Whether you leave home for business, pleasure, or an emergency, you want to leave your pet(s) in caring hands while you’re away. Many of us opt to employ professional pet sitters so we can be away from home without worry. Pet sitters provide our pets with the stability and comfort that come with being able to stay in their own homes while we’re away. In honor of National Professional Pet Sitters Week, we’re sharing tips on how to find and work with the best sitter for your pet(s).
To find the professional sitter that’s a perfect fit for you, your pet(s), and your lifestyle, do extensive research. Look into a variety of individuals and companies in your area. Resist the urge to pick the first one, even if they sound like a great fit. Although they may end up being perfect, it’s best to learn about all your options.
Read about their mission and their practices. A passion for pets is a major plus, but you also want someone who knows how to care for pets. Ask about previous experience, especially if your pets have special needs. Read reviews and testimonials by other clients. While you shouldn’t base your decision solely on these, they can help give you insight. Also seek recommendations from friends and family who have pets.
Services and Pricing
When searching for a professional pet sitter, with whom you’ll entrust the well-being of your pet, ensure they provide the specific services you require, and find out how much you can expect to pay for them. Not all sitters provide the same services, nor do all sitters have the same pricing structure.
Some pet sitters only provide drop-in visits and won’t stay overnight. Some only care for pets in their home. Many will not administer medication. Some professional sitters offer extended services such as poop scooping, picking up mail, watering plants, and even taking garbage cans to the curb.
Keep in mind that while you may not need certain services currently, you may need them later down the line. If this is the case, it may be a good idea to establish a relationship with a sitter who provides a variety of pet care services.
Prices for pet sitters can vary greatly depending on how many pets you have and which services you need and for how long. Some pet sitters have packages that bundle several services for one price while others charge a base fee per visit and tack on an additional fee for each a la carte service. Some sitters charge for up to a certain amount of pets, while others charge for each pet. When researching prices for services, don’t assume anything is included unless it’s stated as such. Consider all required services for each pet and ask about them all.
Emergencies happen, and most professional pet sitters expect them and can accommodate. However, when possible you should book your pet sitter well in advance of your absence. When booking with a popular sitter or around a holiday, expect slots to fill up fast. Some sitters and agencies have policies in place that require advanced booking with the exception of emergencies.
Communication and Paperwork
When you’ve found a sitter you feel matches your needs, you’ll likely set up a meeting. This is where you’ll go over instructions, sign a pet care services agreement, exchange information, and introduce your sitter to your home and your pets, and go through care specifics.
Some pet sitters and agencies ask clients to sign agreements prior to the initial meeting while others wait until the meeting to handle the paperwork. No matter when you sign, read the contract carefully. If you have a question or concern, bring it up and make sure you understand before signing. Contracts detail what’s expected of you as pet parents and what you should expect from your sitter. It’s important you’re familiar with all of it.
Before you leave your sitter in charge, have all information written and placed where they’ll find it. This includes your veterinarian’s contact information, emergency contacts, any medications your pet needs and how to administer them, feeding instructions, pertinent daily routine information, microchip information, and how your sitter can reach you. Even if this information is included in a pre-signed agreement, it’s a good idea to have it all written down and left in a conspicuous spot.
Before listing numbers of trusted friends, family, or neighbors, discuss your plans with them and get their consent to serve as your emergency contact(s).
The best professional pet sitters care for and love our pets as they would their own pets. Begin by evaluating your current (and possible future) needs. Seek reviews from others, research sitters and agencies, and ask many questions. Once you find your professional pet sitter, you’ll rest and travel easy knowing your beloved pet is in great hands.