By Cindi Lin, Becky’s Pet Care

There are many reasons to consider in-home care for your pets. In-home pet care is a professional service offered by many pet care providers as a care option for when pet owners can not be there to care for their pets. Pet owners may seek assistance for support while they are at work, in case of life changes, help with socialization, busy with kids’ games and practices and travel as well as for additional exercise and TLC for their pets. Deciding if in-home care is the best for your family can depend on the environment, the pet’s temperament, and the family’s needs. Let’s discuss the process of in-home care for pets in its entirety.

The main proponents for having in-home care include: safety and comfort, keeping a routine schedule with personalized care, peace of mind, security, and happiness of the pet. 

Safety and Comfort—When travel is involved, someone needs to care for the pets at home including food, water, cleanliness, and if applying medications if the pet takes routine medication. Instead of being relocated to a strange and unfamiliar place, pets get the reassurance of being at home while the pet parent is away. This goes for regular household pets like cats and dogs as well as small animals and other types of pets. 

Another factor in safety and comfort is stress. Some pets are sensitive to loud environments, with many other pets, where they may be lots of barking. Shy pets often enjoy their own homes where they are both comfortable and do not have to interact with pets they do not know. Another factor if, when staying at home, a pet has less chance for contracting an illness, bite or bad habits from interactions with other pets.

Some signs of stress include vomiting, diarrhea, a reduction of appetite, and even behavioral changes like fear and timidity. Staying at home can cause stress as well, but there is generally a reduction of it. Pets are comfortable at home and less stressed due to their familiar surroundings and smells of their owner. 

Routine Schedule and Personalized Care—Animals like routine schedules. It’s a common joke among cat and dog owners that pets do not understand daylight savings time or vacation time for that matter. Animals have an internal clock and they like having things when they are used to it. Why is that?

Dogs tend to be creatures of habit and enjoy having a routine. In general, following a consistent schedule promotes their overall health and happiness. When a dog has an established routine, they feel know what to expect in their lives which leads them to be less stressed, anxious, or depressed. 

How does in-home pet care help maintain routines? Clients direct the scheduling of pet care services and can give detailed instruction on their pet’s daily routines. For some cat owners, it may be simply to feed the cat a can of food, refresh the water, and scoop the litter and it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is. For other owners, the timeframe of when services occur matter a lot and they can request when the pet sitter arrives and the order of how things are done. The ability to create a specialized program of care that includes daily walks, TLC, Leaving the radio or TV on, grooming or brushing all in a one-on –one setting can provide extra comfort while the pet parents are away. Because pet owners control the scheduling of in-home pet sitting, they set the mood and tone of the overall pet care service. 

Peace of Mind—Using a professional pet care provider means the person providing the care is focused on the pet, knowledgeable about how to provide care and look for signs of stress, can administer necessary medications and can be scheduled as many times or as long as needed, as pet care is their profession. Professional pet care providers have a reputation to uphold and are licensed, bonded, and insured. When pets get in-home pet care, pet owners can rest assured that they are comfortable and safe. In-home pet care providers can also help with tasks like taking out the garbage, bringing in the mail, alternating lights and watering plants. 

Many pet care professionals also provide immediate, electronic records of each visit with your pet. These records provide pet parents, with a reassurance that their pet is in good care and also gives immediate peace of mind to know each time someone visits, so they know the care is consistent. 

Security—It is always a good idea to have someone check-in the home while away. Having a presence at home reduces the chances of a robbery. Burglars are deterred if they are watching a home and they see someone regularly attending to the household or a car in the driveway. During the holidays, pet sitters help reduce theft by bringing in any packages that are delivered to the door. 

Another part of security is that a pet sitter can also contact the homeowner if they notice a strange occurrence regarding the house itself, such as storm damage, temperature, lights, leaks and other issues.

There is also increased security in knowing if a pet care company hires employees who receive training or contractors who function independently. Employee based companies can provide a higher standard of care in many situations as they can train staff members in how to perform care, they can hold team members accountable for their work, issue performance reviews and also have back-up and emergency plans in place.

Happiness of the Pet—Most pets are happiest at home. After all, it’s where they live with their human family, so even when their family is away, typically the pet feels safe and secure when surrounded by familiar sights, smells, items and in their special hiding places. When a pet is happy while the owner is away, it maintains its overall health and behavior patterns. 

Is in-home pet care the solution for every pet owner while on travel?

