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Rebecca Desfosse @RebeccaDesfosse

The Ultimate Dog Sitter Checklist

If you're leaving your pet with a sitter while on vacation, here's a checklist of things you need to do before you leave.

You wish you could bring your pets with you when you travel, but sometimes it just isn't possible. Hiring a pet sitter to stay at your home can help make the time you're away a little less stressful for your pet and ease your mind. To make sure everything goes smoothly while you're gone, there are some things you should do before you board your plane or load the car.

Here's the ultimate dog sitter checklist to make sure your pet (and your sitter) stay happy and calm during your trip:
 

Gather Up Essential Information
First, make a folder with some essential safety information for your dog sitter. That way, if an emergency pops up while you're gone, your pet sitter will have all the information she'll need on hand.

Here's what to include:

  • A pet care safety plan that lists emergency contacts, such as your veterinarian and local police, as well as a history of health concerns for your pet (see The Pet Sitter Safety Checklist for even more tips and hints).
  • A list of your pet's medications.
  • Your pet's immunization history.
  • Your pet's microchip information.
  • Pet insurance card.
  • Local government registration number.
  • A clear photo of your pet.
     

Fill In Your Sitter About Your Pet
Next, take the time to fill your pet sitter in about your dog's unique characteristics and routines. You know Fido best, so there's no one better to help prepare your sitter on how to care for him correctly.

Here are some things to mention:

  • Your dog's daily routines.
  • How and when to administer each of your pet's medications.
  • Your pet's daily food intake, including dry food, wet food and treats and where you keep them.
  • Your dog's favorite games and toys and where you keep them.
  • Your dog's personality -- does she get along with other animals and people? Does she have any anxieties (such as the mailman or motorcycles driving by)?
  • Your favorite walking spots and dog parks.
     

Stock Up on Supplies
You should also make sure you have enough pet supplies to last your four-legged friend the entire length of your trip (and a little longer in case you get held up):

  • Food (dry food, wet food and treats) and bowls.
  • Medications, including when and how much to give.
  • Toys.
  • Harnesses and leashes.
  • ID tags.
  • Grooming supplies, such as shampoo, brushes, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
  • Cleaning supplies, such as paper towels and an enzymatic cleanser.
  • Pet carrier, if applicable.
     

Prepare Your Dog and Your Home
Your last step should be to prepare your home for your departure, take care of any safety hazards and spend some one-on-one time with your pooch to get him ready for a few days without you:

  • Lock up your valuables and store them in a safe, hidden location.
  • Shut off any areas of the house where you don't want your dog to go.
  • Make sure all cleaning products, insect and weed killers, rat poison and medicines are out of your dog's reach.
  • Repair any holes in your fence and secure all gates.
  • Introduce your sitter to your pet and make sure they get along.
  • Give him plenty of affection and reassurance before you leave.
     

A little preparation can go a long way in making everyone feel more at ease when you leave your pet with a sitter. Use this dog sitter checklist to make sure you don't forget a single step. What's on your personal sitter checklist before you head on your trip? Tell us below.
 

Rebecca Desfosse is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, family and pet care topics.

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