How to Find a Reliable and Trusted Pet Sitter

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Your pets are family, so finding a reliable pet sitter is crucial for their health and wellness while you’re away. Dogs, in particular, are prone to separation anxiety and may even experience severe emotional distress when you're gone because they love being around you. Therefore, you want them to have the best care while you're away so they won't feel lonely. 

Luckily, you have options when looking for care for your pet while away. Finding the right cat or dog sitter means taking the time to research your options and find the best one based on your dog's needs and temperament. If you're wondering how to find a pet sitter, you've come to the right place. From boarding facilities and daycares to in-home sitters, let's discuss how you can find a trusted pet sitter for your beloved animal companion. 

What Is a Pet Sitter?

A professional pet sitter is a person or facility that offers pet sitting services; they may have their own facility where they board dogs and cats, or they may come to your home to care for your animal. Depending on the situation, some professional pet sitters can decide whether to watch your pets in your home or theirs. 

A professional pet sitter offers many services and has specialized training in CPR and pet first aid. These individuals or businesses are licensed as businesses, so they should be able to offer you references to vet them. They also have a contract that will include payment terms and various policies.1

Of course, a pet sitter can also be a friend or family member who cares for your pet in the comfort of your home. These individuals often know your pets well and will be able to effectively reduce their anxiety. However, some pets may not react well to strangers, especially in their homes; paying a friend or family member to care for your pet while you're away may be the best option, depending on your pet's needs and what you feel comfortable doing. 

Pet Sitters vs. Boarding Facilities & Daycares vs. Friends

When looking for a pet sitter, you have three options: pet sitters, boarding facilities, and friends and family. 

Professional pet-sitting services allow you to hire a pet sitter who is trained and experienced in taking care of various pets. In addition, using a professional pet-sitting service allows you to have a babysitter for your pet in your own home without worrying about where they are and what they're doing. 

As long as the pet sitter has instructions for properly caring for your pet, including their schedule, and certain types of health-related tasks, they should be able to properly care for your pet. Of course, professional pet-sitting services vary, so it's important to do your research to ensure the person you hire is trained and can properly care for your pet. Hiring someone through an app might not be the best idea since they're a stranger, and you can't guarantee they'll care for your pet the same way you would. 

Professional pet sitter checklist: CPR, pet first aid, business license,  professional references, and payment and policy contract

Boarding and daycare facilities allow you to board your pet while allowing them to enjoy the same daycare services as other pets that are being boarded. These facilities are great for pets who love being around other pets, while also offering no contact options for dogs that would rather have their own space.

Boarding and daycare facilities have several setup options – some allow your dog to roam the playroom and outdoor space freely, while others offer private suites. Many facilities also offer premium services like giving your dog a treat or reading them a story before bedtime. However, dogs with anxiety can still have difficulty adjusting to these facilities because they've never been there before. If your dog is struggling with anxiety, schedule a consultation with a Dutch vet to discuss anxiety treatment options, including medication and behavioral training.

Depending on your pet's needs, you can also choose other boarding facilities. Many vets offer boarding services, but your dog or cat will likely spend most of their time in a crate or run. Still, they'll get regularly scheduled potty breaks and a walk, but you should check with the vet to ensure your dog will be safe and happy. Some people prefer to have their pets boarded at the vet because if anything happens, the vet is already there to help. For example, if your dog is biting or scratching excessively, your vet can treat the cause and update you. 

Your final option is to ask a family member or friend to become your pet sitter. Family and friends may not have the same training as professional pet sitters, but since your pets already know them, it may ease your mind to use someone you trust. Having a trusted pet sitter ensures your dog and cat will be properly cared for while you're away; your friends and family likely already know your dog's schedule and how to properly care for them because they've watched you do it. 

In addition, you won't feel guilty about contacting them as much as possible to see how your pet is doing while you're away. Many pet owners prefer their friends or family to watch their dogs and cats because they can stay at home and keep their pets safe and calm. Being around someone they already know and love while staying in their own home can ease your pet's anxiety. Additionally, many veterinary support staff members offer pet sitting, so it may be a good idea to ask a trusted vet clinic for help.

How to Find a Pet Sitter

When looking for a trusted pet sitter, you have several options at your disposal. 