Let’s revisit the main concerns of pet owners when planning their travel which include safety, security, and happiness of the pet. Every pet is different and although many professional pet sitters have training and qualifications for handling multiple scenarios and situations, it’s not a fit for all. The following situations should be taken into consideration when making a choice:

Adverse Health—If a pet has serious health issues, is on a number of substantially technical or extensive/time consuming to deliver medication or is undergoing any type of end of life care, options that include more around the clock type of supervision may be good to consider. A lot of pet sitters who provide in-home care are capable of basic medication application such as pilling, giving injections, and even sub-q fluids. 

Behavioral Issues—Sometimes, a pet is not copacetic with someone coming into their home. Cats and dogs can both be territorial. If your pet is aggressive or territorial, you may want to consider other options for care that do not put your pet on the defensive at their own home.

Separation Anxiety: When a pet has a condition such as separation anxiety, various scenarios may ensue. Sometimes, the separation anxiety can worsen if they are left alone in the home, but it can also worsen if they are moved out of the home for care. In this situation, the owner should try a short period of various types of different care options to decide which option is the best suited for their pet(s). In addition to trying various care options, various trial leave periods should also we tested. If a pet parent has more than one pet, there may be differing options that work better for each pet.

Energy Levels: Extremely energetic pets may require more exercise and attention than can be delivered in a few visits per day. It may be beneficial to explore additional options for care or add additional visits to a schedule for extra playtime and exercise for pets that need it to stay happy. If pets get bored at home, they could cause destruction to household items or injure themselves while they are alone, sometimes by eating objects or chewing excessively. 

Access to Home—Families who hire in-home pet care providers need a way to allow access into their home for the care to be provided. Access to the home can be through a security code, lockbox, key or other system. IN order for in home care to work, the pet parent must be comfortable sharing home access details with the company providing the care. If a person coming into your home is not a comfortable situation for you, finding a care situation outside of your home would be a better option.

In-Home care can be beneficial in many scenarios that may not be traditional:

Surgery or accident recovery: A lot of people who are at home but cannot care for their pets due to an injury such as a broken limb, have utilized in-home pet sitters to help clean the litter box, walk and feed the dog, and even cleaning cages for their small animals. 

Long-Term Illness: When a person has a long-term illness, pets can be of great comfort, but providing basic care may be a struggle. Pet parents with a long-term illness or going through chemo therapy or radiation for cancer or other treatments can utilize in-home care providers to help with their beloved pets. 

Pregnancy: Pregnant parents often require assistance with pet waste disposal, especially cat litter boxes. Additionally the demands of preparing for a newborn and in the months after a newborn enters a family can be very time-consuming and stressful on both the parents and the pets. An extra set of hands go a long way so that parents get to spend more time with their newborn and the pet gets the needed TLC and exercise, which helps them as they are adjusting to the new family dynamic.

Assisted Living Facility: Many seniors rely on in-home pet care for their companion animals. When residing in an assisted living facility, staff is available for human care, but not for pet care. However, pets provide much needed companionship to seniors living alone. In home pet care providers deliver the care needed so seniors have great companionship, without the stress and commitment of feeding, walking and pet waste disposal. 

In home care comes in many shapes and sizes. When you are selecting a care provider, here is a list of questions to ask:

• Do you service my address?

• What are your rates for one visit? What if I schedule more than 1 visit a day, is there a discount? How about if I schedule regular care every week?

• Do you charge for each pet?

• Do you charge early AM or Late PM fees?

• Can you administer medication? Is there a fee?

• Do you charge extra for weekends? Holidays?

• Are there any other fees?

• Can you come with last minute notice?

• Do you provide a record of time with my pet?

• How do you access my home?

• Are you licensed, bonded and insured?

• Do your staff members have training and experience?

• Are your staff members employees?

• What are your pack-up and emergency plans?

• What happens if the person scheduled to provide care can’t make it?

Hopefully this list and these details gives you a structure for asking good questions and making good decisions about the care that will be best for your pet. It is important to find a solution that is the best choice for your family and the needs of your pets to create the best situation from when you can’t be there to provide your pet’s care yourself.

Cindi Lin has worked for Becky’s Pet Care for over 5 years and is currently Marketing Assistant.  She has extensive knowledge in the pet care industry.  She loves all animals and has been a care provider for many types of pets, including dogs, cats and chickens.