Pet Care Basics

What standard of care should I offer my clients?

No matter which services you offer you must remember that all pets deserve wonderful care and, when they are in your care, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are always safe and receive the best possible mental and physical stimulation, nurturing and good old TLC.

The better the care that you provide the more likely it is that Pet Owners will provide fantastic feedback.  This will lead to more Bookings and Jobs for you and, ultimately, the luxury of being able to select Bookings/Jobs that suit you best.

How many pets can I sit?

As a Pet Boarding Pet Service Provider, the number of pets you can have at any one time will depend on your local council. Each State and Territory differs, even between towns. This link, Australian Government, will take you to the Australian Government’s State, Territory and Local Government page. From here you can navigate your way to find out the specific requirements of your local council.

Who provides the pet food?

For familiarity, reduced risk of upset stomachs and consistency, we require the Pet Owner to always provide their pet’s food. You should discuss this with them so that there is no misunderstanding about this matter.

It is best to always remind the Pet Owner to provide enough food for the duration of care plus a couple of days’ extra in case of any unforeseen delays to their return.

If, by any chance, they arrive without the food you might agree to purchase it for them however here are some tips to help cover yourself:

  • get them to write down exactly which brand of dog food you need to purchase
  • preferably get some money in advance
  • keep receipts for all purchases
  • provide them with a typed up invoice with copies of receipts attached upon their return

How do I assemble a basic pet first aid kit?

It is advisable to have a fully stocked pet first aid kit on hand.  Items will differ depending on the type of pet you intend to care for however, some basics will be the same for any pets.

We remind you that, if you are unsure about a pet’s condition, you should either go directly to the nearest vet or, if you need veterinary advice for non-life threatening issues, you can book an online chat or video consult with www.onlinevet.com.au who are available 24/7.  As at 04/2019, the cost is $45.00 – $69.00, depending on the time of day, and you will have a one-on-one consultation with an experienced vet.

You can assemble your own with this list to assist you or you can purchase a pre-assembled first aid kit.

  • Phone numbers for the pet’s vet, the closest vet and the nearest emergency-veterinary clinic (along with directions!)
  • Self-cling bandage (bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur—available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogues)
  • Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting which some pets will do when frightened or injured.  Don’t use this if the pet is vomiting, choking, coughing or otherwise having difficulty breathing)
  • Protective gloves
  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
  • Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Gauze rolls
  • Ice pack
  • Scissors (with blunt ends)
  • Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
  • Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies) or table salt for flushing wounds
  • Splinting item (e.g. a wooden stirring stir stick for small pets)
  • Tweezers
  • Towels or a foil blanket for wrapping the pet to retain vital body heat and prevent hypothermia associated with shock
  • A pillowcase to confine a cat for treatment
  • Bubble wrap – an ideal material to place under an injured animal since it is clean, soft and waterproof. It can also be used as padding under a splint or bandage.
  • A pet carrier

All the supplies you will need can be purchased from pharmacies, vets and online pet supply sites.  It is advisable to obtain a storage container that allows you to organise your supplies neatly.  A fishing tackle box or tool organiser work well.  Keep the kit in an easily accessed position but out of reach of children.

The task of creating a first-aid kit can be reduced by purchasing one pre-assembled from the Animal Welfare League https://awl.org.au/support-us/shopping/pet-first-aid-kit.

What toxic foods & household dangers should I be aware of?

Pets can get into all kinds of mischief and everything goes into their mouths. It is part of your Duty of Care to ensure no such toxins are accessible to the pets you are caring for. Click here for a list of the most common household toxic dangers.

For a list of plants toxic to pets see the link on the RSPCA website.

What should I feed pets in my care?

When minding pets you should ONLY ever feed them the food that the Pet Owner has provided in the quantities that they have advised unless the Pet Owner has agreed that certain treats that you have on hand are also suitable.  This way you won’t run the risk of a pet having an upset tummy from eating something that doesn’t agree with them.  You can also be certain that the pet will then return to their human at a similar weight to what they were when they arrived.

If the pet won’t eat for the first couple of days don’t worry as that won’t harm them as long as they are drinking water.  If it goes beyond a couple of days it could be a good idea to call the Pet Owner or their local contact to ask what other food you could offer the pet to get them started with eating.  An even better idea is to have this discussion with the Pet Owner at the Meet & Greet.

How often should I update the Pet Owner?

