So, you’re leaving your fur-baby with someone other than yourself. No one can take care of them the way you do but the best way to make it as close to your care as possible is to leave a detailed list of how things are done. Don’t be shy, leave as much information as you can think of. They may be taken aback by it at first but they will thank you for it if any questions or issues come up! Here is a list of some things that should be included in your pet sitter instructions.
First off, contact numbers for everyone. Leave your cell number, hotel number and room number. Time and date of departure and arrival. Leave the number of a trusted friend or family member. Leave your neighbor’s name and number (In case you get locked out and the pets are inside laughing at you!. And, of course, leave your Veterinarian’s name, clinic name, phone number, address and hours of operation. It doesn’t hurt to leave the name and number of the closest emergency clinic just in case. It can also be helpful to include your pet’s basic information as well; Name, breed, sex (Neutered? Spayed?), microchip/tattoo number, age and allergies.
Do you get your pet food at the Vet’s? The pet store? The breeders? Dry and canned? It’s helpful to know where to pick up the food and what the name of the specific food is in case they run out while you are gone. You don’t want your pet to eat just anything, especially if it is a prescription diet!
Make sure they know your pet’s schedule. Do you feed them twice daily? How much food do they get at a time? Do you add some canned food into their dinner? What time do they usually eat? What time do you usually walk Fido? Do you give Fido a special chew every day at 7pm? The pet sitter should know this in case Fido starts whining at 7 pm and they don’t know what is wrong! Does your dog sleep in a crate or does your cat like certain blankets? Does Fido like tennis balls better than Kongs? Which dog park do you frequent? Do you walk on leash or off? Having your sitter know the pet’s routines will help your pets be more comfortable and as we all know, pets are creatures of habit. Include any directions, commands or training your pet has, including hand signals. Does Fido respond to “come” or do you have another word for it? Good things to know in case they are out walking in the world and something happens and they need Fido to come back quickly! But don’t worry, of course nothing will happen while you are gone, we are just being prepared!
Speaking of being prepared, give a list of medications and instructions for use. Even if they are not on any daily medications, try to think ahead and cover all of your bases. If your cat starts sneezing or your dog’s eye is red is there something you usually do? Do you give any pills in cheese or peanut butter? All good things to know! Especially if they have to give Fido a pill and they are having no luck at all because you normally make a little “meatball” out of canned food and hide the pill in it.
Have a list of where the leash, food, harness, brush, etc. are kept. Also, let them know if there is anything off limits- Fido not allowed on the couch? Fluffy not allowed on the counter? Fido have a habit of getting into the garbage or counter surfing for goodies? Fluffy likes to eat elastic bands so they need to be hidden? Fluffy is an indoor cat only but likes to sneak out so you have to watch Fluffy closely near doors? A list of toxic foods and plants to pets can be handy as well.
If your pet is travelling to their caretakers, bring their familiar things. Crate, bedding, leash, favorite toys or bones. It will help them feel at home in a strange place. Cats on the other hand usually prefer to stay at home and have someone cater to them there.
Leave house instructions! Where is the emergency spare key? What is the security code? Expecting any guests like housekeepers? How do you work the thermostat and the tv/remote control? What is the Wi-Fi password? When is garbage day? How often should the litterbox be cleaned? Add mail collection info, plants to watered schedule.
Last but not least, make sure your Veterinarian knows when you will be away and the name of the person looking after your pets. Any payment issues can be discussed with the staff at your Vet’s office so your pet sitter doesn’t have any surprise bills that come out of their own pocket. If everyone has an idea of what to do in any circumstance you have a much better chance of enjoying your well-deserved vacation!