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Pet sitting: How to make the match

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The prospect of leaving a beloved pet to enjoy a break-away can be daunting. Whether you are taking a short weekend trip or two-week holiday, you need to know that your pets are receiving the same level of love and attention that they are accustomed to with you at home.

You may be tempted to leave your animal at the home of a close friend or family member, but Caro Robson, owner and manager at Student.co, says this is not a good idea and that it is best for pets to stay in their own, familiar surroundings. Staying with a family member or friend may be distressing for the pet, especially if that person has pets of their own.

A really convenient solution is, of course, to enlist the services of a trusted pet sitter so that you can know your pet is at ease while you are enjoying your time away. “StudentCo pet sitters take care to keep your pets’ routine unchanged and keep your pets comfortable,” says Robson.

Leaving your pet with a stranger is still a distressing matter. According to Robson there are certain questions you should always ask when leaving your pet in the care of someone else for the first time, be it a professional sitter or friend. “Ask about their previous experiences, their own pets, and other involvement with animals.” Robson adds that it is important to talk about any special requirements you may have.

It is, of course, equally important that the pet the is comfortable with the temporary care solution. As the owner you know your pet and will clearly see when he is comfortable or not. Robson adds that, when using a Student.co pet sitter you are under no obligation to hire that specific sitter following an introductory meeting.

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If your animal has a disability or requires medication while you are away it is imperative that you leave clear instructions as to the medication or care that your pet will require. Things to note include the times, method and quantities of medication.

Robson emphasises that it is important that you discuss this with whomever will be watching your pet beforehand. Should the person not feel comfortable with the added responsibility it will give you time to make an alternative arrangement. “Most of our sitters will be comfortable as long as detailed instructions are given,” reassures Robson. The company can also assist when someone with more specialised experience is needed; they can, for example recommend a veterinary student with practical experience should that level of care be needed.

Be every sitter’s dream pet parentLab on holiday

It’s not easy leaving your pets behind, but there are some simple steps you can take to make sure the experience is as pleasant as possible for your pet.

  • Make sure the first introduction between the pet and the person you’ve chosen to watch him is at a time the pet is feeling relaxed. It is never a good idea to just introduce the pet to its temporary companion on the morning of your departure. If using Student.co, Robson recommends allowing the pets to be present when interviewing the potential sitter – this way you can see first-hand how your pet responds.

Pro Tip: Give the sitter some of your pet’s favourite treats. Nothing says “this is my new friend” like some biltong!

  • Give detailed instructions. It is definitely better to write this down, pen on paper. These instructions should include everything from your pets’ routines to home rules and emergency contact numbers.
  • It is always nice to leave some snacks or food if the sitter is sleeping over. Robson adds that, although this is not required, it is a nice touch to make the sitter feel welcome in your home.
  • Relax! And enjoy your holiday.


Mariette Steynberg is a qualified economist with a post-graduate diploma in financial planning. She has enjoyed working on holistic financial plans for clients in various stages of life, as well as a development economist assessing the socioeconomic impacts of new developments. When she is not working, Mariette enjoys parenting her quirky, delightful toddler girl. Cloth diapering, Eskimo kisses and the importance of reading to your child are all causes close to her heart. Mariette is passionate about financial education and hopes to use the experience she has gained to share knowledge with HomeTimes’ readership. Her goal is to provide information that is implementable by everyone.

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