Pet Owners like to know how their pet is going so be sure to keep them updated with positive messages as often as possible– daily if you can.  Sending a picture of their pet enjoying their stay with you or your visit to their home, or a message about the pet’s day, does more than just say hello, it gives the Pet Owner a sense of peace and wellbeing that their pet isn’t fretting and is being well cared for.

Try not to bother Pet Owners with basic questions as they need to enjoy their holiday knowing that their pet is in good, capable hands however, in the case of emergencies, it is important to keep them and/or their emergency contact up to date.

What is involved in boarding pets in my home?

  1. Keeping pets safe in your home

If you are caring for pets in your own home you must comply with local council laws and ensure that your property is extremely safe and suitable for the type of pet you are minding.

  1. How many pets can I care for in my home?

This will depend on a number of factors:

a. How many pets you have

b. Will the pets all get along? This is very important to your own sanity and enjoyment of caring for pets as well as to the safety of the pets.  If you take on more than one pet from different Pet Owners, you need to be absolutely certain that they will all get on.  You don’t want to be in the middle of a dog or cat fight or have a cat create a meal out of a bird that you are minding.

If you do decide to take on pets from different Pet Owners, do make sure that you notify each Pet Owner of your intention to do so and get their agreement.  Some Pet Owners will expect that their pet will be the only one staying with you.

c. What your local council allows. To determine what your local council laws are for the number of pets you can mind, click on your state and then navigate to your local council:

ACT

NSW

NT

QLD

SA

TAS

VIC

WA

  1. The daily routine

It is essential that you get the information that is detailed in Meet & Greets from the Pet Owner so that you understand what the daily routine is and can provide the best possible care for their pets.

  1. Water

It is very important that water is always available for pets.  If you are going to be out for a while be sure that the water is in a position where it can’t be tipped over.

  1. Exercising dogs

You should be prepared to walk any dogs you are minding for whatever time/distance the Pet Owner has requested.  If it is a young dog it is certainly in your interest to walk it frequently so that some of that energy is used up walking rather than chewing things around your house.  Make sure the collar and lead are secure so that you don’t have a situation where the dog slips out of its collar when out walking.

NEVER let a dog off lead when walking it even if the owner says you can.  While it may come back when the owner calls it you may find that it does not exhibit the same behaviour with you.

Be prepared to also spend some time playing games in the garden with younger dogs as they will need more exercise.

  1. Grooming

Dogs and long-haired cats need to be brushed regularly to remove loose fur and avoid tangled masses.

If a dog is staying in your home, so that you return them to their owner looking and smelling their best it is a good idea, if possible, to bath them if you have cared for them for more than 7 days (or if they have had fun rolling in some mud!).  If you have not agreed on a price for this with the owner then you can’t charge them for this but they will really appreciate it if you provide this as an extra free service.  Of course, you should only ever use shampoo approved of by the Pet Owner as some dogs have allergies to some product ingredients.

  1. Additional security

We strongly recommend that you attach a tag with your phone number to each dog as soon as they arrive. A very easy way to attach tags it to use cable ties rather than fiddling with one of those always difficult to open metal rings.

You need to remove any tag with the Pet Owner’s number as you would not want the finder’s call to go to the Pet Owner especially if it is a number on which they are not currently receiving calls e.g. home land line or mobile that is out of range.

Remember to re-attach the owner’s tag before they arrive to collect their dog and to remove your tag as soon as they arrive.  A good reminder is to place your scissors next to all the dog’s items so that you remember to cut your tag off.

What is involved in visiting pets in their home?

  1. How many home visits can I do?

It is important that you calculate the distance between each booking and how long it will take you to travel that distance.  Then you need to factor in the amount of time you have committed to for each booking.  It is also important to be aware of the daylight hours so that you don’t arrive at your last appointment in the dark unless it is a booking that is totally indoors.  Remember to allow an additional 10-15 minutes per booking to cover any unexpected travel delays or extra attention that is required at the home.

You will also need to note what time the Pet Owner needs you to visit their pets so that they are visited at the agreed time.  They will appreciate an update from you after each visit so that they know their pets are being cared for.

  1. The daily routine

It is essential that you get the information from the Pet Owner that is detailed in Meet & Greets so that you understand what the daily routine is and can provide the best possible care.

