pet-sitting-logosVacationing or traveling with pets can be fun, but sometimes you need to find a good pet sitter for your pet. Work trips, out-of-country travel, or even an extra-long work day can mean your normal pet care routine can’t happen on schedule. You might be lucky enough to have a reliable friend or neighbor who can care for your pets, but what if you don’t? Boarding kennels are an option, but many pet owners fear their pets will not be happy in a kennel setting. Not to worry, in almost every city and town there are plenty of pet sitters that can take good care of your pets until you return.

There are primarily two types of pet sitting services you can use. One, the pet sitter comes to your home, and cares for your pets who stay at your home. The other, newly popular kind of pet sitter for dogs is one that hosts your pooch in their home, often through an online booking service.

Here are our tips for vetting both types of pet sitters to find the best pet sitter for you and your pet.

1. Get a referral. Ask your friends and family if they have a reliable pet sitter they use and trust.

2. Ask and check references. Ask for references that have a similar type of pet to yours — your pet sitter may be wonderful with big dogs, but does she know how to tell if a cat is acting sick?

3. Look for online reviews. If the pet sitter is operating as a business, you can often find reviews of their services on review sites like Yelp and also on their page if they have one on Facebook.

4. Have your pet interview the pet sitter. Pets can be particular! Even if she is the best pet sitter in the world, if she and your pet don’t get along well, it might not be a good fit.

5. Accredited, bonded, insured? Organizations like Pet Sitters International, NAPPS,  and DogVacay.com offer a range of services to their members, from insurance, bonding, to background checks. Ask your pet sitter to provide a copy of their documentation and check online to make sure it is current.

6. Do a short trial visit. If you are going away for a long time, try a one-time visit while you’re away, even if it’s just for the day at work. That way if any questions or problems arise, you’ll be locally available.

7. Spot check. If you’re going away for more than two days, see if a neighbor, friend, or family member can do occasional spot-check visits,  to make sure your pets are being cared for in your absence.

8. Ask for daily updates. Your pet sitter should update you daily to let you know how your pet is doing. Some pet sitters can send photos too, don’t hesitate to ask them to do this for you!

9. Have a backup plan. If something happens to your pet sitter, you need an emergency backup plan for someone to care for your pets. Bring those telephone numbers with you! For example, your vet might do emergency boarding if needed, but check before you leave. Leave a key so someone else can access your home if needed.

10. Have a great trip!