Planning a vacation and need to find accommodations for your pets? Some people are lucky enough to have a family member or friend volunteer to watch their pets with payment usually being food. However, others must rely on different pet care sources. And so, if you opt for out-of-family pet care, be sure to keep in mind the following questions to ask when hiring a professional pet sitter or taking your pet to a boarding kennel. Although it’s important to know how much a pet sitter or kennel is going to cost, there are more pertinent questions to ask that relate personally to the caregiver and to your pet.

Questions to Ask a Pet Sitter

1. Are you insured? 

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A professional pet sitter will have a form of liability insurance to cover any unforeseen damage done to your home or pet. This means that if there’s damage while the pet sitter is in charge, then their insurance will cover your pet and property.

2. Do you have references I can contact? Clean background check?

Since our pets are furry family members, we MUST know that they are in the hands of the sweetest, most wonderful animal lover there is. A pro will have these documents to give you at the interview.

3. What kinds of pets do you pet sit?

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There are more pets than just dogs and cats. You may have a rabbit, guinea pig, chicken, turtle, pot-bellied pig, or an indoor bird that needs watching.

4. How often and how long are your home visits?

A visit schedule is important. How often will they come visit and for how long? The average visit time is 30 minutes, but this may need to be extended if there are multiple pets or if a pet has medical needs that require additional time. Ask if they do dog walks!

5. What is your plan in the event of a pet or home emergency?

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The sitter should have an emergency plan of their own like having a back up sitter in case they are unable to come for a scheduled care visit, or if something happens to the house like fire or flood. Ask if they are trained in pet CPR. Give your pet sitter a list of emergency contacts such as the vet in the event of a pet related medical emergency and a family member.

Questions to Ask a Kennel

1. Is the kennel certified?

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Since it is not mandatory for kennels to be certified, if you prefer a certified kennel, you will need to ask the facility to see a Voluntary Facilities Accreditation (VFA) certificate. This voluntary certification process is established by the Pet Care Services Association (PCSA) with members of the PCSA committing to high quality pet care and following a code of ethics.

2. Are all animals in the kennel required to have certain immunizations?

State to state, county to county, each kennel may vary on immunization requirements. Know this ahead of time in case you need to get fido or fluffy a new shot or two.

3. What are the kenneling conditions? Ask for a tour!

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  • Are the kennels inside or outside?
  • How often are pets let out to play?
  • How many other pets will my pet’s attendant be in charge of? 100 percent supervision?
  • How often are the individual kennel spaces and food/water bowls cleaned?
  • Do you have onsite or nearby veterinary services?
  • Is there a webcam available so I can check in on my pet any time of the day?

4. Do you provide playtime activities? For dogs, are there scheduled walk times?

You may have a high energy dog that needs at least a couple hours of exercise a day. Find out if play/exercise activities are offered and if possible, request scheduled dog walks. Make sure to send your pet’s favorite toys so they have something familiar to play with.

5. Can the kennel accommodate a pet with medical needs? Medications? Special food? 

It’s important to know if the staff watching your pet knows how to care for their specific medical needs. If your dog is on a diet or must eat a certain food, be sure to leave detailed instructions and a way to directly contact you in an emergency.

Ultimately, when deciding to either go with a pet sitter or a boarding kennel, keep in mind that your pet may not do well away from the familiarity of their home. In this case, a pet sitter may be your best option. If your dog or cat gets along well with strangers and loves to socialize, then a kennel could be a good option.

Image Source: Dallas Reeves / Flickr