5 Tips for Hiring a Pet Sitter During the Holidays

A cozy golden retriever lying next to a person wearing warm, festive socks

The holiday season is fast approaching, bringing with it a flurry of get-togethers, gift exchanges, dinners, and other festivities. Not all holiday travel and accommodations are ideal for our cats and dogs to join in, though. Pet parenting can be a challenge this time of year, but don’t worry — we've got you covered with some tips for hiring a pet sitter for the holidays. Let’s get into it!

1. Plan ahead

Holiday pet sitting services are in high demand, so it's important to start planning as early as possible. Some pet sitters may even accept bookings up to a year in advance.

Keep in mind that many pet sitters may charge a holiday surcharge due to the increased demand, and some might have last-minute cancellation fees.

Another aspect is having a backup plan. Winter can bring unexpected challenges like sickness, severe weather, closed roads, and other issues that can disrupt your carefully laid plans. Knowing your local boarding facility or having your neighbor’s contact info handy can save the day, or at least leave your anxiety at bay.

2. Research and interview pet sitters

Before hiring a pet sitter, do your homework: research potential sitters' availability, pricing, and reviews or testimonials from previous clients. If you’ve worked with a pet sitter before, what worked or didn’t work for your pet?

You can also check if they are members of professional pet sitting associations like Pet Sitters International. Sites like these can simplify your search and provide more credibility and peace of mind.

3. Communicate well and draft a contract

Once you've found a potential pet sitter, it's vital to have a clear and detailed understanding of the services they will provide.

Make sure all responsibilities, services, fees, and other crucial details are agreed upon and understood by both parties. Having a written contract that outlines these specifics is highly recommended.

4. Prepare your pet and your home

To ensure a smooth experience for your pet and the pet sitter, provide detailed instructions and information, including:

  • Emergency contact details
  • Your veterinarian's information
  • Health records and medication instructions
  • Feeding schedules and dietary requirements
  • Behavioral notes or any triggers your pet may have

Consider practicing short periods of separation if it has been a while since your pet has been left alone, as this can help ease the transition. Maintaining your pet's routine as closely as possible will also help them feel more comfortable in your absence.

It may be wise to try a trial run before the holidays to ensure that your pet and the pet sitter are a good match — and that your pet adjusts well to their presence.

Additionally, make your home pet-sitter friendly. Ensure they also have access to human essentials, especially if they stay overnight.

5. Check in and show appreciation

Maintain open communication with your pet sitter throughout their stay. This helps ensure both your peace of mind and theirs.

Understand that, during the holiday season, they may be unable to make last-minute changes or extend their stay, as they likely have other clients and their own holiday plans to manage.

At the end of your arrangement, consider expressing your gratitude with a small gift or a tip in addition to their standard fees. Don’t forget to leave a review highlighting their great service on a site or platform where you found them!

Pet sitting FAQs

Why pet-sitting?

  • Pet sitting provides one-on-one care for your pet, which may not be possible with boarding.
  • It is less stressful for pets with separation anxiety, reactive behavior, or those who struggle with new environments.
  • It's convenient as it eliminates the need to transport your pet and their belongings.
  • Pet sitting allows greater attention to specialized care for pets with medical needs.

What are the different types of pet sitting?

Consider your preferences, your pet's needs, and factors like cost and logistics when choosing. Generally, your options include: 

  • In-home pet sitting: The sitter visits your home on a schedule, covering feeding, playtime, bathroom breaks, and walks.
  • Overnight pet sitting: This option may be ideal for pets with greater care needs or when you plan to be away for longer periods of time.
  • Drop-in visits: For shorter times away, quick check-ins cover the basics, like potty breaks and checking on food and water.

Where can I find a pet sitter?

  • Ask for recommendations from trusted friends, family, and other pet parents in your local community.
  • Check online pet services like Trusted Housesitters and Rover. These can be a great resource for finding reliable, vetted pet sitters who’ve passed background checks and external references.
  • Get referrals from industry professionals like your veterinarian, groomer, local pet stores, and dog walkers.
  • Local social media communities may also have recommendations and reviews from fellow pet owners.

Hiring a pet sitter during the holidays ensures that your furry friends get all the love and care they deserve while you're out there enjoying the festivities.

All it takes is some planning, research, and a little prep to make the experience pawsitively delightful for everyone.

While you’re here, check out our guide for pet-proofing your home for the holidays and some must-know winter safety tips for cats and dogs!

Written by: Dylan M. Austin
Reviewed by: Dr. Jennifer Sperry, DVM