Your flights and hotels are booked and you can’t wait to leave for that long-awaited vacation…Here’s what your professional pet sitter wants you to do before you board the plane or hit the road!
1.Make sure your pets are healthy and up to date in their shots.
It is very important to update your pet sitter about your pets’ current and past health issues and concerns. Has your cat recently started to vomit after a meal? Was your dog diagnosed with kidney stones a few months ago? What about these allergies you suspected last year?
If your pet sitter knows, they will be better prepared to react in case these symptoms reappear. In case of an emergency visit to the vet clinic, the vet will want to know about the recent history of your pets and if their vaccines are up to date.
2.Contact your veterinary clinic so they have your pet sitter info on file, and add a credit card to your account to cover for emergency vet fees.
Keep in mind that your regular vet clinic may not be able to accommodate a medical emergency or a visit after hours. For those situations, our best option is often the 24hr vet hospital which may not have your pet's file and credit card on record. Make sure you have a Vet Release agreement signed with your Veterinarian naming your pet sitter along with details and information about care and responsibilities. Maybe have a current copy of your pet's records on hand so the sitter can bring them along for the Emergency visit or have your regular vet send them over before you leave.
3.Make sure you have enough food, medication and pet supplies for the entire duration of your absence, with a little more just in case.
It is important to make sure your pet sitter will have enough food for your pets for the entire duration of your absence, plus a few extra days in case of a delay or an emergency. Furthermore, stocking up is important for medications, and specialty brands of food and vet prescribed diets which can be challenging for your pet sitter to get while you are away (especially if you order online!). Remember that if your pet sitter needs to do some shopping for your pets on your behalf, you will be invoiced for the purchases, the time and extra fuel.
4.The same applies for cleaning supplies.
Make sure you have an healthy supply of paper towels, rags and wipes. The products you use to clean your floors and carpets should be well labeled and easy to find for your pet sitter. Although house-cleaning is not usually part of the scope of work of your pet sitter, pet sitters will gladly clean up little messes and accidents provided they have access to adequate cleaning supplies.
5.Don’t hesitate to leave additional pet care notes for your pet sitter!
If the pet care routine of your pets has changed recently, don’t hesitate to let your pet sitter know! Have you changed the amount of wet food for your cat lately? Do you wish us to compost your dog’s waste using special biodegradable bags? Did you add a second litter box in the basement? Did your cat find a new place to hide when visitors come? Let your pet sitter know!
6.Clean the dog waste in your yard and the cat litter box before leaving!
Professional pet sitters carefully monitor their pets’ urination and bowel movements. After all, when an animal is ill or isn’t feeling well, one of the first symptoms indicating a potential medical problem is an increase or a reduction of urination and bowel movements. For a pet sitter to be able to fully assess the elimination schedule of a pet is to start with a clean yard or a clean litter box on Day One.
7.Pets ID, tags and microchips.
Make sure your dogs have their ID and a valid city license tag on them. When was the last time you checked your cat's or dog’s microchip? If you have moved or if your pet was adopted, make sure the microchip is registered to the correct owner and address! Having the chip in place is not enough, it needs to be activated with your current contact and emergency contact information. Note that your pet sitter is not responsible for any bylaw assessments or fines related to an expired license or tag, or the absence of one.
8.Have carriers and transportation crates easily accessible.
If you have crates and carriers for your pets, make sure they are easy to find and accessible in case of an emergency.
9.Make sure all doors and windows are in proper working order.
It is very unsettling for a pet sitter to realize that a door or a window cannot be locked or is broken while the client is away. Although no home owner is fully protected from an home invasion or a break-in, we can significantly limit the risks by making sure all windows and doors can be properly secured, closed and locked. This is for the safety of your pets, and the safety of your pet sitter.
10.Take a tour of your house before leaving.
On top of making sure your windows and doors are closed and locked, walk around the house to secure your gates, lock your garage and shed doors, and secure anything that could be blown down by the winds or damaged by storms. Can you find anything representing a hazard for your pets, like poisonous plants, candies, strings or elastics? What about those electric extension cords? If your pets are restricted to a specific part of the house or a crate or a cage, make sure they can’t escape or chew their way out! Do you have an appliance with an history of leaks? Turn the water off during your absence and tell your pet sitter as they will need access to water.
11.Put your digital thermostat and your lights on a schedule.
