How To: Find the Perfect Pet Sitter

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As you plan the perfect weekend escape or vacation— what the heck are you going to do with your dog?  Or cat, if you’re a cat person.  For many people, the thought of leaving their much loved, four-legged family member in a boarding kennel is too hard.  A pet sitter is another good option.

A neighbor or nearby family member may volunteer to help out, but Dr. Susan Nelson, veterinarian and clinical assistant professor at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says there are some things you need to keep in mind when choosing a pet sitter.

Here are her tips:

* Have the pet sitter come to your home to meet your pet prior to the sitting, so you can observe how sitter and pet interact.

* Ask what services the sitter offers, such as in-home grooming, walking, training and playtime.

* Ask what training the sitter has received.

* Ask if the pet sitter can provide written proof of insurance and or if they are bonded.

* Ask for a list of other clients as references.

* Ask if the sitter associated with a veterinarian and if the sitter is willing to use your veterinarian for emergency.

* Find out if the sitter has an experienced backup.

* If the sitter comfortable and experienced at giving medications and/or injections, if needed.

* Find out how often will the sitter check on your pet.

* Ask for a written service contract that spells out the sitter’s services and fees.

Nelson also said pet owners have their own responsibilities to make sure the pet-sitting goes smoothly, including:

* Making reservations with a pet sitter early to avoid rushed last-minute decisions.

*Making sure the pet is well socialized and accustomed to allowing strangers to handle it.

* Maintaining current identification tags and vaccinations for the pet, as well as past and current medication information in case a trip to the veterinarian arises.

* Leaving clear instructions detailing the sitter’s specific responsibilities, as well as any medications the pet may need.

* Keeping food and supplies in one place, along with extras.

* Leaving a house key with a trusted neighbor as a back-up precaution.

* Showing the pet sitter the home’s important safety features such the circuit breaker and security system.

* Providing written authorization for the pet sitter to act on your behalf in case of needed medical treatment.

* Discussing your wishes with the pet sitter in the event of the death of your pet.

* Leaving your complete contact information and contact information of another family member with the sitter.

 Dr. Susan Nelson earned her bachelor’s degree in biology in 1985 at Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. Prior to that, she attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for two years. Dr. Nelson obtained her DVM in 1989 from K-State and worked as an associate veterinarian in private small animal practice in Manhattan for 14 years before joining the clinical faculty in 2003.

Her interests are preventive care, senior wellness and puppy/kitten wellness. Her other interests involve dentistry and feline medicine.


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