How to Create A Pet Sitting Kit
When I was much, much younger I did a lot of babysitting for neighbors. It was good money, I didn’t have to worry about taxes, and I was pretty good at it. But, there is a lot of competition in babysitting – just as there is now a lot of competition in pet sitting. To get the jobs, I had to prove I was the best, the most reliable, the most trustworthy and the most likable.
To remain competitive, I created a “babysitting kit” to take along on the job. This was essentially a kit of everything I needed to keep kids happy and content. It consisted of things like glue, dull scissors, construction paper, games, and other things along those lines. I think it was one of the reasons I was called back so many times.
As I grew older and my patience grew more thin, my babysitting days morphed into pet sitting days. Like my young days of watching kids, I still carried a pet sitting kit, and I want to talk about what that means.
When I was pet-sitting for a living, I had many diff tent types of animals that I cared for. From diabetic cats, who needed daily injections of insulin to hyperactive dogs who needed lots of exercise, there were different tools for different jobs.
My kit has changed over the years, but on the rare occasion I do watch other people’s pets, I still like to show up with an action plan. Sometimes this is as simple as interactive toys, other times it includes calming supplements and treats. Remember you must have the permission of owners to work with anything the pets are not already using – this is particularly true for any type of calming aids, holistic or not. I always introduce my ideas and suggestions during our initial meeting when I first meet the pets and their parents. I also make sure the owners have signed a series of documents that includes a “permission to treat” contract in the event of an emergency.
While I have several different kits for use in different households, I want to talk about our “general” kit first.
This is a catch-all kit for both dogs and cats. It includes a variety of dog and cat toys, first aid supplies, and items for cleanups. One of my favorite ways to pack all this away is in a paw print themed doggy bag. The one in the picture above is from Doggy Baggage and it’s our absolute favorite! The pockets allow us to organize everything the way we want, it looks very classy and it offers easy access to products.
One of the most important things I keep in both my car and the person’s home is an emergency card. This is a card saying that I have pets at home, that I am caring for others pets and the contact information for my emergency contact. Everyone should carry this no matter if they pet sit or not. If you’re in an accident, have a medical emergency, or are otherwise incapacitated, your pets and those you care for are still reliant on you. Be sure you keep them information on them available.
At the very least, you should have these five forms on hand at all times, for each client:
- Client Info: Includes name and address of client, emergency contact (neighbor),
- Pet info: this should include a recent picture, vaccination history, medical history, and anything that you should know about (behavioral or physical).
- Emergency Card and Contact: In case anything happens to you while you’re caring for a pet.
- Vet Release: Most veterinarians require this form in order to treat any pet that is not yours. This also frees you from financial obligation in the event a client doesn’t pay. Always have two veterinarians listed: One for emergency and one for “regular” visits.
- Service Agreement: Detail the specifics of what you will be doing. Usually pet sitters are also responsible for keeping plants alive, bringing mail in, and so on. Be specific.
- Liability Release: If anything happens while you’re watching a house, you need to be cleared from it. Of course, if it’s your fault and you neglect the animal, you need to go to a special place in hell. But, if there a basement floods or a fire breaks out and it’s not because of anything you did, please make sure your covered.
[heading style=”2″ color=”#006666″ style_color=”#006666″]Here’s a list of the things I keep in my kit.[/heading]
Calming Shirt: This is in case of thunderstorms or the general stress that goes along with an owner leaving. Keep a variety of sizes available, and at least keep one for cats and one for dogs.
Calming Aids: I use Adaptil Spray (formally D.A.P Spray) for dogs, Rescue Remedy for the water supply, and Feliway Behavior Modifier Spray for cats. For days when I know thunderstorms or fireworks will be in the background, I always keep LICKS Zen for Dogs on hand (they also have one that’s just as effective for cats). This is a quick little all-natural supplement that is not only great for your dogs and cats, but will calm them down naturally in a matter of an hour or less. The effects last up to eight hours.
Natural. Low-calorie Treats: Here is a list of my favorite treats from The Honest Kitchen (which is what I feed my dogs). They are low-cal (some less than a calorie each), dogs and cats both love them (especially the Quickies), and they are super easy to carry.
