To keep your pet happy, healthy and comfortable while you’re away, you’ll need to leave a detailed set of instructions for your pet sitter. This guide will help you make sure you’ve covered everything.

Write it Down

Perhaps the best way to ensure your pet will be properly taken care of is to leave detailed, written instructions. It’s best if you take the time to discuss these instructions with your sitter, allowing him or her to ask questions. Be sure to leave a copy of these instructions in plain view, before you leave on your trip. Here’s a list of the basic information you’ll want to cover in your instructions.

Confirm the dates of coverage. You’ll want to let your sitter know exactly when you leave and return from your trip, how many visits will be needed, and the preferred time for visits.

Detail your pet’s normal care and activities. Give you sitter clear instructions regarding every aspect of your pet’s care, including feeding, medicating, cleaning up, waste disposal, as well as walks or other activities your pet enjoys.

Include some personality info. Remember to list any of your pet’s pertinent idiosyncrasies in your instructions. Does you pet hide from strangers? Where does she hide? Does your pet try to bolt as soon as you open the door? Does she bite? This will help your sitter determine whether your pet is behaving abnormally.

Ask your sitter to contact you. If it will help you feel more at ease, ask your sitter to call or email you to let you know how things are going. You may also want to ask that your sitter give your pet a quick once-over every day – checking your pet’s eyes, paws, etc. to see if there is anything obviously amiss — an empty food bowl is not enough to confirm that your pet is okay.

Exchange Contact Information

It’s extremely important that you leave good, thorough contact information for your sitter. Include you cell phone number, land-line number(s) of the place you’ll be staying, as well as an email address you check regularly. Not only will this allow your sitter to reach you in case of an emergency, but also with regular run-of-the-mill questions about your pet’s care.

In addition to your contact info, it’s also important to leave your veterinarian’s name and phone number, as well as the name and number of an emergency contact. It’s also a good idea to contact your vet before you go out of town, letting them know what kinds of emergency care to provide if they’re unable to reach you. Also, don’t forget to let your sitter know where your pet’s leash or carrier is, in case of an emergency.

Along with your own house key, it’s a good idea to leave the contact information of a friend or neighbor who has a spare key, just in case.

Unless it’s an emergency, be sure to limit your calls to your sitter’s normal business hours. Be especially considerate of sitters who operate their business from their homes, making sure you check the differences in time zones when you call.

Map Out Where Important Items Are

Show your sitter where you keep your pet’s food, medicine, treats, bowls, toys, carriers, leashes, litterbox, and waste bags. In addition, it’s a good idea to show your sitter where to find basic cleaning items like your vacuum, mop, broom, dustpan, trash bags, etc. You may also want to show your sitter where to find your breaker-box or fuse-box, as well as extra fuses.

If there are any areas of the house that are off-limits for either your pet or your sitter, let them know. If you’ve asked your sitter to fulfill any other household duties, such as get the mail or take out the trash, leave instructions.

Plan for Any Unexpected Delays

Ask your sitter to hold on to your house key until you’ve actually returned home. This way, someone has access to your pet in case your flight gets delayed or your plans experience some other unforeseen alteration.

If your return is delayed, contact your sitter. If your sitter can’t take care of your pet for the additional time, ask if they can recommend a back-up sitter. Finally, let your sitter know once you’ve returned home.

Contact these Organizations for Help

If you’re having trouble locating a sitter, or you’re simply curious to learn more about what types of service are available, check with one of the following organizations.

National Association of Professional Pet Sitters

Pet Sitters International


This article was reviewed by a Veterinarian.