We all love to get away, but knowing how best to care for our pets in our absence is never easy. In many instances, hiring a pet sitter may be the answer.
This is a good way to know that your dog, cat, hamster or parakeet will be as comfortable as possible. Dogs and cats in particular benefit from being in familiar surroundings and following their normal schedules.
On the other hand, a good kennel can be the best way to insure your pets are safe and cared for. You alone have to make the determination.
What to Expect from the Pet Sitter
A good pet sitter will want to take care of your pet as well as you do. The more you can tell him or her about the job, the better.
Let the pet sitter know of any "rituals" you and your pet share: do you give him his favorite toy when you leave the house? Do you put his bedding is next to the radiator at night?
Be sure to instruct the pet sitter about special care considerations: should the cat's feet be wiped dry on rainy days? Does the dog get a vitamin pill every morning? Does the hamster like carrots and apple cores?
While the pet sitter cannot be expected to react to every quirk your pets have or to interact with the pets in the same way you do, he or she should be sensitive to the pets' needs. On the other hand, if the sitter loves animals and has good instincts, your pets will be fine -- even if they don't get their favorite toy in their bed at night.
What to Tell the Sitter
Make sure the pet sitter has keys to two of your doors, understands the alarm system, and knows where emergency numbers are.
Whether he is staying in the house or coming and going a few times a day, let him know your general routine so that the dog is walked when and as often as he is accustomed to and that all your pets are fed on schedule. Let the sitter know what pieces of furniture, if any, the dog is allowed on, and if there is a cat or dog door.
Tell the pet sitter about any medications your pet needs and give him the phone number of your veterinarian. If your pet has a specific health problem, alert your vet of your plans and give him the name of the pet sitter. This way, if your pet gets sick, the vet will know that someone other than you will be calling and might need some special help.
Be sure the pet sitter can get in touch with you easily. If you are going to be abroad, designate a friend, relative, or neighbor as the contact person and make sure everyone is on board with the decision.
Once you have covered all bases, relax and enjoy your vacation. Your happy pets will welcome you home very soon!