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How to Find a Pro Pet Sitter to Take Care of Your Best Friend While You’re Gone​

What to do when no pets are allowed

spinner image woman smiling at dog and cat laying on the floor
Dann Tardif/Getty Images

The recent increase in pet-friendly lodging options has made vacationing with furry family members easier than ever. 

But what if your destination doesn’t accept pets? 

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It’s stressful to think about leaving your pet with someone else — let alone someone you barely know — but hiring a pet sitter to come to your house has its perks. “When you leave your pet at home, they’re in a place that is comfortable,” says Amy Sparrow, president of the nonprofit National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS). “Their sights are there. Their smells are there.”

You can also tailor the visits to your needs and pet’s routine including extra visits, playtime and walks, and some pet sitters will perform household tasks such as checking the mailbox.

Sparrow notes that not all pet sitters offer the same level of care. Pet sitters who belong to a professional association like NAPPS are typically bonded, licensed (if required locally) and insured. Sitters who are NAPPS certified have animal first aid training including CPR.

The best way to find a professional pet sitter is to ask your veterinarian for a recommendation or search for one in your area through websites like NAPPS or Pet Sitters International (PSI). Both associations have a search feature to connect pet parents to members so you can see the services and rates before moving forward.  

Once you’ve selected possible options, Sparrow suggests setting up an in-person interview for more information. PSI and NAPPS post sample questions online, including what a routine visit entails and how the pet sitter handles emergencies. Ask for references, and discuss rates and accepted payment methods. Other sample questions may include:

Sparrow says it’s a red flag if you are the only one asking the questions. “Are they asking for your vet’s contact information? Or, for an emergency contact for you?”

Sparrow says part of the job for a pet sitter is to anticipate everything that could go wrong while someone is gone and be prepared to handle the situation. A pet sitter who doesn’t seem concerned about these types of details may not be the best person for the job.

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This is also the time for you to see how the potential sitter interacts with your pet. If all goes well and references check out, the next step is to provide the information to the sitter caring for your pet:

  • Background on your pet’s history and habits
  • A list of any medications
  • Feeding schedule 
  • Exercise routine
  • Communication plan
  • Emergency numbers 

Popular sites such as Bark and Rover are also an option, and pet sitters may be verified by background or identity checks, but it’s not a guarantee (Rover, for example, puts a badge on the profile to signal a background check).  

Taking the time to prepare questions and meet with a pro sitter can help ease anxiety for everyone involved. Ultimately, you want what’s best for your pet, says Lisa Kang, who operates Walk and Wag Pet Sitting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “You want your pet to have a good experience while you’re gone. They’re your family members.”

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