Choosing a pet care service that’s right for you and your pet
As pet parents, we only want what's best for our animals. And that includes making sure they get the best care, even when we're not around.
Updated on the 11/12/2020, 10:08
There are many reasons why you may need a pet care service. Maybe you're going away on holiday, or for a weekend, or maybe you're just a very busy person who's out for most of the day. Whatever the case, if you're going to be out of the house for a long time and can't take your beloved pet with you, then it is of the utmost importance that you find a solution to ensure they are well cared for in the meantime.
This is when pet care services come into play. But you can't just opt for whatever business has the lowest prices, or is closest to you! No, you must think about what works best for you and for your pet. Different personality types will fare better or worse depending on the type of service selected. If you want to leave your home with some peace of mind, then make sure you know everything there is to know about the different pet care options available to you!
Dog walkers, pet sitters, and pet borrowers
A dog walker, pet sitter, or pet borrower will come into your home while you're away. They may stay for a short amount of time, just to check on your pets and refill their bowls, or they may stay much longer, such as overnight, if they are required to.
A dog walker, pet sitter, or pet borrower who comes into your home is a great option for pets who are timid and uncomfortable outside of their territory. This is often the case for cats, but it can also be the case for some dogs, especially if they are getting into their senior years or suffer from some sort of ailment. An in-home sitter enables them to stay within the comfort of their own home while they are being looked after. This option is also very practical for the owner as there is no need to transport the pet to and from a day-care or boarding facility.
If your pet is indeed uneasy outside of their comfort bubble, then it's a good idea to have them meet the dog walker, pet sitter, or pet borrower prior to being left alone with them. Also consider that you'll be letting a stranger into your home. Ask for referrals, check for certifications, and ensure you're happy with this person before you give them the keys to your house!
Doggy daycares are becoming increasingly common all over the world. As the name suggests, these places offer daycare for dogs whose owners are out of the house all day. However, most of these places also have dog boarding kennels for any guests needing an overnight-stay.
A daycare is a great option for dogs who are young, energetic, and need plenty of mental, physical, and social stimulation all day, every day. At a daycare, your pet will not only interact with their carers, but with other dogs too. These places are usually "free-range". Your pet will most probably get treated to games and training throughout the day, keeping them busy while you can't.
As with any kind of service, you should visit the facilities before you make a big commitment to it. Make sure it's clean, not too crowded, and that the carers are qualified animal lovers! Of course, you'll have to transport your pet to and from the daycare, but if its the right option for your pet, then that's a small price to pay!
Licensed in-home pet sitters
Licensed in-home pet sitters will offer their services in their own homes. They may offer daycare as well as overnight-stay services and may also look after more than one pet at once.
This option is a good compromise between boarding kennels and a pet sitter coming to your home. It's a great option for pets who prefer a home setting, but is also great for owners who would rather not have someone entering their home while they're away.
As you would with a professional business, you should ensure that this person's home is suitable and safe for your pet. Visit them ahead of your pet's stay and check that the garden is well fenced-in, that the house is clean, and that anyone living in the house (especially children), will know how to handle your pet.
Boarding facilities will usually have kennels with both indoor and outdoor runs and are well-equipped to care for your dog for long periods of time. They may, however, also offer daycare services.
Boarding kennels are best suited to dogs who are social and confident, even in an unfamiliar and busy environement. They are also a good option for owners who prefer not to have anyone in their home, and for whom in-home sitters are not an option either.
Boarding kennels are a safe option in the sense that they usually have a lot of experience, certifications, and customer reviews that you can rely on to make the right choice. Kennels also ensure that your dog can have some privacy, which can be a good thing if your dog suffers from any health or behavioural issues.
How to select the best dog sitter service
There are several questions you should ask your pet care service, regardless of which one you choose, to ensure that your dog or cat will be safe while you're gone.
For example, do they have a vet or vet nurse on sight? If not, who is their emergency contact? Good pet care services usually have excellent rapport with local vets so they can contact them at any time of the day or night in case of an emergency. This type of information is especially important to know if your dog is fragile or on medication for example.
You should also ask yourself how responsive your dog's carers are. If you've forgotten to tell them something important about your dog but you've already left, you'll want to be able to get in touch with your dog's carers quickly and easily. Ensure that you have your carer's social media information, email address, and/or phone number. Test their responsiveness prior to leaving your pet there. A professional service will not only respond quickly, but also in a friendly and competent manner.
If we could take our pets with us everywhere, then we would. Unfortunately, this isn't always possible, so the next-best thing is finding the perfect place and person for them to stay with while you're gone. All in all, the most important thing is that you leave with some peace of mind. Just keep these handy tips in mind, and you and your pet will be fine!
Frequently asked questions
How do I choose a pet sitter?
If you decide to go with a pet sitter for your pet, then there are a few things to consider. Firstly, ask for recommendations. Whether you have friends or family who have hired this sitter before, or you ask your sitter for references, you should get some objective opinions on your sitter before hiring them. Also conduct some online research for potential reviews. Meet the sitter in advance and don't hesitate to ask them lots of questions. What are their qualifications? Why are they dog-sitting? How long have they been doing this for? You can also ask them in-context questions such as: what would they do if your dog was injured during a walk? Of course, it's also important that both you and your pet feel good about the sitter. If there's no chemistry there, then maybe you should search for a different one.
Find out more about choosing a trustworthy pet sitter.
What is the average cost for a pet sitter?
On average, pet sitters charge around £25 per day. This varies enormously depending on the business but also on how long this person will look after your pet. A quick drop-in just to check on your animal will cost much less than an overnight weekend stay, for example.
Looking to become a dog sitter?
Where can I take my dog?
If you're not comfortable leaving your dog behind, that leaves you only with the option to take them with you. In essence, this is always possible. The trick is just to find the companies who are willing to transport pets. Be aware that travelling with an animal is much more costly than travelling alone and that you will most probably be required to vaccinate and quarantine your animal prior to certain trips. In some cases, leaving your pet with a trusted pet care service is less tiring and stressful for your animal.
Find out how to travel with a dog.