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  • H&H Founder, Alexis

Checklist for Pet Owners Before Leaving Town

I might not know what I'm making for dinner tonight, but I do know a thing or two about being an #extrapetparent.

small, brown dog in a pearl collar with her nose looking up to the person taking the picture
Olive in her pearls!

I'm not alone in this role; we've had an influx of young, first-time pet owners with no children who take their pet parenting seriously, as they should. It's a new shift in a type of parenthood, and one that is positively impacting both lives of the pets and owners.


Being a pet sitter for over a decade, I have run into my fair share of emergencies or just plain bizarre, unpredictable situations. Would you like to hear about the time a bag of dog food was infested with ants? Or when the power was out when I came into a home, and it turned out to be an attempted burglary? Or when a Great Dane puppy ripped up two feather pillows and a beanie bag, and I came inside and feathers were flying and styrofoam beans were stuck all on the puppy??


Haha! If I didn't laugh, I might've lost my mind by now!


BUT, all of this is a good lesson that pets act up when owners are gone and essential things break as soon as you're out of cell service. Preparation is key. We can only require so much of pet owners to provide before we start service, of course, but here are some extra things I suggest when a pet parent wants to go the extra mile, or has some anxiety about leaving their animal family.


Call your vet to ask what they require so that someone besides an owner can make decisions regarding care.

This is mostly for your emergency vet, but I always recommend calling your primary vet, as well. Your pet sitter should have their own release for their business, but oftentimes, veterinary offices require one on their end, so no one runs into any issues if an owner cannot be contacted or there simply isn't time to do so. This is often referred to as "Permission to Treat" or "Vet Authorization." You have to provide the name of the sitter or whoever is watching your animal family and sign it for them to be able to provide any sort of care.


Leave a valid, non-expired form of payment with your emergency and primary vet.

In the same vein, having a form of payment set up with your vet takes away any unnecessary confusion for the vet and sitter if anything happens. Even if a sitter can contact the owner, some places may not take credit card information over the phone. It's just a good precaution.

Make sure your pet's food/meds/treats, etc. are stocked.

This may seem obvious, but sometimes it's hard to gauge how much food and meds your pet goes through when you haven't traveled in a while. I suggest having an overstock of all these things, and then no one will have to worry about running out.


Have an emergency contact written down who is not traveling with you.

Again, kind of self-explanatory, but if the person watching your pet is in an accident, falls ill, or just needs some support for anything that might come up, it's a good idea to have an emergency contact who doesn't live far, and is able to be contacted if you cannot be.


Check all batteries, automated systems, and keys!

This seems like a stretch, but I've had smart locks run out of juice in their battery so then they don't open! Also be sure to check thermostats to make sure they're working well, lockboxes and keys to make sure everything is in its place, security systems working, etc.


These are just a few things I like to recommend ON TOP OF our usual requirements for owners going out of town. It may seem like a lot, but when your pets are your family, it's important to cover all bases!


-Hand and Hound Pet Sitting team

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