We all want to take our pets with us wherever we go, but sometimes, that isn’t possible.
When it comes to traveling, many pet owners feel overwhelmed. Should you leave your pet in a cage at home and hope for the best? Or should you drop them off at a pet boarding kennel, surrounded by loud noises in an unfamiliar setting?
Pet sitters provide a relieving alternative to cages or kennels. But choosing a great pet sitter comes with its own set of questions — how do you select the best sitter? Are they really better than other types of pet care?
In this article, we’ll go into the specific benefits of hiring a pet sitter, as well as ways to find qualified people to watch your pets. We’ll end with going over tips on how to find the best pet sitter for your home, so you can have peace of mind the next time you have to leave your sweet pet behind.
- Why Should I Hire A Pet Sitter?
- Where To Look For A Pet Sitter
- How To Choose The Best Pet Sitter For You And Your Pet
- Your Pet Deserves The Best Care
Why Should I Hire A Pet Sitter?
Most of us have pets, and most of us have busy lives — despite how much we love our furry, scaly or feathered companions, life sometimes gets hectic.
This is where a pet sitter steps in. Broadly defined, a pet sitter is a professional, qualified individual who cares for your pet while you’re away. But they do more than set out food and water — a good sitter provides many benefits for both you and your pet.
For your pet, the many advantages include:
- Familiar environment: When you hire a sitter, your pet gets to stay in the setting where they are the most comfortable — your home.
- Regular routine: A sitter can ensure your pet keeps up their daily routine of feeding, exercise and medication.
- Less stress: Hiring a sitter eliminates the acute stress of a boarding kennel, as well as the stress of traveling to and from different locations — your pet has the freedom to roam around your home and property as usual.
- Focused attention: A pet sitter can give your pet the attention and quality time they deserve, so your pet won’t get lonely and afraid while you’re away — they can be the companion your pet needs.
- Fewer health risks: When you hire a sitter, they will monitor your pet and quickly notice any concerning symptoms — at the first warning sign, they can immediately take your pet to a vet. Choosing a sitter also means that your pet won’t be exposed to diseases like they might in a boarding kennel.
But the benefits of a pet sitter don’t stop at your pet’s wellbeing. Hiring a sitter also gives you, as a pet owner, several key advantages.
- Flexibility: When you hire a sitter, you aren’t restricted by the operating times of kennels. This gives you greater flexibility — if your pet needs care after office hours, a sitter can take care of it.
- Convenience: With a sitter, you always know exactly who to contact for an immediate report about your pet. If you are looking for a sitter to watch your pet while you study or work, you get an extra convenience — many pet sitters will pick up and drop off your pet from grooming, training or veterinary appointments, which frees up your schedule.
- Peace of Mind: When you hire a sitter, you can rest easy knowing that your pet is being cared for by a professional. You won’t have to worry about sudden medical emergencies or accidents — you have someone there with your pet, and they can let you know the moment anything happens.
- Perks: Many sitters will provide additional services like grooming and training. Also, they will often take care of your home while you’re away, handling chores like watering plants and collecting mail.
When you consider the advantages of a hiring sitter for both you and your pet, they will most often outshine other pet care alternatives. But a pet sitter isn’t just ideal for when you’re on vacation — a professional sitter is a perfect solution for a variety of schedule dilemmas.
Here are a few common situations that would benefit from a pet sitter’s services:
- During a workday: Whether you have a tedious commute or work long hours, your pet can be left alone for hours on end, and a day alone can be stressful for your pet. A sitter can interact with your pet during the day, playing with them and giving them exercise. A pet sitter is also a good solution for those days when you have to stay late at the office — a sitter can drop in and feed your pet or give them medication so they don’t get too far off their routine.
- Over a weekend getaway: Pet owners can often feel stuck at home. No one wants to leave their pet alone for a quick weekend getaway. A sitter allows you to easily escape the daily grind stress-free without worrying about your pet.
- Through a long vacation: Hiring a pet sitter is an excellent solution for a long vacation or work retreat. Your pet will be expertly and lovingly cared for by a qualified individual, giving you the ability to travel as you need.
A pet sitter gives you the freedom to travel or work worry-free, all while providing your pet with the best possible care and attention.
Where To Look For A Pet Sitter
For many pet owners, the first people you think of to watch your pet are friends, family or neighbors. While they can be a great resource, sometimes your friends aren’t familiar with or comfortable around your pet. It can also be awkward or uncomfortable to ask such a big favor from people you’re close to, and they might not want to take on so much responsibility. This is especially true if you travel frequently or need pet care on a regular basis — the busy schedule of your friends and family might mean they’re unable to make the time commitment of caring for your pet and home.
But where do you find a professional pet sitter? Here are five places to start your search:
- Word of Mouth
When you begin searching for a sitter, one of the best places to begin is by word of mouth. If you don’t need someone immediately, tell your friends, neighbors and coworkers you’re looking for a professional to watch your pets. They might be able to recommend a pet sitter that’s helped them or a friend — at the least, they will spread the word for you.
Asking your friends and neighbors allows you to get a personal recommendation from someone you trust, which helps you know you’re finding a good sitter. An online version of word of mouth is through social media — message friends or write a post about needing a pet sitter, and see if anyone you know responds. Social media allows you to reach a broad audience of people you know, which shortens the amount of time you’ll spend looking for a qualified sitter.
