Woman in hat gives dog a stick to play with

How to vet your pet sitter

You want your pet sitter to love your dog or cat just as much as you do. Here’s how to find the best candidate.

It’s always stressful asking someone to look after your pet when you have to be away. But there are steps you can take to ease your worries and make sure your cat or dog will get good, reliable care.

Start by thinking ahead. You may not need a sitter today, but most pet owners eventually want to go on vacation, or simply need some company for their kitty or extra help getting their dog outside for exercise and potty breaks. Don’t wait until the last minute to begin your search.

Do you expect a sitter to spend the night with your pets at your home, or bring your pets into their house? Maybe you just need them to come by for walks and feedings. It depends a lot on the type and personality of your pet.

Some dogs and cats get lonely and anxious when no one’s around, and may benefit from having someone in the house. Some dogs may enjoy their own “vacation” at your pet sitter’s house (cats, probably not so much). Other pets might be fine with a sitter stopping by a few times a day to check in and take care of their basic needs. When in doubt, get advice from your veterinarian on what type of sitter might work best.

Regardless of your sitter situation, it’s a good idea for your pet to be microchipped with a product such as HomeAgain® — and remember to register your chip and keep the information updated. Skittish dogs and cats may be tempted to bolt when their routine is changed, even under the watchful eye of the most careful pet sitter. Microchipping increases your chances of reuniting with your pet if she were to get lost.

Finding a good dog sitter

Personal recommendations can be the most valuable. Ask trusted friends, neighbors, and family members if they know someone experienced in caring for pets.1 It may turn out that one of them is available or can recommend a sitter they’ve used in the past. If they would hire that person again, that’s an endorsement worth checking out.

Your veterinarian and their support staff may also be helpful in recommending a sitter for your dog. Not only are they in contact with many pet parents, they also know your dog and can be helpful in suggesting a compatible sitter.

You can also search for a sitter through online pet-sitting services.1 Make sure to research any service you use to verify that it’s reputable and legitimate.

Interviewing a potential dog sitter

Ask your sitter to come to your home for an interview at a mutually convenient time2. Observe how the person interacts with your pet.1 Does she spend time petting and speaking to your dog? Will she allow him on her lap? Does she play gently – or is she a bit rough? Is she careful and patient when interacting with your cat?

If you’re satisfied, ask her to take the dog on a walk with you. How does she handle the leash? Does she observe traffic signals? Will she allow your dog to approach other dogs and people?

Questions to ask

Prepare a list of questions for your potential sitter to ask when you meet. Examples:

  • Do you currently have a dog, cat, or other pets? Tell me about them.
  • If you don’t have a pet now, when did you last care for one?
  • Can you commit to feeding my dog or cat X number of times a day at defined hours?
  • Will you give my dog X number of walks a day, the earliest at X hours and the latest at X hours?
  • What will you do in case of an emergency?
  • Are you willing and comfortable giving my pet medications if needed?
  • Can you supply the names of three references, including a veterinarian and someone you’ve worked with as a pet sitter before?

Follow up by calling references to ask their opinion of the sitter and describe their experience. If you are satisfied, it’s likely that this sitter will take almost as good care of your pet as you do. Now, go enjoy your vacation!


  1. How to choose a reliable pet sitter. The Humane Society of the United States. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/how-choose-reliable-pet-sitter
  2. What To Do With Dogs While On Vacation. All Pets Veterinary Hospital. https://www.allpetsvh.com/site/blog/2022/03/01/dog-vacation-boarding

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