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Written by: PoshMom Editorial Team

Of course your fur babies are a majorly important member of the family. In fact, there are some moments they may even rate higher than some of your humans. Just kidding (are we?). Still, there are some times when your dogs, cats and other snuggle buddies can’t be with the rest of the gang, like on family vacations for one. Sure, pets are fairly easy to care for when everyone is home. Yet for someone else to take over the care requires planning and particulars to ensure their health and happiness. Prepping to leave them home with a pet sitter is something to be mindful of, especially with the holiday travel season coming up—among all the other planning details to tick off your to-do list.

Here, a pet sitter checklist to help you get your fur baby ready for you to go away—and guarantee a happy dance greets you upon your return.

Find a dependable and loving pet sitter by networking

There are pet sitters who will stay at your place while you’re away and those who take pets into their own home. Which to choose depends on you and your pet’s comfort. Either way, look for recs for pet sitters from friends and family, through a veterinarian or doggie daycare. You can also use apps who screen their members, like Rover or Wag. Set up a time to meet the pet sitter and to have your pet meet them too–either at your place or theirs, depending on where your pet’s vacay from you will happen. If they won’t take time to do that, cross them off quick! Explain your pet’s personality and see how they react to the info and your pet with this knowledge. Ask for (and contact) references, whether they watch other pets (with yours) and what their schedule for other jobs are during the day. Once you’ve decided who gets the pleasure of sitting for your pet, leave them with a copy of the house key, alarm codes and your wifi login as well.

Leave key contact information—like who to see in an emergency

Write out your veterinarian’s contact info, including name, telephone number and address. The address is key in the event your furry one needs a ride there—the pet sitter can just map it quickly and head over. Other info, names and phone numbers helpful to add to the list include pet insurance (make sure your vet has a credit card on file), after-hours pet hospital, any neighbors or nearby family members who can access the house/care for your pet in an emergency. Smart too to include other dog walkers or pet sitters just in case backup is needed. And, of course, leave your names and cell phone numbers for any questions, to check in and, of course, to get a daily dose of photos!

Share the feeding schedule

Be specific on the pet sitter checklist with the type and amount of food your pet eats, including any supplements and wet/dry mixes. Also, if your finicky pet needs a special treat topper for them to actually eat and not leave the meal over. Leave all together in a central spot along with the measuring “scoop” and the instructions. It may sound helicopter mom to do so, but include the time (s) your pet eats. There’s no reason they should be off schedule because you’re frolicking about. And treats. Keep those handy as well and share the per-day limit (no matter how much your pet might try to convince them differently).

Include instructions for medicine

Whether your pet takes regular meds or got sick just before you left (don’t all kids?), leave super clear directions on when and how to distribute their meds. Are they chewable or do they only take when hidden in cheese or a peanut butter pocket? Do they need to take with or without food? How many times per day. This is not something you want to leave for someone else to figure out on their own.

Be clear about bathroom breaks

If your pet needs to relieve themselves outdoors, let the pet sitter know the specifics. What time do they go out first in the morning and the last time before bed? Is your yard secured—meaning can they be left outside or do they need to be accompanied on a leash? Is it best to walk the dogs around the neighborhood? If so, are there other dogs around that your dog is friendly with or for that matter not friendly with? Let them know your dog’s sign when they need/want to go out—do they sit by the door, jump on it, ring a bell that dangles from the handle? And let them know where cleanup bags are kept. Yes, you can ask them to be on poop patrol. It’s an expected part of the position, akin to babysitters and dirty diapers. Side note: Tell the pet sitter where cleaning supplies are in the event that an accident happens.

Share their favorite habits list

Super important to include on the pet sitter checklist: more about your pet’s personality as well as fave toys, playtime activities, bedtime and more. Pets are quite the creatures of habit and sticking to what they know will help them feel safe when you are away. Ensure that the pet sitter is aware of where they like to sleep, whether in a pet bed, snuggling with a human or in their crate. And if they have a favorite blanket, towel or toy to sleep with. They should know their walking schedule and whether they like to go to the park and chase a ball or frisbee. Do you give them a puppy massage after a walk or play calming music during the day or when you have to step out? And take care of their anxiety (or at least quell it a bit) by leaving yours, and your whole family’s, worn clothes around so your scent reassures their super powerful noses that you will be back!

It is helpful to have this pet sitter checklist knocked out before you meet with the person who will be watching your dog. This way you can go over it when you meet, then leave it with them to peruse to see if there are any questions. Then know you’ve done a good mommy job with no need to worry—have a blast on vacay and come home to a four-legged happy dance.

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