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How to choose the right pet sitter

BY Blue Cross

4th Sep 2023 Inspire

3 min read

How to choose the right pet sitter
The experts from Blue Cross share their advice for how to ensure your dog or cat is in the best hands possible when you go on holiday
Our pets are part of our family so it’s important to factor them in when planning a trip if you’re not taking them with you, considering who will be caring for them.  
"Our pets are part of our family so it’s important to factor them in when planning a trip"
Pet charity Blue Cross advises planning well in advance so you have peace of mind that your pet will be happy and comfortable while you’re away. 

Family and friends 

Leaving your pet in the care of a trusted family member, friend or neighbour will give you peace of mind that they will be well cared for. 
Dog lying at woman's feet
Your pet may be able to stay with them in their home or they may be able to come into your home to look after your pet while you’re away. 
Things to consider if your pet is staying in another house: 
  • Do they have another pet, and will they get on with your pet? 
  • Are there children in the home and is your pet happy around them? 
  • Do they have a garden or are they prepared to walk to your pet more regularly to allow for toilet breaks? 
  • Is the garden secure so your pet can't escape?

Pet sitter 

Pet sitters stay in your home or visit your home to look after your pet while you’re away for a fee. If you don’t have friends or family who can look after your pet, then this is a good option which allows your pet to stay in their home in a familiar environment and you will receive regular updates from your pet sitter. 
"A pet sitter allows your pet to stay in their home in a familiar environment"
Finding a pet sitter: 
  • Ask friends, family, neighbours, vets or local community groups for recommendations 
  • Meet potential sitters before you book to see how they get on with your pet and to make sure you are happy they can care for your pet 
  • Make sure they are insured and DBS checked. Pet sitters don't need a licence to work, but reputable ones will be able to show you training and insurance certificates.
  • Check reviews online from independent review sites. You can also ask for existing client details to check on their experiences. 

Home boarder 

Home boarders are people who take pets into their own homes and look after them within the home. This is different from a pet sitter, who looks after pets in the pet’s own home. 
How to find a good home boarder: 
  • Meeting your potential home boarder once or twice at a neutral location such as a favourite dog walking spot will allow you to see how they are around your dog.
  • Check their home has no obvious dangers like exposed wires and cables lying about, toxic substances are locked away and garden fences are secure.
  • Your pet should be invited round for a short trial period to get to know their temporary home and meet the family—including any children and pets—they’ll be staying with.
  • They can show you reviews and are happy for you to contact other customers for references.
  • They know what to do and who to contact in an emergency.
  • You can easily find and view their licence to home board dogs from the local council, insurance details and training. 

Boarding kennels 

Kennels are an option when you’re away, but this will depend on whether your pet is comfortable with being in a kennel environment. 
Boarding kennel
Many pets find kennels isolating and if they don’t like being left alone, leaving them in a home environment where they can enjoy the company of people will be best for them. 
How to find a boarding kennel: 
  • Good places book up fast, so start your search in plenty of time.
  • Get a personal recommendation if possible, and check the kennel is licensed by the local authority.
  • Ask if you can visit before you book to view the kennels.
  • Check the living area is warm, secure, clean and dry, with plenty of comfortable areas.
  • Ensure the location is not prone to flooding. 
  • Pets who don't know each other should not be able to make nose, paw or eye contact—other pets staring at them can be stressful.
  • A good kennel will ask lots of questions about your pet, including diet, to help keep to their routine.
  • Kennels should insist that your pet is up to date with vaccinations.
  • Ask about insurance cover and what the procedure is for contacting a vet and you, in case of a veterinary emergency. 
  • Find out how many staff there are per animal.
  • It's a good idea to add the kennel's name, address and number to your pet's microchip along with the dates they are in their care, in case they go missing while you are away. Check with your pet's microchip database to see if this is possible.
For more expert pet advice visit bluecross.org.uk 
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