We all love our pets as members of the family. We feed them quality food, exercise them and ensure they get all their vaccinations so we have the healthiest, happiest pets. We should also take that much care when choosing someone to watch over our fur-kids while we cannot. Trusting the teenager next door or an on-demand phone app to care for your pet could be a decision you end up regretting.
As a pet care professional who has been in the industry for over 13 years and a pet owner, I am hyper-aware of all the things that can happen to your furry family member while away. My 13-year-old chocolate lab developed a serious breathing condition while I was overseas for two weeks. Thankfully, I had a professional pet sitter and she was able to recognize its seriousness, followed a care protocol and was able to rush him to the vet to get the care he needed. He ended up being diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis and had surgery to repair the condition a few months later. Up until that point he had shown no signs whatsoever that he was ill. It’s situations like that that it’s so very important to provide your pets with the care of a professional.
Let’s start with the most important reason to hire a professional - knowledge. A professional has seen it all and has dealt with it all. They are proficient in poop. Poop is the great indicator - whether it be the lack thereof or the scary runny explosive kind, there’s a difference in what needs a veterinarian’s attention, and what needs chicken and rice. We pay attention to minor details and check for any abrasions, bumps or bites. We know the difference between a backwards sneeze and an inability to breathe. We know seizures and how to deal with them. We know allergy symptoms and how they differ from a respiratory issue. We know what to do in case of a snake bite or when an animal is bleeding, limping or otherwise incapacitated. These are all scenarios that professionals have dealt with regularly and will not panic should they encounter one. These things do happen, so be sure you have someone who will know what to do in an emergency.
Professionals have a genuine love of animals. No one gets into pet care to make money. It’s long hours, can be stressful and is hard work. Anyone who’s decided to make a living at it and sticks with it, does it because they love what they do. We frequently go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that everyone is happy, comfortable and getting everything and more that they need. Fresh water is something that a professional will check every single visit but can be totally neglected by someone who’s not knowledgeable or generally disinterested in taking the best care possible. If a pet isn’t eating we will sit there and hand feed them kibble by kibble if necessary because we care about their health and comfort. We monitor stress levels and will put in extra miles on a walk or spend more time on a soothing belly rub to try and bring down those levels. We keep owners informed about everything – from poop to paws – to help bring down their stress levels too. The bottom line is that someone who is a pet care professional is devoted to your pets and will treat them like they do their own.
A pet care professional is invested. This is their livelihood and they have a vested interest in it succeeding. They’ve spent money on insurance, bonding and licensing. They’ve become Pet CPR/First-Aid certified and have (hopefully) joined a professional pet care agency such as NAAPS to keep up to date on all the latest information in the pet care world. They’ve made a commitment and when they say they’ll be at your house for the first visit of the day at 6am, they’ll be there – their business depends on your ability to trust them. If they do a good job and have earned your trust, you’re far more likely to recommend them to others.
A pet care professional is just that – professional. So, do yourself and your furry family members a favor and hire a knowledgeable and responsible professional. It’s going to cost more than the teenager next door but the peace of mind that comes with it will be priceless.