As a pet owner, there may come when you need to leave your pet at home with house sitters. While most pets can handle being left alone for a few hours, what should you do if you need to leave for a day or two?
If you’re planning a holiday, you should plan what you’re doing with your pets. How your pet handle being left alone can vary, and often leaving them with a friend or a professional sitter is the best method. When left alone to their own devices, dogs can get quite destructive because they are bored or stressed.
Cats tend to have fewer issues, but they can also fret and become uncomfortable with a broken routine. Many pets are also not capable of feeding themselves and may either not eat or gorge themselves on food left out.
Pets do best at home when left with a house sitter
The best solution to looking after your pets is to find a pet sitter that will come to your home (or stay for the duration) and take care of feeding and entertaining. Professional pet sitting is a good idea, but it usually comes at a cost. Coupling pet sitting with house sitting is an excellent alternative because you’re trading a place to stay for pet (and house) sitting services.
If you’ve never left your pets at home with a pet sitter, then read on to discover our top five tips when leaving your pet home with a pet sitter.
First things first: you need to choose a good pet sitter
The person you choose to leave your pet with is essential. If you have an animal with special needs, you must choose someone who has experience dealing with these concerns.
Planning is key to choosing a good dog or cat sitter. Give yourself around three months to find a pet sitter. This amount of time will allow for applicants to apply for your ad and give you a reasonable amount of time to choose a good person.
Ideally, you want to find a person with a similar interest in looking after pets in the same fashion as you. If you enjoy pampering your pets, finding a person who treats their pets the same way will mean fewer interruptions to your pets’ lifestyle. After you’ve found the ideal, it is time to prepare.
Leave contact details
A simple guide for leaving contact details is rarely enough. You need your contact details (phone, email, etc.), the details of the place you’re staying (including address), your local vet, and the details of someone in the area that knows you well.
In addition to your details, you should ensure that the details of your pet are all up to date. Have a new set of pet ID tags made and attach these to your pet’s collar. Check that your pet’s registration details are valid and have the correct information.
If your pets are microchipped, check that the details are accurate; your vet can help with checking the microchip status. If your pet is not microchipped, you should book in and have it completed with your vet. Microchipping and adding your pet to the registry will cost $50-$100, but it is well worth it, especially when cats can easily slip their collars.
Write up your pet’s routine and instructions
When you’re writing the routine, it needs to be very similar to what you do with your pet daily. For pets, having their owner missing can be very stressful, and they’ll rely on their daily routine for normalcy. If this routine changes too much, it can increase their stress levels. For example, if you walk your dog in the morning, but the routine you write asks for twice-daily walks, your pet may become confused and stressed.
The instructions you write are different to the pet’s routine. Instructions can cover:
- How and what to feed your pets
- Where to buy food if required
- Grooming instructions
- Training tips, including a list of commands
- Walking routes
- Who to call in emergencies?
- What medications are required
- Any behavioural issues
- Where your pets will sleep
The more details you write for your pet sitter, the easier their time and the happier your pets will be while you’re away.
Feeding instructions are essential as some pets will not eat unless prepared in a certain way. For example, if you feed a mix of dry and wet food or prepare a raw food diet.
Make sure you have enough food, litter, and cleaning supplies for your pets
Whenever you’re leaving your pets with other people, you need to be sure there is enough food. Work out how much food your pets will eat while you’re away and double that amount. Running out of food can put additional stress on your pet sitter as they may not know where you regularly buy it from or how much it will typically cost.
If you regularly have pet food delivered to your home, ensure your pet sitter knows what days to expect delivery and who to call if it does not arrive. It may be best to put in an extra order, so your pets have enough for your entire trip.
If you have cats and they use a litter box, you’ll need to top up on these supplies and their food. Cats can be incredibly picky with their litter, and even using the same style of litter but from a different brand can see them not using the litter at all.
