It’s vacation season. Some are taking to the road with their fur family members in tow. Some are entrusting them to the care of pet sitters. Before you go, here are some tips to keep them safe and secure.


Registered Microchip and ID: Whether you are traveling with, or without your pet, be sure that they are microchipped, registered to you with current information, and properly fitted with a collar and identification tag. You might investigate a GPS tracking system. Just remember that they are dependent upon proximity and signal so don’t depend on them to the exclusion of good identification.


Provide an Emergency Back-Up: Your pet sitter could get sick or injured. Make emergency back up plans in advance, confirm them with your back up, and provide the information to your pet sitter.

House Rules for Safety, Security, and Medications: Provide detailed notes to your pet sitter and walk through them together before you leave. It’s always best to have a pre-trip meeting to be sure everyone is on the same page about expectations as well as pet likes, dislikes, and special needs. If the pet sitter is new to you, check references thoroughly. First-hand accounts are better than online reviews that can, sadly, be bought and sold.

Notify Vet and Provide Permission to Treat: This varies by veterinarian. Contact them and ask what their policy is and put a plan in place should your pet have an emergency in your absence.

Give Pet Sitter a Digital Photo of Pet: If, heaven forbid, your pet goes missing, your pet sitter will need this to post signs immediately in the neighborhood and with local vets and shelters.

Insist on Daily (Visual) Check-Ins: For peace-of-mind, ask your pet sitter to send you a daily update text or email and photo so you can rest assured that all is well.


Pre-Trip Vet Check and Vaccination Records: Do a pre-trip vet check if it has been a while to ensure that your pet is healthy before you take off. Bring copies of all vaccinations. Should something happen and you have to board your pet while on the road, these will be required.

Pack Your Pet’s Bag and Medications: First and foremost: bring a good leash and keep your dog on it. Even dogs with great recall can bolt in pursuit of critters or away from loud noises ending up disoriented  in unfamiliar territory. Along with food, treats, and medications, pack an extra collar and leash, shampoo and brush, favorite blanket, and towel.

Digital Photo of Pet: Send yourself a digital photo of your pet. If your pet goes missing – at home or on the road, you’ll want to post to area lost and found sites as well as to local vets and shelters.

Collapsible Crate and First Aid Kit: Even if you don’t plan to need it, bring a secure, collapsible crate…you never know! If your pet is injured in the middle of nowhere, you’ll need some first aid basics for immediate treatment. The ASCPA has kit information through this link.

Water and Hot Cars: Bring plenty of water and a water bowl. Don’t assume your pet will drink from a water bottle. And never, ever, leave your pet in a hot car. It only takes 10 minutes for the interior temperature of a car to reach a potentially fatal 109 degrees on 90-degree day.

Before you go dog checklist