Can Your Neighbor Make Your Dog Vomit? (And Other Reasons To Hire A Pet Sitter)

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If you were to walk next door and ask your neighbor if they could make your dog vomit, they would probably look at you like you were crazy. But believe it or not, it’s something I’ve had to do during my time as a professional pet sitter. If a dog eats something they shouldn’t (i.e. a sock, cell phone, chocolate, etc.), the best way to ensure the health of the dog is to induce vomiting. This is just one of the things a pet sitter knows how to do and your neighbor doesn’t.  With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are starting to plan for our travels. Yes, it may be more convenient for a friend to take care of your pets, but there are many reasons I suggest paying a professional to stay in your home to look after your furbabies.

Related: Doggy Daycare or Dog Walker?

Insurance: A qualified pet sitter will have a good insurance plan, and it’s important to ask this when looking into their services. The most obvious reason being the welfare of your pooch. If something were to happen to him, the insurance would cover the bill. The other reason is to protect your home. Most pet sitter insurance covers the property on which they are staying. You can relax and enjoy your vacation knowing your best friend and your house are safe.

First Aid Certified: It is important for the person watching your pet to be certified in Pet First Aid. In case of an emergency, you want someone there who knows what to do. A pet sitter who is certified can give the Puppy Heimlich, CPR, induce vomiting, bandage wounds and will notice symptoms before someone who is not. I’ve been a pet sitter professionally for five years and haven’t had to do most of these, but I know how. Also, we can administer medications, and any pet sitter should have a basic understanding of what needs to be given at the proper dose.

Related: Dog First Aid Kit

Bombproof Contract: “Hey, can you watch Spot while we’re away over break?” will not hold up in court. But a legal, binding contract will. A good contract should include these things:

  • The owner’s info
  • The pet’s info/schedule
  • Emergency contacts
  • Veterinarian information and a clause giving the pet sitter permission to take your dog to an emergency clinic if it’s after hours
  • Allergies/health information
  • Medications (if applicable)
  • Payment agreement
  • Scheduled dates and times
  • Liability clause

The pet sitter drafts the contract to protect themselves, but it also protects you. It is a contract that will hold up if something wasn’t done properly. I have heard horror stories of pet sitters not doing the job that was agreed upon, but a solid contract will protect everyone involved.

A Caregiver with “Disaster Brain”: We pay attention to detail. My favorite part about being a pet sitter, aside from the obvious puppy kisses, is when my clients tell me it looks like I was never there. I am sure to make sure the house is cleaner than when I got there, the pets are all well-cared for and happy, plants are watered, mail brought in, etc. I call my obsessive compulsiveness disaster brain, because in the back of my head I’m always calculating what could go wrong. “Will Buddy eat that box of cookies left on the counter because he’s stressed?” “Is that poinsettia out of reach?” “Did I leave a light on so it looks like someone’s home?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned around after leaving a job to double check the door was locked. And by the way, every single time it was. You want someone hyper-aware watching your dog. One sloppy mistake could lead to a huge issue. Plus, it’s our job so it’s scheduled into our day. We won’t forget because we ate too much turkey and fell asleep.

So yes, your friend might be familiar with Fido, but we know what’s best. At-home pet sitters make it possible for you to enjoy your get away without having to worry about your pets at home.

Rachel LeavyRachel Leavy lives in Rochester, New York with her dog, Maria, and her gecko, Nigel. She has loved animals all her life, and has owned her own dog training and walking company for five years.  When she’s not playing with puppies, she can usually be found writing short stories, riding horses or out at a play.