The downside of searching via word of mouth is response time — it might take longer to find a sitter if you are relying solely on a recommendation from someone you know.
- Ask Your Vet
Often, professional pet sitters will have connections with local veterinarians. Many veterinary assistants and technicians, including some of the staff at University Animal Clinic, pet sit in their personal time and have lots of experience working with different animals. During your pet’s next checkup, ask your vet if they know of any good pet sitters. Odds are, they can recommend a qualified individual that they trust.
Getting your vet’s recommendation also lets you know that the sitter has a place to take your pet in the case of a medical emergency. If something unexpected happens while you’re away, the sitter already knows an excellent veterinary clinic to visit.
When you ask your vet, you know you’re getting a reliable recommendation — a vet has your pet’s best interest at heart and will point you towards a sitter with similar values.
- Check With a Kennel
If you won’t be visiting your vet for a while, try asking a local boarding kennel if they know of any pet sitters in the area. Good pet sitters will often be known around your local pet community, can some will have connections with high-quality kennels. Asking a kennel also lets you know that your sitter has a solid back-up housing plan — if something unexpected happens in the sitter’s life and they were suddenly unable to care for your pet, they could take them to a reputable facility you know and trust.
Also, consider checking with your local humane society or a qualified pet trainer — they might have connections with a qualified sitter. Getting recommendations from professional pet care experts helps you know that you are getting some of the best sitters around.
- Search Online
Searching online is another excellent way to find a qualified pet sitter.
Start with the websites of professional pet sitter associations, such as The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International. These sites provide education and certification for pet sitters, so you can know you are getting the highest standard of quality.
You could also look for a sitter through a pet sitting website — most of them let you search via your zip code and provide a short profile on each sitter. Many sites show customer reviews of each sitter, so you can see what other pet owners have to say about each candidate. Some sites allow sitters to list their specialties and qualifications so you can narrow your search even further — if you have old, big dogs, you can find a sitter who specializes in both big and elderly dog care.
Pet sitting websites aren’t uniformly reliable, however. Some won’t post reviews of their sitters, which can make finding the right fit for you and your pet more difficult. If you find a sitter through a pet sitting website, make sure to ask for references if they don’t have any visible reviews — then you can contact other pet owners and hear about their experiences with the sitter.
- Try the Newspaper
Pet sitters often advertise using local community platforms. Town newspapers or community bulletin boards are a great way to search for a sitter. The yellow pages can also be a good resource — search for a sitter in the “pet sitting services” category.
For a higher tech version of a newspaper, search out online classifieds websites. These can also help you connect with available and qualified sitters in your area. Some sites offer app versions of their websites, which can make finding a sitter a more portable process.
When you find a sitter through a newspaper or local ad, you will have to do your own digging to find out if they have a good reputation. Be sure to ask them for client references so you know they deliver a professional level of service.
How To Choose The Best Pet Sitter For You And Your Pet
Selecting the right sitter is not just vital for your pet’s safety and health — it’s critical for the safety of your home.
Before you hire a sitter, make sure you’re confident in their experience, references and qualifications. Go over these questions with a potential sitter so that you and your pet can have a successful pet sitting experience.
- Do they have references? Before hiring a sitter, ask for any past clients who can vouch for their professionalism and experience.
- What services do they provide? Some sitters can provide additional services such as pet grooming and training.
- Do they have insurance? The best sitters are bonded and insured. If they are bonded, it means that in the instance of theft, their pet sitting agency would fully compensate you for your losses. When a sitter has insurance, it means that your property is protected from any damage that may occur while you’re away. Some pet sitter companies offer pet health insurance and will pay for any veterinary costs during the sitter’s stay.
- What are their emergency plans? Ask if the sitter has a backup plan in the case of an emergency. Where would the sitter take your pet if they needed emergency medical attention? Who would watch your pet if the sitter was suddenly unable to care for them?
- Do they get along with your pet? Before hiring a sitter, watch them interact with your pet. How do they treat them? Does your pet appear to like the sitter?
- What is their training? Ask the sitter if they have been qualified by a professional pet sitting association. Do they have any additional training or specialized experience?
Once you’ve found a sitter, start small if you can — have them care for your pet during a short trip like a weekend getaway so you can work out any problems before you’re gone for a longer stretch of time. And regardless of your sitter’s experience, make sure to leave them with detailed instructions about your pet’s care, as well as emergency contact information.
Asking these questions sets both you and your pet up for success, and helps you have peace of mind knowing you are leaving your pet with a qualified and professional caregiver.
Your Pet Deserves The Best Care
A sitter does more than set out food and water. They are your pet’s companion and caregiver while you’re away, the person you trust with a member of your family. That’s why it’s important to not settle for the first available sitter — your pet deserves a qualified and kind professional.
Just like your pet deserves the best sitters, they deserve the best veterinary care. If you live in the Bradenton, Sarasota or Lakewood Ranch area, drop by University Animal Clinic for a checkup before you leave on your next trip or stop by to see if any of our assistants or technicians are available to pet sit while you’re out of town. We are passionate about preventative care and dedicated to providing the best possible medical service for your pet.
Contact us online or gives us a call at 941-355-7707 to learn more or schedule an appointment. We look forward to meeting you and your four-legged family member.