Collapsible bowls: These take up very little room in your kit and are great to carry around in your car in the event you stumble upon a stray or need to offer water while on the road. (We love the Dexas Popware for Pets Travel cups and the SturdiBox Foldable Water Tight Box – they are perfect for travel and the large SturdiBox can even act as an emergency litter box)
Quick Clean: You would be surprised at how many people forget to stock up on supplies before they leave. For this reason, I always carry a small camping-style roll of paper towel (try EZ Towel) and a small selection of cleaning products. Pets become easily stressed when their owners leave, so be prepared for an occasional mess.
- General all-natural cleaner: we LOVE the Ava Anderson Non-Toxic line of all-natural cleaners. It works just as well as other cleaners but is completely safe for people and pets.
- Zero Odor (keeps house smelling fresh without leaving a scent behind)
- Urine Off Odor and Stain Remover for Cats (for cats who spray walls or concrete – this should be bought in bulk!)
- Paper towel
Toys: Different pets prefer different types of toys. The important thing is that you find what works and keep a selection avaialble. Here are a few of our favorites that even the wildest of animals will respond too:
- Neko Flies Wand Toy with Interchangeable Lures: Watch it in action here, buy it here. Even my feral cats adore this toy – and that’s the biggest recommendation I can give…
- Hear Doggy Set of 3 Dog Toys Ultrasonic Hear, Doggy! toys from Quaker Pet Group: These are some of our favorites and they won’t annoy you with the constant squeaking because it’s a toy only dogs can here.
- Ball: Always carry a few tennis balls or rolling toys for your favorite pooch. You really can’t go wrong!
- Catnip Toy: Many cats don’t respond to catnip, so I choose a toy that has both catnip, sounds and is a plush toy with a feather or some other type of play toy. One of my favorites is the Ourpets Company Play N Squeak Cat Toy
First Aid Kit: The first rule of having a first aid kit is to NEVER medicate another person’s animal without first calling the veterinarian and only in extreme situations. For example, if you see a dog get stung by a bee, call the veterinarian and confirm the proper way to treat. Know what each animal’s individual medical record entails before ever offering anything medical. This is very important.
- CPR chart: When you’re pet-sitting, you should be qualified to do this. I have not been, but if I were pet-sitting full-time, I would certainly take the course and earn my certification! Here is a simple infographic you can print and laminate to keep in your kit.
- Emergency First Aid Chart: In case you show up and a pet is in danger, you should know what emergency precautions to take. Consider having a chart on hand to help remind yourself when you’re panicking, but also be sure you are up-to-date in your emergency classes. There are a number of ways you can get certified. Here is a great resource for purchasing the charts to keep on hand.
- Betadine: A good general cleansing agent for wounds (be sure not to get it on your floors!)
- Syringes – Because I cared for several diabetic animals, I carried a few extra syringes in the event the owner did not stock enough for us. This is really dependent on your situation.
- Benadryl: My “go to” remedy for bee stings, allergic reactions, and more. You should have this on hand – always.
- Flex Bandages: Flex Bandages are great for stabilizing injuries until you can get a pet to the ER.
- Hand sanitizer: Always protect yourself and other pets. You should never pick up a cat or dog, then handle a bird.
- Pill Crusher/Splitter: This comes in handy more than you might think. We also carry a small packet of Greenies Pill Pockets, because it makes giving medicine much easier.
- Ice Pack: For any impact injuries or in the case of heat stroke. We like the Dynarex Instant Cold Pack.
Carrier: You never know when you may have to evacuate or leave in a hurry. You should be prepared in case of any emergency – and that includes a fire or flood. Keep carriers and harnesses by the door to make it easy to find.
Leash, martingale collar and/or harness: I never put a large dog in the car without them being secured. The safest way to secure them is with a carrier, but if you don’t have room in the car, a harness is better than nothing. We recommend a zip line and harnesses for our three dogs, but the owner of the animals you’re watching can recommend the best alternative for their pets. And you should be asking.
Muzzle: It’s always a good idea to have a muzzle on hand in the event of emergency. I always use a basket muzzle rather than other types of muzzles – not only because it is safer and far less traumatic, but because they can eat and drink through the muzzle (with practice). Animals can act very differently when they are stressed and if you have to evacuate for any reason, most shelters require all animals to be muzzled in order to gain access. It’s just good to have on hand and hope you’ll never need it…
Of course, your own individual pet-sitting kit will vary dramatically depending on what type of species, size of animal, and temperament of animals you’re watching. We’ll be preparing some alternative lists for birds, cats, fish, and more – so stay tuned.