Finding Your Pet Sitter: 4 Key Questions to Ask

Finding Your Pet Sitter: 4 Key Questions to Ask

We all want to care for our pets ourselves, but sometimes we have to entrust our precious pooch or cuddly kitty to someone else. Keep reading for advice on how to find the right pet sitter.

woman holding dog and feeding it

Should I Hire A Pet Sitter?

The short answer to this question is "Yes" if you're unable to keep them safe while you're away. While most dogs and cats will do fine during the day, it's in your best interest to see that they are cared for overnight. The Humane Society of the United States advocates hiring a qualified pet sitter to provide your furry companion with attention while you are on the road. Not only will they get a loving lap to lounge around in, but you also will know your pet is being fed, exercised and given plenty of bathroom breaks.

gray cat being held by person wearing gold sweater

How Can I Find Quality Care?

Look to your network. Chances are, your friends, neighbors, local animal shelter, or veterinarian will be able to point you toward a reliable cat sitter or dog boarder. However, you can also research your options online through services such as Many sitters that advertise through the service are also members of the National Association of Pet Sitters and have extensive experience caring for animals of all ages and breeds.

golden retriever being walked

What Are Some Things I Should Consider?

It is not simply enough that your potential pet sitter has availability. You - and your pet - must be comfortable with them and their services. You will need to address issues such as:
  • Will the sitter provide care in their home or yours?
  • Do they have liability insurance to protect your home and pet in case of an accident or negligence?
  • What type of training have they completed?
  • How many other pets will be in their care during the timeframe you've requested?
  • Does your pet sitter have the ability to transport your animal to emergency veterinary care if necessary?
  • Do they have a backup plan should they become ill or otherwise unable to care for your pet?
  • Do they provide supplemental services, such as training or grooming?
  • Do they provide a written pet sitting agreement that specifically outlines fees, services, and exceptions?
  • Are there others that will be involved in the care of your pet?

If these questions can be satisfactorily answered, it's time to pay a visit to their home to scope out the environment your pet will experience. Visiting their location is an opportunity to judge whether or not they are a good fit.

As you tour the home or facility, look for indications of neglect such as excessive urine puddles or uncleaned excrement. Look at the animal feeding area to see its condition. If it is clean and tidy with adequate water available, chances are, pets in this individual's care are being fed correctly. However, if there is old, obviously molded food caked in bowls or, in the case of wet food, dry and brittle, you should look elsewhere. 

calico cat sitting at feet of person wearing orange socks

How Will I Know If My Pet Is Okay?

Even if a potential sitter makes it past your scrutiny, you should pay attention to how your dog acts upon your return. It is perfectly normal for your dog to be excited and ignore the sitter. What is not normal is for them to act fearful or bark/growl if they return to the location. Pay attention to your dog's behavior, and trust your gut. Bottom line: it not difficult to find quality care if you are willing to put the work into researching providers. The thought of leaving your beloved pet with a stranger is intimidating, especially if it's your first time. But the vast majority of pet sitters are simply people whose hearts and homes have extra space to make sure that no pet is ever left alone.
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