The guide to pet sitters: What should you be looking for?
Pets add a lot of richness to our lives, but they can also be constraining. If you like to travel or take holidays, then pets add a whole other level of organisation to the mix. You have to put out their food, make sure their transportation and papers are accessible in case of a vet visit, and arrange for drop off and pick up if you are using a kennel. However there's a few different options to consider before your break. Here's our guide to helping you come home to a happy catty or doggy.
Most animals hate going to kennels. It's not surprising given how important their home comforts are. Animals have a strong sense of territory, which is mostly smell based, and the new surroundings, sounds and smells of a kennel can frighten them. However you may have a sociable pet who likes other cats and dogs in which case a kennel might be more entertaining than sitting around at home. Kennels give you peace of mind as you know where your pets are, and there's much less risk of them being injured or getting lost while you're away. The decision on whether or not to choose kennels depends very much on your animal. Do your research thoroughly and inspect the kennels before choosing them. A cleanly maintained and well ventilated premises indicates the owners are thoughtful and will take more time and care over your animal. There should be either indoor or outdoor runs so that your pet can get some exercise. Some kennels even come with frills like good toys and music piped into their accommodation! You could also take advantage of the opportunity to have your dog or cat bathed or groomed while you're away.
Pet sitters are a really good way to allow your pet to remain in its own familiar surroundings. Of course they may feel worried about an unknown person coming into your house so it's essential that you give them time to get to know each other before you leave. A pet sitter can double as a dog walker and also water your plants and pick up your post - all important ways to make the house look lived in, deter potential burglars and ensure that you return to a well maintained property. Of course it's vital that you trust your sitter so make sure they come from a well recommended source and read their reviews. A pet sitter should have a CRB check, insurance and also allow you to take photocopies of their identifying documents. Another nice touch is they can send you photos of your beloved pets while you're away so that you enjoy your holiday without a care in the world. A good pet sitter doesn't have to cost the earth either - starting from as little as £6 per day (depending on how many pets you have and their requirements).
Family and friends
This is obviously the safest option for leaving your house in good hands as well as being the cheapest. However not everyone has family or friends who live close enough that they can pop in daily. Also, some people would prefer to know that a reliable professional is looking after their pets - someone who is paid to go in every day. If a friend or family member is doing you a favour by coming in then you can't really complain if they forget, feed your pet the wrong food or damage something. Pet sitters are insured against damage and injury and have a wide experience of pets and what to do when something goes wrong.
Choosing a good pet sitter
A pet sitter should come across as a professional who cares about their job. Local neighbourhood forums are a good place to find recommendations, as is Gumtree. If a pet sitter has spent a bit of money on a decent website - again this is a sign that they take it seriously. Asking the following questions will give you a better idea of how reliable they are.
- Is this your only job?
- Can anyone cover for you when you're ill or on holiday?
- Are you CRB checked?
- What would you do in x situation?
- Do you have pets yourself?
- How far away do you live?
- Have you got any qualifications?
A prepared pet sitter will get you to fill out a form which details your pets' needs - dietary requirements, medical history, favourite toys etc. You will also get a gut feeling of whether they are good with animals by how they introduce themselves to your pets.