3 ways to find a pet sitter: asking friends and family, consulting your veterinarian, and researching boarding facilities.

In addition, you can find a professional pet sitter through organizations like Pet Sitters International and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters to help you find someone in your area.1 

You can also use for-profit apps to find pet sitters, but always do your research into who will be watching your pet because you can't always trust strangers to properly care for them. 

Choosing a Pet Sitter

Before choosing a pet sitter, you should have them meet your pet to ensure it's a good match. You should also meet them in person because it can help you determine whether you trust a stranger to watch over your beloved pet. 

Consider the following factors before choosing a pet sitter:

Services 

Professional pet sitters can choose which services they offer. Some may have a strict schedule they keep with how much time they spend with your pet, while others can offer overnight supervision, regular walks, and playtime. 

The types of services you need depend on your pet. For example, if you have a high-energy dog prone to getting bored without exercise, you'll need a pet sitter who can give them a walk every day. Meanwhile, some other dogs may do fine on their own as long as they have access to food and water and get regular potty breaks. 

Specialties

Professional pet sitters can have specialties for pets that have various needs. For example, some may specialize in small animals like small dogs, cats, and even rodents, while others may specialize in seniors or large breeds. 

You should always ask what type of pets a particular sitter has experience with, especially if your pet has any special needs like medical conditions or behavioral problems that may require administering medication.

If your pet has any special needs, make sure your sitter knows how to manage them.

Location of services

Many professional pet sitters can come to your home for an additional fee, while others will only watch your pet if you drop them off at their homes or facilities. If you want the pet sitter to come to your home to reduce your pet's anxiety while you're away, you should always consider the pet sitter's location. 

Qualifications

If you choose to have a professional pet sitter who you've never met before the initial consultation to watch your pet, you should know their qualifications and experience. You should always choose a pet sitter who is CPR and first-aid certified and has a business license.2 

You should also check their references to learn about the experiences of other pet parents and their animals to ensure you're working with a person who will take care of your pet to the best of their ability. 

Rates

While a pet sitter's rates should always be a concern, you should never decide based on pricing alone. Finding a cheap pet sitter may be good for your wallet, but it likely means your pet won't get the care and attention they need to be properly cared for.2

How to Know if You've Made the Right Choice

The initial interview with a potential pet sitter can help you determine whether they're the right choice for your pet. During this time, you can introduce cats and dogs to the sitter to see how they interact with one another. In addition, most boarding facilities require you to bring your pet in for a meet and greet to see how your pet plays with other animals before they'll agree to board them. 

However, when meeting with professional pet sitters, you'll need to rely on your own judgment to determine whether you've made the right choice. Your pet is an important member of the family, so you must find a pet sitter who will agree to your terms and conditions to ensure your pets are getting walked and fed at the right times, cared for in a location of your choosing, and offer regular communication so you can check in on your pet while they're in someone else's care. 

There are several ways to monitor your pet while you're away. Many boarding facilities have pet cams you can use throughout the day to watch your pet and hold staff accountable. However, if someone is watching your pet in your home, you can let them know you're setting up cameras to check in on your pet from time to time. Unfortunately, you can't really trust anyone to care for your dog or cat the same way you do, so you should always have a plan B in case the evidence proves your pet sitter wasn't the right choice. 

Cat and person playing with a feather wand

Final Notes

Finding a trusted pet sitter is crucial for the health and wellness of your dog or cat while you're away. With these tips, hopefully, you can find the right option for your pet based on its unique needs. However, you should always ensure your pet is healthy before leaving them for long periods to prevent any incidents while someone else is watching them. 

Consult a Dutch vet before hiring a pet sitter or taking your dog to a boarding facility to ensure they're up to date on vaccinations and in good health for you to leave them while you travel. We can help you prepare your pet for a sitter by providing instructions for giving your pet medicine, sending educational materials on certain health conditions, and serving as your resource if your pet gets ill while you're away. Try Dutch today. 

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References

  1. Meyers, Harriet. “How to Find & Choose a Pet Sitter.” American Kennel Club, 20 May 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/how-to-select-a-pet-sitter/.

  2. “How to Choose a Reliable Pet Sitter.” The Humane Society of the United States, https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/how-choose-reliable-pet-sitter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $15/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.