Pet Sitting 101

Samantha O’Boyle, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist
Pet Poison Helpline

Just like human children, our fur babies know that when mom and dad are away it is time to play. Or, in some cases, wreak havoc and throw raging parties [although I may be getting humans and animals confused again.]

It is important to obtain as much information as possible about the animals you are watching. It may seem silly especially if you are only pet sitting for a day or so, but you never know when that information may be beneficial. Knowing things like is the dog or cat good at opening doors? Are they aggressive to people or other animals while on walks or if someone comes over to visit? Do they like to get into trouble normally so you have to keep all the doors shut if they are not under your watchful eye?

Even though I have been made fun for this, whenever I leave town and someone stays at my house, I always write down pages and pages of information on each one of my pets for the sitter.  I will give a brief description of their personalities and sneaky tendencies and then how explain how I like each of them to be cared for.

I have answered many emergency calls where a pet sitter has not known information such as the age or even weight of the pet they are watching. In normal day to day life we do not need to know how much a friend’s dog weighs, but that data is vital if a dog or cat decides to ingest something poisonous on your watch.

What to know:
Breed of pet
Sex (male, female, are they altered (i.e. neutered or spayed))
Age
Weight
Health history (i.e. allergies, heart conditions, diabetes, thyroid conditions, etc.)
Current diet (actual name), medications and dosages
Regular vet (during normal hours) or emergency vet (at night or weekend)
Emergency contact information if owner is not available

No one wants to be put in an emergency situation, but it is best to be prepared for any eventuality. If you ever have to call the Pet Poison Helpline or you end up at an emergency clinic in the middle of the night you will be grateful that you had this information available. We will also be just as grateful since we will be able to provide you with the best care possible.