Trusting Someone to Care for your Babies
NO, YOU CAN'T GO WITH US THIS TIME! How do you choose a pet sitter or boarding kennel to care for your pets? I went through this dilemma when I needed to find someone to care for my 9 cats. With that big of a brood, we don't go away very often - but it does happen and I needed to find someone I could absolutely trust. Knowing that there are many of you dealing with the same issue, here are some tips that may help.
1. DECIDE if an in-home care-giver or boarding kennel is more appropriate for your pet(s). Cats usually do better at home since they are very attuned to their physical environment. Dogs can sometimes go either way, but since a dog needs to be taken out to eliminate several times a day, usually a boarding kennel is a better choice.
2. GET A REFERENCE from friends or family if possible. You can also give us a call - we keep a list of petsitters and boarding kennels who have good reputations, based on feedback from our clients.
3. CALL the Better Business Bureau before you make a final decision, to check for any disputes or problems.
4. ASK for a tour or any boarding facility you are considering. Check for cleanliness, odors, staff friendliness, feeding and exercise schedules, what they do in the event of an emergency, see where your pet will be housed, if they can deal with any special needs such as giving medications.
5. FOLLOW-UP on personal references if you decide to use a petsitter. They should schedule an introductory meeting at your home to meet your pets and discuss care and schedule visits. Check for promptness, interactions with your pets, willingness to accomodate the schedule and care needs, willingness to medicate, emergency protocols, and your gut feeling about how you connect with them. Are they willing to text you after every visit with a short report? Mine does, and sometimes pictures too!
6. Make sure VACCINATIONS are up to date at least one month prior to the boarding date. Check with the kennel as to their requirements, and be ready to supply proof of vaccination.
7. Call us with CONTACT INFORMATION for whoever you choose to take care of your pets. And make sure they also have our hospital phone number! Be assured that Andover Animal Hospital will take care of your pets in the event of an emergency - we will call you promptly, so this is why we also need your contact information if you are going to be away.
8. Determine DIET AND FEEDING SCHEDULES in advance. You may even want to portion the meals out in containers or sandwich bags, or otherwise be very specific. Feeding time with my 9 cats is like a well-oiled organized production - so I actually made a video of the entire procedure from my cell phone and sent it to my petsitter! It made me feel better and enabled them to stick to the same routine that my cats are used to, and made it easier on them since I had already worked out all the kinks! Definitely bring the pet's own food to a boarding kennel.
9. If there are MEDICATIONS involved, create a checklist. This works for both petsitters and boarding kennels.
10. Create an EXERCISE SCHEDULE for your pet, to help the care-giver adhere to the pet's normal schedule. This applies to cats too- my cats love to play laser at least once per day, so my petsitter followed this same routine. Remember that your going away creates a stressful situation for your pets, and anything you can do to help them keep to the same schedule is beneficial.
11. If you expect any PROBLEMS, such as intense anxiety or resulting diarrhea, call us a couple of weeks prior to your trip. There may be medications or probiotics that can help.
HAVE A NICE VACATION! You have just taken care of everything, so try to relax! And don't be afraid to call or text every day to see how your babies are doing!