How to find someone you can rely on to look after your pets when you go on holiday

If you hate the idea of putting your pet(s) into the local cattery or kennels when you go on holiday – or dislike the thought of leaving your property vacant and vulnerable – you may want to hire a house-sitter.

The arrangement is all the more tempting when you do the sums on specialist holiday accommodation for your pets.

Research from a price comparison website found that the average cost of placing a dog in kennels is around £15 a day while cat owners can expect to pay around £10 a day. Head away for a week and the bill can quickly rise to more than £100.

The wallet-friendly alternative is to get a house-sitter who will look after your pets and your home for a fraction of the cost – or for free.

This means your pet remains in familiar surroundings while you have the added benefit of your house being occupied – and hopefully more secure from burglars.

Findings from Hive, the smart home technology specialist, indicate that millions of households now rely on house-sitters to give them peace of mind while they are on holiday.

A host of new websites have emerged in recent years to cater for this rising demand.

Here, we compare sitting services.

TRUSTED HOUSESITTERS

There is an annual charge of £89 to gain access to an army of potential sitters – from both the UK and further afield – who can stay in your property and look after your dog, cat or other four-legged friend for free.

With this service, no money changes hands. All arrangements are made on trust, with members building their profiles through a mix of references, recommendations and police background checks.

Sitters are asked to pay a membership fee of £89 to give owners additional reassurance that they are providing their services for the right reasons.

Tim Lyons, managing director of the website, says: ‘Pet owners can travel more often with the reassurance that their pets are happy at home with trusted, verified sitters who have been carefully chosen to meet their individual needs.’

Trusted Housesitters website

HOMESITTERS

The service charges a setting-up fee of £36 for people who want to find sitters. You then pay £52.40 plus VAT per day. This covers the fee for looking after the home as well as a daily food allowance for the sitter.

With this website, all sitters are employed directly by the company. There is no cost associated with becoming a home-sitter.

But there is a rigorous selection process which includes a face-to-face interview and background checks. Sitters are also covered by comprehensive travel insurance while on their assignment.

Homesitters website

DOGBUDDY

By using this service, pets go to the sitter’s house instead. Owners get matched with vetted dog-sitters in their area. You arrange rates with the sitter – usually around £20 per day – and the website’s fee is 15 per cent, including specialist insurance.

Dogbuddy website

Others

Other websites where you can find a sitter to look after your pets in your own home include Max & Kitty and Animal Angels.

Another service where a sitter looks after your pet in their own home is Holidog.

SECURITY ADVANTAGE

Apart from getting the cat fed and the dog walked while you are away, one of the big advantages of arranging a house-sitter is knowing your home is being lived in – giving you peace of mind.

Adam Powell, from insurance specialist Policy Expert, says: ‘Many people want to ensure when they are jetting off that their homes are protected – relying on house-sitters alongside traditional home security measures.

‘House-sitters can drastically reduce the chance of burglary, as well as permanent damage from leaking pipes, damaged electrics, or fire.

‘These could add up to thousands of pounds if left unnoticed until your return.’

TIPS FOR FINDING SOMEONE SUITABLE

WHILE there are plenty of positive stories, it is important to carry out checks before inviting a stranger into your home while you are out of the country.

  • If possible, arrange a face-to-face meeting with a potential sitter. Alternatively, call or Skype them.
  •  Be clear whether you are paying the sitter a day rate – or whether their work will be free in return for accommodation.
  • Prepare a ‘welcome pack’ detailing their responsibilities.
  • Stock up on pet food and other pet essentials, or leave sufficient money.
  • Leave vet details. Agree to reimburse your sitter for any payments they make.
  • Lock away valuables. Leave your home clean and tidy so your sitter will feel welcome.
  • If you cannot be there to hand over keys, arrange with a friend or neighbour to ‘meet-and-greet’.
  • Talk to your sitter about being updated when away on any issues with the home and pets.

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