Securing the Best Pet Sitter
Pet parents naturally want the best care possible for their pets, especially when they need to be away for days at a time. When you hire a pet sitter, your pet’s welfare is essentially in the hands of another person, one who may or may not have your pet’s best interests at heart. And as much as we wish they could, our pets can’t verbally tell us how well (or not) they were cared for. However, there are some clues to look for that can indicate if your pet has been properly taken care of in your absence. While some of these tips seem obvious, overlooking them can lead to insufficient care going on longer than it should.
Signs of Mistreatment
Take a look at your pet’s feeding area. What is the condition of your pet’s water bowl? A cause for concern is water that is dirty or, even worse, completely dried up. Even if the water bowl has run dry from an accident like your pet knocking it over, an attentive sitter should be checking the water level daily at a minimum, and twice a day if the weather is especially hot. Daily water changes should not have to be requested.
Check the food bowl, too. Are there bugs in it? Has dry food gotten wet and left to putrefy, or canned food gone crusty on the plate? A pet sitter who can’t stay on top of the minimal is someone who should be shown the door.
Do you see or smell any evidence of “accidents?” Not so obvious indications that your dog was taken out too late can include a scratched up door, suspicious carpet stains, or a lingering odor. On an extended basis, your dog can develop bladder infections from trying to hold his urine for too long, and possibly even behavioral issues regarding his potty practices.
If you are a cat owner, does the litter box show signs of neglect? Too infrequent or inadequate cleanings may cause your kitty to seek out other places to relieve himself, or refuse to use his box at all. Bad litter box habits acquired by cats are especially difficult to break and are best avoided in the first place.
What about the rest of the house? Is your once-full refrigerator now bare? Do you smell cigarette smoke? Are your items moved around, or do they show signs of tampering? Is anything, especially valuables, missing? Have your neighbors reported unacceptable behavior, such as strangers being admitted into your home?
Even if your pet sitter is providing overnight visits, appropriate behavior includes respect for your property, asking before consuming your food, leaving your personal items alone, and not bringing anyone else into your home. A pet sitter who does not inherently know these things should not have the responsibility of caring for your pet.
Does your pet have unexplained injuries? Signs to look for include a limp, cuts, bleeding, swelling of the limbs or around the face, and a general malaise. While occasional injuries to outdoor pets are not that unusual, if an indoor cat that never goes outside suddenly gets hurt, it is a cause for alarm. If your sitter does not tell you that your pet is injured, nor offer a reasonable explanation for how it occurred, he or she could be abusing your pet. Another indication of potential abuse is when your pet is afraid of the sitter. Uncharacteristic shows of open hostility and aggression towards a sitter means it’s time to find another pet sitter.
What to Do with Bad Pet Sitters
Making the decision to dismiss your pet sitter can be awkward and difficult, especially if your reason for doing so is nothing more than a sneaking suspicion. Regardless of whether the cause for dismissal is obvious or imagined, your pet’s health and well-being are dependent on your good judgment. Neglecting to take necessary action can have a far-reaching impact on both your psyche (i.e., guilt) and on the happiness and security of your pet. No one said being a pet parent was easy.