While dogs don’t usually use a litter tray, you’ll need to have enough poop bags on hand, so your pet sitter doesn’t need to buy any. In most councils, poop bags must be carried (and used) while walking dogs. Make a note in your instructions for where poop bags can be disposed of (compost, household rubbish bin, etc.).
Leave some familiar items for your pets
Pets like to have familiar scents around, and you can help by leaving something behind that smells of you. You can leave a blanket or an old shirt behind near where your pet likes to sleep. Leaving items like these will help with separation anxiety and provide some comfort.
Stick to short goodbyes
When it comes time to leave your pet for a few days, it is best to do so without any fuss. Big cuddles and long goodbyes trigger many pets as they may feel they’ll never see you again. Dogs and cats have little sense of time, but they can be acutely aware of changes to the routine. Displays of affection before you walk out the door can be very concerning for them. A short goodbye and a pat are all that is required. You can save the affectionate cuddles and pats for when you return home!
What are the risks of leaving a pet at home while on holiday?
Leaving your pet at home when you go on vacation or even a short term stay can be the best option. If you place your pet into a boarding kennel, they need to adjust to new surroundings and not have you about, which can be very stressful!
However, leaving your pet at home with a pet sitter is not without risks. Your chosen sitter may not follow some of your rules, and you may not receive the same level of care you might when you use a boarding kennel.
Choosing the right sitter is vital to ensure your pets are looked after with the best care. At Happy House Sitters, we have an extensive list of suitable house and pet sitters. You can place an ad for free and receive applications from suitable sitters.
Can I leave my pets home alone?
Most pets can handle a few hours alone at home. But, anything over eight hours and dogs can become destructive due to boredom or stress. Cats have a higher tolerance for being left alone, but if they are left more than a day, their litter box can become unusable, and they may start using other items to do their business.
Leaving pets home alone for longer than 24hrs is not the mark of a responsible pet parent. It can result in excessive barking and other destructive behaviours. If a dog gets bored, it can attempt to escape your backyard, and you may end up with hefty fines from the council due to having a roaming pet.
There are many options available to take care of your pet for a few days. With current technology (and our gig economy), it is not hard to find someone to look after your animals for a few days.
What are the alternatives to leaving pets alone at home?
If you can’t find a good house and pet sitter, or you don’t want someone visiting your home, you have two pet care options.
Boarding kennels are an excellent way to have your pets cared for while on holiday. Modern boarding kennels can be luxurious, with some even having live feed cameras so you can watch your dog or cat during the day. However, these kennels are often expensive, and your pets will be mixing with other animals. If your pets do not have a suitable temperament, then they may be rejected for care at some boarding kennels.
Taking pets to a friend’s home
If you know someone who can care for your pets, taking them to your friend’s home is a good option. However, your pet may not handle the move well and living in a new environment can be stressful for some dogs. If your friend does not have animal training, they may not be suited to taking care of additional pets.
What information should you leave for a pet sitter?
When you choose a house and pet sitter, it is best to have a conversation and a meet and greet before you leave and take over their animal care duties. The pet sitter will ask some questions about the care of your pets, but it is recommended that you write detailed information about your pets. This information can include:
- The location of spare house keys and any alarm codes
- If there are any cameras recording – including nanny cam style cameras
- Emergency contact information
- If you’d like regular updates about your pets and where to send them
- Mailbox keys and what to do if bills arrive (usually for extended pet sitting)
- Vet contact information
- Pet insurance details
- Feeding guides, especially for pets requiring special diets
- Rules and training guides for your pets (e.g., if they’re not allowed in the bedrooms)
- Any medications that need to be taken
- Routine guides and your pet’s social skills (e.g., do they like other pets?)
- Cleaning guides
Using Happy House Sitters to find a good pet sitter
Happy House Sitters has an extensive list of suitable candidates to care for your pets. You sign up for our services and list your sitting job for free. Give yourself at least three months to find that perfect house and pet sitter, and remember to check the references of all candidates!