Make sure you update your thermostat schedule to ensure your pets and pet sitter are comfortable in the house while being energy efficient. Timers on lights are always a clever idea to give the house a “lived-in” feel.
12.Expecting house guests? Beware.
It is not uncommon for pet and home owners to ask a neighbor or a family member to come and check on their pets and property while they are away, even though a pet sitter has been hired and is expected to stop by daily. Some well-intentioned clients will offer their home to a friend or a grown-up child to sleep over for a night or two.
So why do most pet sitters cringe when they learn that they may share the house or the care of the pets with someone else? Why do some even flat-out refuse to proceed with the contract and return the house keys?
Professional pet sitters who have accepted to job-share with visitors have seen it all. From surprising your guests “being intimate” on the couch, to walking into a missing dog situation or an over-medicated cat, the possibilities for things to go wrong are endless and not without consequences for your pet sitter.
Job-sharing carries a real risk of voiding your pet sitter’s insurance coverage if your pets would end up injured, sick or lost, and your property damaged.
Most professional pet sitters prefer to avoid situations where there could be some miscommunication and drama involved, for the sake of their relationship with the clients and their own reputation.
This doesn’t mean that your pet sitter will not accept to care for your pets alongside other people, but job-sharing should be thoroughly discussed with your pet sitter and the other parties involved. You may be asked to agree to sign a job-sharing waiver or agreement, relieving your pet sitter from all claims.
And don’t forget that if you do not let your pet sitter know you will be receiving house guests in your absence, your pet sitter will most likely call the police to report any suspicious activity around your house.
13.Emergency Contacts, neighbors and your landlord.
When you originally signed up with your pet sitter, you most likely provided them with a list of emergency contacts. Before leaving, don’t forget to review and update this list with your pet sitter.
If you have a landlord, make sure they know you are away and a pet sitter has been hired to watch over your pets, as this can have serious repercussions on the renter and the landlord home insurance policies. Make sure your pet sitter has his or her contact info on file!
If you have a good relationship with your neighbors, you can always let them know a pet sitter will be visiting your pets daily so they don’t call the police.
14.Travel plans and flight information.
It is always a clever idea to update your pet sitter with your itinerary, destination as well as flight times and numbers. In the event of a delay, severe weather or emergency situations, your pet sitter should be able to check your flight status and assess if you might require additional visits.
15.Smoke Alarms and CO2 Detectors.
Before you leave, make sure to check and/or change the batteries of your smoke and CO2 detectors. The high pitch beeping sound can be very stressful for pets left at home.
16.Jewelry, cash, keys and electronic devices.
Before you leave, place all your valuables in well-hidden, secured locations. Professional pet sitters do not steal cash, engagement rings and laptop computers from their clients, but a burglar will if given the chance. Don’t make it easy for them!
17.Notify your Alarm System Provider about your pet sitter.
All pet sitters do eventually trigger a security alarm at one time or another. Therefore, it is important to update your provider of your travelling dates and plans and to give them the contact information for your pet sitter so they can reach them directly if an alarm is tripped.
18.Discard food and empty trash cans and bins.
Food going bad can cause bad smells but also damage surfaces and attract unwanted pests. You should discard (or eat!) all the food that may go bad during your absence, as well as empty the garbage bins.
19.Lawn care and maintenance
If you are going away for a significant amount of time, make sure to have someone take care of your lawn and yard. Nothing screams “no one’s home!” more than un-manicured lawns.
20.Camera Surveillance Systems
If you have cameras around your property, or recently installed a new surveillance system, don’t forget to mention it to your pet sitter. Most pet sitters will welcome such system as added security for themselves and their clients’ pets.
It is common courtesy, and sometimes mandatory by law, to let your pet sitter know the whereabouts of the cameras and that actions are being monitored and recorded. This way, your pet sitter may avoid changing clothing in a monitored area of the house or will refrain from having a private conversation on their cell phone while inside.
Please, keep in mind that camera systems are not accurate 100% of the time. There have been reports of pet sitters accused of not showing up to their visits because their arrival was not recorded on cameras. Several times, it was proven that the surveillance system was at fault, after the pet sitter showed proof of their visits, like a photo, a written journal or a GPS tag.
21.Label tips and gifts!
If you are one of those clients who loves to leave “a little something” for their pet sitter, make sure to label any gifts, gift cards and cash as such – and thank you!