When you leave your pet in the care of a sitter, you want to provide complete information. Not only does this make the pet sitter’s tasks easier, but it also should create less stress for your beloved pet. If the instructions are detailed enough, your instructions can even double as emergency or long-term care guidelines. You might need emergency or long-term directions if you are unexpectedly injured or otherwise detained.
Include these items in your pet care instructions:
General pet information.
Record each pet’s name, breed, size, appearance description, official registration number (if registered or listed with a registry), and general temperament description.
Veterinarian’s information and those authorized to make medical decisions for your pet.
Include your veterinarian’s name, address and phone number. Denote the name, address and contact information for those who are allowed to make medical decisions for your pet, too. This could be for something as simple as needing antibiotics or needing stitches while you are away or for deciding a more serious treatment.
Medication and preventative information.
List the pet’s medication, dose and location of each medicine. These items could include glucosamine for joints, daily pain meds or even fish oil supplements. List heartworm and flea & tick preventative and where you record the dates last provided (i.e. perhaps you record this on a calendar on your fridge door).
Record the location of where food is kept, the brand of the food, the amount to be fed at each meal and the normal meal schedule. Label food bins, especially if you have multiple pets on different types of food. Don’t forget to list any treats or extras that are allowed, such as dental chews or snacks. If your pet has allergies or food sensitivities, highlight those issues and denote that your pet should not eat anything that isn’t on the list of approved foods.
List the amount and type of exercise and other daily protocols. Is your pet used to a 5 minute belly rub each day? What is your pet’s sleep routine? Even though your pet is adaptable, having this information may help a pet sitter or long-term care provider make your pet feel more at ease.
Does your pet have any special needs or exercise restrictions? Does your pet have hearing loss, vision impairment or allergy? Do you know that your pet doesn’t tolerate certain antibiotics well? Is your pet scared of the vacuum? Does your pet need to be covered up with a special blanket at night? Add that information, too.
Home alone instructions.
Do you have special instructions for how to leave your pet when your pet is home alone? Should the pet be baby-gated, crated or kept in a certain room? Should your senior pet only be allowed one cup of water at night to prevent potty accidents? Should multi-pet households separate the pets when the pets are home alone? Add those items as needed.
If the list is specifically for short-term pet sitting, list your address during travel and your alternate contact information (i.e. the phone number of the person with whom you are staying) in case your cell phone is lost or damaged. Also list your authorized and emergency short and long term care providers for the pets; this should include the person’s name, address, email, phone number and relationship to you. Consider listing at least 2-3 emergency caregivers or even permanent caregivers.
Create a list of command words that your pet knows and what behavior is expected for each command.
Review and update these instructions at least once annually. Finally, keep a copy somewhere handy, such as near the pet food or on the fridge. You want anyone helping with your pets unexpectedly to be able to easily find these instructions.