||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
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
- 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.
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
Tips for choosing a qualified pet
- 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
- 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
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
Insulin storage and proper mixing and handling techniques
- Insulin dose and how to fill the syringe. Or, how to re-mix
- How to give an injection
- Time(s) to give injection(s)
- Proper syringe disposal
- Feeding instructions: special food, portion size,
- 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
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
- How to contact you.
- General information about leashes, toys, crates, and "house
- 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
- 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.
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
for 10 min.
||15 min. walk
for 10 min.
||15 min. walk
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
- 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.
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:
Species (cat / dog / etc.)
Condition(s) - DIABETIC, hypothryoid, Cushing's,
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
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
Updated May 2004
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