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FINDING A PET SITTER

Some pets just don't do well in boarding kennels. For these pets, as well as multiple pets that live within the same family, pet sitters can be the perfect solution. However, it can be scary to trust your home and your precious companion to someone when you're out of town, so you need to find the right person.

Explore Your Options

Pet sitters can stay in your home and take care of your pet while you are gone, keep your pet in their home, or stop by your house at certain times during the day to check on, let outside to "do their business," feed and play with your pet.

The first two options work best for animals that require more attention because of health or behavior conditions such as separation anxiety. The last option works well if your pet is housetrained, healthy and nondestructive.

If you have more than one pet, a pet sitter who visits or stays with them in your home may make the best choice. Your pets will have each other for company and they'll be in familiar surroundings.

Do a Thorough Checkup

You may have a trusted friend who can pet sit while you're away. If not, ask your friends and your veterinarian to recommend good pet sitters.

Hopefully you won't need it, but you'll have more legal recourse in case of trouble if you use a professional pet sitter who is bonded, insured and associated with a trade organization such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS). Pet sitters with these credentials may be more likely to take their work seriously, provide a higher level of service and be more knowledgeable about pets' needs than nonprofessional sitters.

Hiring a pet sitter can often be much less expensive than boarding your pet - especially if you have more than one pet at home. Also, pet sitters keep an eye on your home while you're gone and typically offer additional services, such as bringing in your mail and taking out the trash, at no extra cost. Because a pet sitter is focused on your pet and not on a kennel full of animals, your pet will get more attention. This is particularly important if your pet becomes ill, as it is less likely to be overlooked than when your pet is at a kennel. All this and you and your pets avoid the stress of boarding.

Make a Date

Your furry friend and the sitter should meet before you leave so you have a chance to see how they interact. During this visit, you'll also let the pet sitter know your pet's normal schedule, give the sitter a list of any commands your pet obeys, explain any special health concerns including medications your pet takes or allergies your pet has and warn the sitter about anything that might provoke your animal, such as loud noises or contact with certain parts of your pet's body. If it is the first time the pet sitter has been to your home, you may want to try them for a short period of time, such as weekend, to ensure that you, your pet and the sitter are all comfortable with each other.

Be sure you leave the number where you can be reached and your veterinarian's name and number in case of an emergency, as well as a release so your sitter can take your pet to the veterinarian for treatment, if necessary.

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