Arranging For Care


Eventually, you will probably have to be away from your pet for one or more days. Here are some options for care and lots of tips for choosing and preparing a pet-sitter.

Different types of care
  • Boarding at the vet's. A good option for a short stay, if your pet requires intense monitoring, or if you can't find a sitter. Many vets do not have large boarding facilities and the pet is kept in a relatively small cage. This is probably not a great option if you will be gone more than a few days.
  • Boarding at a kennel or care facility. An option for a longer stay or for a pet that needs space to roam.  You must be sure the kennel staff has the training and time to care for and monitor a diabetic pet.
  • Boarding at someone's house. May work well if you know someone who will take care of your pet but is unable to stay in your home or make daily trips to your home.
  • At home care. An option if your pet does best at home and you can find a qualified friend or professional pet sitter. Depending on your pet's needs and how long you will be gone, you might have someone visit your house (once, twice, or more times a day) or you may want someone to live in your house while you're away.

Choosing the type of care depends on many things

  • How long you will be away
  • Your pet's temperament
  • Your pet's space and activity requirements
  • Your pet's health needs
  • The sitter's qualifications
  • Expense

Tips for choosing a qualified pet sitter

  • Must be responsible and dependable.
  • Must understand the seriousness of this job.
  • Must be able to handle your pet.
  • Must be able to deal with an emergency. This includes being able to transport your pet to the vet.

Who might make a good pet sitter for a diabetic pet.

  • An adult family member or trusted friend
  • A local veterinary technician
  • A professional pet sitter. Information on professional pet sitters can be found at the National Association of Pet Sitters web site. They promote at home care (obviously). The site has information about the benefits of using a professional pet sitter for at home care, and a number you can call for a referral. This is an option you may want to explore for a special needs pet.

Who will not make a good pet sitter for a diabetic pet

  • This is not a job for a neighborhood child. Many children make excellent pet sitters for a healthy pet. But a diabetic pet has very special needs that require more knowledge and skills than a typical child has. A child should not be put in the position of being responsible for a special needs pet where serious medical problems may arise and life and death decisions may need to be made. Of course, special consideration can be made on an individual basis. But I would be sure that an adult is available to help care for the pet and transport the pet to the vet.

How to prepare a pet sitter or boarding facillity staff

  • Leave detailed instructions that include:
    • Location of all supplies (insulin, syringes, corn syrup)
    • Insulin storage and proper mixing and handling techniques
    • Insulin dose and how to fill the syringe. Or, how to re-mix pre-filled syringes.
    • How to give an injection
    • Time(s) to give injection(s)
    • Proper syringe disposal
    • Feeding instructions: special food, portion size, time(s), treats
    • Exercise: when, how long, what to do, and what not to do. Remind your sitter that if they taking your dog for a walk, they MUST take sugar with them (honey packet, corn syrup). Put the sugar supply with the leash.
    • Emergency preparedness. Review the signs of hypoglycemia and instructions for treating hypoglycemia
    • Write down the vet's name, phone number, address, and give directions to the vet's office.  If your vet is not open 24 hours, also include the phone number and location of an emergency veterinary clinic. 
    • Leave a signed copy of the emergency treatment permission form you've prepared and given to your vet. 
    • How to contact you.
    • General information about leashes, toys, crates, and "house rules".
  • Practice session
    • Have the pet sitter come over a few days before we leave and go over all the instructions. Don't do this the night before just in case they need another day of practice (see next point).
    • Have the sitter prepare a syringe with the proper amount of insulin and give the injection. If they are very nervous this first time, ask them if they would like to come again before you leave and practice giving another injection.
    • Show the pet sitter where all the supplies are located. Don't just say the corn syrup is in the cabinet - show them or take it out and put it someplace visible. 


  • Checklist
    • There's a lot for a pet sitter to remember, so make things easy with a daily checklist. Each box can be checked as completed or have notes written in it like the insulin dose and time. This is particularly helpful so when you return home  you'll know what time the last injection was given.  The checklist might look like this when you return.  Make a checklist that suits your pet's medications (insulin or oral medications) and other special needs. 

      Task Monday
      Insulin shot 8 am 
      4 units
      8 pm
      4 units
      8:30 am
      4 units
      8:30 pm
      4 units
      Food 1 cup 1 cup 1 cup 1 cup
      water bowl
      x x x x
      played fetch for 10 min. 15 min. walk played fetch for 10 min. 15 min. walk
      Scoop litterbox
      x x x x


Notify your vet 
These guidelines assume you have an ongoing relationship with a vet who has your pet's current medical records. You can double check with your vet and ask what information or permission form he or she would like as a precaution when you're using a pet sitter. If you'll be gone for an extended time, you may want to ask your vet about pre-payment for possible emergency care. 

  • Visit or call your vet's office. Talk with the office staff and tell them you'll be a way and a pet sitter will be caring for your pet. 
  • Prepare an information / treatment permission form. Mail, fax, or drop off a sheet of paper that can be placed in your pet's file. 
    Include the following basic information
    • Pet's name
    • Age
    • Species (cat / dog / etc.)
    • Condition(s) - DIABETIC, hypothryoid, Cushing's, etc. 
    • Current medications - what, how much, and how often.
      For example, Lilly Humulin NPH insulin 4 units twice daily. Your vet's record may show that your pet is receiving NPH insulin, but they may not know the current dose. 
      IMPORTANT!!! If you are using a U-40 or diluted insulin and a U-100 syringe, be sure you write down how many units of insulin you are giving your pet, not how many marks on the syringe you fill the syringe to. If this pertains to you and you are uncertain about the number of units you are giving, read this page or ask your vet for help. 
    • Don't forget to provide this basic information for your other pets (not just your special-needs pet).
    • Dates of your trip.
    • Any phone numbers you can be reached at.
    • The name of your pet sitter and that he or she is authorized to seek care for your pet.
    • Any special considerations. Do you want the vet to call you before major treatment, do you want your vet to do anything and everything possible for your pet, etc.
    • Sign and date the form. If you're a frequent traveler, you may want to make one general treatment permission form that you sign and give to your vet.  Then you can update the itinerary portion as needed for each trip.
    • Make a copy for your pet sitter in case they need to take your pet to a different vet or an emergency clinic.

Remember, whatever care option you choose, something may happen to your pet. This is not to worry or scare you. But just like any other day, your pet may refuse to eat, may vomit its food, or may become sick for another reason. Any of these things can happen regardless of the type of care you choose. Just make the best arrangements you can for your pet's care.


Get your pet a DIABETIC tag If you're not home to speak up for your pet, the tag will indicate that your pet is diabetic and needs special care. 

Get it here or somewhere else, but get your pet a DIABETIC tag! It could save your pet's life.

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Updated May 2004
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