Planning Your Vacation Series: Finding a Pet Sitter

What do you do with your pets when you go away on vacation? A pet sitter is a great option if you have pets that prefer to be in the comfort of their own home rather than in a strange new environment. A pet sitter can also look out for your home while you are gone and save you money on expensive boarding fees. Before you put your furry friend’s welfare in the hands of a pet sitter, there are some important things to consider.

Where to Start

A quick search online will reveal plenty of people willing to care for your pets while you are away. It is best to choose an organization that has certified and licensed pet sitters. A licensed pet sitter will have education and experience with pet care, nutrition, first aid, and animal behavior. Pet Sitters International and the National Association of Pet Sitters are two great places to start your search.

Meet and Greet

Before you hire a pet sitter, you should meet them in person to get a feel for them. If possible, invite them to your home so they can meet your pets. Take note of how they interact with your pet. This also gives you a chance to ask questions about their experience, education, and personal preferences when it comes to animals.


A professional pet sitter should be able to give you at least three references of people they have worked for in the past. Contact each reference personally to get their opinion about the trustworthiness and reliability of the pet sitter. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions to get the information you need.

Be Thorough

Once you decide on a pet sitter, be sure to give them detailed explanations about your pet’s needs. Tell them about how often your pet eats, what they can and cannot eat, what games they like to play, and any quirks they might have. Show them where you keep the food, how to dispose of waste, and which areas are good for walks and runs. It helps to also write down a list of any relevant information that the sitter may need.

Contact Information

Be sure to give your pet sitter phone numbers and addresses of people they can contact in case of an emergency. They should have a number they can reach you at while you are away, the number of your veterinarian, and the number of a back up person they can call if they cannot make it to your house.

Stock Up

Before you go away, make sure you stock up on pet supplies. It never hurts to have an extra stash of food, litter, and treats on hand. If your pet needs medication, be sure to provide this. This way your pet sitter will have everything he or she needs to care for your pet just like you would.

Leaving your pet behind when you go away is no reason to feel stressed or guilty. A good pet sitter can put your pet at ease and make sure they are healthy and safe so you can enjoy your vacation. With a little legwork, you can find an experienced and reliable pet sitter that both you and your pet trust and like.


Helen Billet is a freelance writer based in MA. She shares her home with 2 dogs, 4 cats and a handful of fish. And oh yes, her husband and 3 kids too.

One Response to “Planning Your Vacation Series: Finding a Pet Sitter”

  1. Cathy
    October 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    I answered an ad for someone that needed a sitter for a 9 lb Silky Terrier because her job had her traveling quite a bit. She came to my home with her little guy & he made himself right at home. Played with my two little dogs & dug through the toy basket. He then wanted to sit on MY lap! The interview took about 1 hr and she left confident that her baby would be well loved & taken care of. Oh yes, He did sleep in the BIG BED with my dogs & me. Of course I slept on a little corner while they had most of the queen bed.
    Alas the lady moved to Charlotte so I no longer have the joy of her little guy & miss him terribly. He was at my home from 4 up to 7 days a week.
    When you are searching for a loving environment don’t overlook a first timer. Do go to their home to see where your pet will stay. & interaction with other pets in the home. I am retired so I was with them all the time. Find out what they feed. If they don’t feed a 4 or 5 star food they won’t care about your dog.

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