergency funds for the sitter. Another option: pre-pay a few hundred dollars to your vet clinic before you leave, so there is a credit on your account. Alternatively, some clinics will allow you to put a credit card on file; this can be used to pay for your pet’s treatment in the event that he needs to visit the clinic while in the pet sitter’s care.

For more pet care tips, visit the PetLvr archives.

Photo Source: John Evans at

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Mia Carter is a professional journalist and animal lover. Her furry family members include 6 dogs and 12 cats. She is also a feral cat colony caretaker. Carter specializes in pet training and special needs pet care. All of her animals have special needs such as paralysis, blindness, deafness and FIV, just to name a few. She also serves as a pet foster parent and she actively rehabilitates and rescues local strays and feral kittens.

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