Thursday, May 7, 2015

Summer Travel: Pet Care Planning

Summer is a busy time of year for travel and vacations. If your beloved family pet is staying home while you travel, a little advanced planning can give you peace of mind to enjoy your time away.

Some people rely on neighbors and friends for their pet care.  Others may choose to use a boarding facility.  While these options may work for some, others may want to hire a pet sitter.  

Find a pet sitter

Ask friends, neighbors and veterinarians for recommendations well in advance of your trip.  You can also check for online reviews.  Remember that many others travel during this peak season, and many pet sitters can book up quickly, so planning ahead is crucial.

Here are a few considerations as you contemplate your choices:

  • A pet sitter should provide references and you should check those references.
  • Many professional pet sitters are insured and bonded.
  • A pet sitter should be comfortable providing all the care that is necessary and be able and willing to follow specific instructions.  
  • Some pet sitters can provide more extensive care and services, such as administering medications, basic grooming, and nail trimming.
Schedule a home interview

Once you've contacted a pet sitter who seems to match up with your pet's particular needs, invite that person to your home for an interview. This gives the potential sitter a chance to interact with your pet, and it gives you the opportunity to gauge how comfortable you and your animal feel with that person.  Make sure to closely observe your pet’s reactions, and trust your instincts.  You must feel trust for the individual who will be in your home and caring for your pet.

The home visit also gives pet owners a chance to familiarize the sitter with the house, the locations of supplies, and areas the pet frequents or is not allowed to roam.
At the interview, you should establish how often the sitter will visit, whether he or she will stay in your home, and what backup plans are in place in the event that the sitter is not able to care for your pet.

When you decide to hire a sitter, confirm an agreed-upon price for the services to be rendered. You should also go over your expectations in the event of a medical emergency. Is the sitter willing and able to transport your pet to the local emergency room or to your veterinarian? Some people leave a signed letter, giving their vet or the ER permission to treat if you cannot be reached and may leave a credit card on file with the clinic so that payment is not a barrier to needed treatment.

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* * * Pet Sitter Check List * * * 

__ Emergency Contact Information (how to reach you while away)
__ Name and contact information for regular veterinarian
__ Name and contact information for closest pet emergency facility
__ Name and contact information for local friend/family member
__ Food & treats – dishes, schedule, and amounts
__ Water
__ Exercise activities
__ Favorite toys and games
__ Medication and notes about medical conditions
__ Spare key or code
__ Areas off-limits to pet
__ Photo (in case pet gets lost)
__ Pet carrier/leash/harness
__ Cleaning supplies/shampoos/wipes (in case accidents occur)
__ Additional expectations

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