During the holidays,  travel can be a given for many of us and so is  finding the right care for our pets that we must leave at home can be very stressful for both people and pets.   According to pedmd.com’s Yahaira Cespedes' Top Ten Tips on Finding a Qualified and Professional Pet Sitter, the following items need to be considered.

#1 Level of Service

Pet sitting is as varied as your needs may be. Some services may include grooming along with live-in care, while others may offer play time, outdoor exercise, and training. Some pet sitters may also combine their services with nutritional regimens such as weight loss. Once you and your pet have determined which is the best level of care, a bit of research will have you finding the best fit for your pet care needs in no time!

#2 Ask About Emergency Plans

Accidents and mishaps happen, and you’ll want to select a person who is experienced and resourceful enough to protect your pet as well as you would. For older and special needs pets, the potential sitter should document medication, feeding, and other health-related cycles. A comprehensive veterinary and/or partner pet sitter network should provide help if needed.

#3 Let Your Pet Give Them a Try-out

Even after you’ve selected a potential pet sitter who has met all of your criteria, there are equally important members of your family who have yet to approve them – your pets! A qualified pet sitter should agree to your request to have them visit your home so you can watch them interact with your pet. What better way to feel at ease than knowing your pets approve of your choice!

#4 Double-check the Contract

The prospective pet sitter will have complete access to your home and personal belongings, as well as being entrusted to care for your pet. Take special care when studying the contract to ensure that all the discussed and agreed-upon services have been included.

#5 Find a Pet Sitter Affiliated with a Reputable Boarding Facility

Although this list focuses on selecting qualified individuals, an established pet sitter will be able to provide a back up housing plan should they suddenly be rendered unable to care for your pet. A reputable boarding facility will have equally stringent standards for working with qualified pet sitters. After all, their reputation depends on their quality of care.

#6 Select a Certified Pet Sitter

As an alternative to personal recommendations, the HSUS suggests contacting two national agencies dedicated to training and certifying pet sitters: The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), or Pet Sitters International (PSI). PSI even has a “Pet Sitter of the Year” award for excellence, which has been granted since 1995.

#7 Ask for References

A qualified and responsible pet sitter will have a list of both regular clients and pet care services that would be willing to vouch for their professionalism. When provided with references to speak with, be sure to ask questions that cater specifically to your expectations and your pet’s needs.

#8 Compile a Questionnaire

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has a comprehensive list of qualifications you can use to screen potential pet sitters. Among the pertinent questions to include is: Can they provide written proof of commercial liability insurance coverage to cover accidents and negligence? Are they bonded to protect against theft by a pet sitter or  employees?

#9 Word of Mouth

Let’s face it, anyone can look good on paper and even display impressive credentials selling their expertise at pet sitting. However a qualified pet sitter will come recommended by either a fellow pet parent or a trusted pet trainer who has experience leaving their non-human loved ones in said care.

#10 Ask Your Veterinarian

Any pet sitter worth their salt will have a support network. What better place to get a recommendation than your veterinarian? Especially for older and special needs pets, a pet sitter who has an established professional relationship with your pet’s doctor will provide you with peace of mind should there be a medical emergency.