Do not hire a pet sitter before asking these questions - BC SPCA
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Do not hire a pet sitter before asking these questions

August 22, 2023

Dog guardians want to take their pets with them everywhere, but sometimes, that is simply not possible.

Maybe you are going out of town to a wedding, a family reunion, or on a trip overseas. Or maybe your workplace is not pet-friendly so your dog or cat must stay home alone during long workdays. In these situations, you may decide you want to hire a pet sitter.

Being away from your pet is hard enough, so you don’t want to also risk leaving them in the hands of the wrong person.

Gin-white dog with toy in mouth looking out the window

Pet sitting is unregulated, meaning anyone can decide to offer this service, regardless of their animal care knowledge and skills. But can just anyone provide reliable pet-sitting services that prioritize your pet’s well-being? Probably not.

A sitter will fulfill your role as a caring guardian when you are not there. To ensure your pet is in the hands of a knowledgeable and humane pet sitter, you must do your homework.

Take these steps to help find the right pet sitter:

  1. Decide which arrangement will work best for you and your pet (sitter staying in your home, daily visits to your home, or your pet going to the sitter’s home).
  2. Ask reliable sources like your vet or humane dog trainer for recommendations.
  3. Review the pet sitter’s website to gather information about any specialized training or certifications they hold, their experience and time in the business.
  4. Set up an interview with them so you can ask the right questions!
  5. Plan a meet-and-greet so your pet can meet the sitter.


Orange tabby cat Tony looking at camera with one leg up
Photo by Andres Vargas

General questions to ask a pet sitter

  • What methods will they use to handle and interact with your pet? Humane handling methods like using food, treats and play are recommended.
  • Have they had any training in understanding cat or dog body language?
  • What would they do in an emergency or if your pet gets injured?
  • How much time each day will they spend with your pet?
  • If you have a dog, how often will they walk your dog?
  • Are they insured?
  • If your pet requires medications, are they comfortable giving them?
  • Will they send you updates and photos?


A pet sitter will be caring for your pet when you are away. You and your pet should both feel comfortable with them.


Signs you are hiring the best pet sitter for your dog or cat

  • They offer or agree to a meet and greet.
  • They ask you about your pet’s typical behaviour, fears and favourite rewards.
  • They ask about your pet’s general health (e.g. vaccination and parasite prevention status) and if there are any health concerns, such as allergies or injuries or daily medication.
  • They ask about the walking equipment you use for your dog and do not suggest the use of electronic “shock,” prong, or choke collars.
  • They have a plan if unforeseen circumstances prevent them from checking on your pet.
  • They ask you plenty of questions and take detailed notes about your pet.
  • They willingly answer all your questions!


There are many skilled and caring dog and cat sitters who would look after your pet with the same love and care you do. Finding them is possible when you know what to ask!

If a sitter is not what you are looking for, here are other pet care options to consider.

For a list of questions specific to pet boarding, grooming, dog daycare and dog walking, visit BC SPCA AnimalKind site and check out what to ask when choosing pet services that prioritize the welfare of your pet.


puppies playing under a chair

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