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Updated: Feb 14, 2022

November is the heaviest travel month of the year, with families coming together for the holiday season, combining with business travelers and vacationers. But if you’re like many pet owners,  you need to pack your bags in secret because your pooch gets stressed when you pull out the suitcase. While dogs may cry, or shiver and shake, your cat might react by jumping into your bags to let you know “I have no intention of being left behind.”

Our pets know how to make us feel guilty.

As if you weren’t concerned enough at the thought of leaving your “kids even though you’ve arranged for a pet sitter. Now your best friend is giving you the guilt trip.

You want to be absolutely certain when you are away that your furry friend gets the same kind of care and love you provide. Your pet sitter or daily dog walker should be a dedicated professional with extensive experience in handling the needs of your dog or cat and knowing what to do in case of an emergency.

Your pet sitter or dog walker will ask you a list of questions about caring for your best friend while you are gone, but just in case, here’s a checklist of everything you’ll want to review:

Where you will be: No doubt you have a mobile phone that you’ll be taking with you so you can receive calls and texts. Still it’s a good idea to provide your pet sitter with a contact number where you’ll be staying – with a friend or family member or at a hotel – so that there’s another way someone can leave a message. Also provide the day and time you plan to return.

Vet information: Let your vet know you’ll be gone. Give your pet sitter your vet’s phone number.

Emergency contact: In the event something happens, and you can’t be reached immediately, an emergency contact – friend, family member or neighbor – should have the authority to make a decision in your absence. A local emergency contact also is helpful if you are delayed in getting back.

Security code: Don’t just provide the code. Let your pet sitter try it out a few times to make sure they are comfortable keying it in.

Pet’s food: Go over detailed information on the brand, how often to feed and what amount and where you store it. Provide the name of the store where you get the food in case there’s a need to replenish it.

Pet supplies: Your pet sitter needs to know where you keep your dog’s leash and collar and the cat’s litter and carrier. About litter, advise how often to clean and change it.

Medication: Leave a list of the medications your furry friend needs with instructions on how and when to administer them.

Pet’s living area:  If your dog or cat doesn’t have the run of the house, let your pet sitter know what areas and/or furniture “off limits.”  Some dogs and cats have special areas where they hide or they may bolt when the door opens. Make sure your sitter knows about this.

Commands: Let your pet sitter or dog walker know about any commands your dog follows. (Not to suggest cats can’t be trained but let’s face it, a cat will come “if it feels like it.”)

Play time: If your furry friend has favorite toys or special games they like to play (Is there a cat who doesn’t like the fishing pole and a dog who doesn’t like the ball or chew toy?), make sure the pet sitter knows. Playing with your pet while you are gone will keep it from getting bored.

Our favorite cat toy is Go Cat’s “Da Bird,” (available in our Cat Department) which almost perfectly simulates the way a bird would behave. Dogs especially love toys that require people to interact with them, such a tug toys. Chew toys are important for dogs as they help prevent those canine teeth from destroying your furniture. Visit our Dog Department for a great selection of playtime options.

Ask your pet sitter to play with your pets while you’re gone to burn up excess energy. Contrary to myth, cats enjoy interactive toys like this Go Cat feather toy.

House instructions: Make sure your pet sitter knows where you keep cleaning supplies and extra trash bags. Go over instructions for taking in the newspaper and mail, watering plants and putting out the trash for garbage pick-up days. And it’s a good idea to let your pet sitter know where the fuse or breaker box is and to leave some additional fuses. Also provide thermostat instructions.

Dealing with Anxiety

Knowing that you’ve fully prepared your pet sitter will help reduce your own anxiety about leaving your loved ones alone. But some pets are naturally more anxious than others. For these pets, the stress of being “abandoned can bring out bad behaviors, such as destroying furniture or failing to use the litter box. Marshall Grain offers a choice of calming products that help relieve anxiety. They range from the wearable ThunderShirt, which gently applies constant pressure, similar to swaddling an infant, to homeopathic and herbal supplements. Your pet sitter should be able to administer these along with any medications your dog or cat might need, and can significantly reduce your pet’s anxiety level while you are away. 

It’s not easy to leave your dog or cat behind, even for a short time, but there’s peace of mind when you know your buddy will get the same quality of care as if you were home. 



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