Knowing the tasks involved will also help to judge the required length of the visit.  It is not cost effective, nor enjoyable, to have agreed to a half hour visit and find that all the tasks involved will actually take more than 50 minutes.  Having the daily routine information gives you the opportunity to discuss the time needed with the Pet Owner before the visits begin.  If you do not allow enough time for the home visit, you are not providing adequate care for the animals that you are responsible for.

  1. Water

It is very important that water is always available for pets.  Suggest to the Pet Owner that, whilst the pet is in your care and you are only visiting them once or twice per day, that they provide an additional source of water.  This will ensure that, should the pet tip a bowl over, they have another source of water.

  1. Exercising dogs

You should be prepared to walk any dogs you are minding for whatever time/distance the Pet Owner has requested.  If it is a young dog it is certainly in your interest to walk it frequently so that some of that energy is used up walking rather than chewing things around the house or yard.  Make sure the collar and lead are secure so that you don’t have a situation where the dog slips out of its collar when out walking.

NEVER let a dog off lead when walking it even if the owner says you can.  While it may come back when the owner calls it you may find that it does not exhibit the same behaviour with you.

Be prepared to also spend some time playing games in the garden with younger dogs as they will need more exercise.  Remember to accurately assess the time required to provide this level of care for the dog and adjust the time required for each of your home visits.

  1. Grooming:

Dogs and long-haired cats need to be brushed regularly to remove loose fur and avoid tangled masses.

Make sure that you know the location of the dog shampoo in case the dog somehow manages to get filthy and needs a bath.  It is a good idea to discuss, at the Meet & Greet, how the owner would like you to handle the situation if their dog does become filthy.  The Pet Owner may want you to use the local mobile doggie hydrobath.  Be sure to agree on whether or not you will charge if you need to bath the dog and, if a hydrobath is used, how this will be paid for.

  1. Additional security

We strongly recommend that you attach a tag with your phone number to each dog on your first visit. A very easy way to attach tags it to use cable ties rather than fiddling with one of those always difficult to open metal rings.

You need to remove any tag with the Pet Owner’s number as you would not want the finder’s call to go to the Pet Owner especially if it is a number on which they are not currently receiving calls e.g. home land line or mobile that is out of range.

Remember to re-attach the owner’s tag and remove your tag on your last visit.  Have a pair of scissors in your home visit kit so that you can cut your tag off.

What is involved in housesitting pets in their home?

  1. The daily routine

It is essential that you get the information from the Pet Owner that is detailed in Meet & Greets so that you understand what the daily routine is and can provide the best possible care. Knowing the tasks involved will help you to decide if this booking fits in with your schedule.

If you are not going to have the time to fulfil the daily routine you will not be providing adequate care for the animals that you are responsible for.

  1. Water

It is very important that water is always available for pets.  Make sure there is more than one source of water available and check this a couple of times a day..

  1. Exercising dogs

You should be prepared to walk any dogs you are minding for whatever time/distance the Pet Owner has requested. If it is a young dog it is certainly in your interest to walk it frequently so that some of that energy is used up walking rather than chewing things around the house. Make sure the collar and lead are secure so that you don’t have a situation where the dog slips out of its collar when out walking.

NEVER let a dog off lead when walking it even if the owner says you can.  While it may come back when the owner calls it you may find that it does not exhibit the same behaviour with you.

Be prepared to also spend some time playing games in the garden with younger dogs as they will need more exercise.

  1. Grooming:

Dogs and long-haired cats need to be brushed regularly to remove loose fur and avoid tangled masses.

Make sure that you know the location of the dog shampoo in case the dog somehow manages to get filthy and needs a bath.  It is a good idea to discuss with the Pet Owner at the Meet & Greet how they would like you to handle the situation if their dog does become filthy.  They may want you to use the local mobile doggie hydrobath.  Be sure to agree on whether or not you will charge if you need to bath the dog and, if a hydrobath is used, how this will be paid for.

What is involved in walking dogs?

The most important aspect of walking dogs is their security.

Always ensure that you have a secure collar and lead on the dog before opening doors or gates.

Never let the dog off lead when in an area that is not fully fenced.  Even if the Pet Owner tells you that their dog won’t run away you never know when something will frighten the dog and have them scampering off.

Keep the dog away from people and other dogs as you never know how they are going to react if someone sticks their hand in their face or if another dog sniffs them in the wrong place.  Some dogs can be friendly when off lead but can be aggressive when on lead.

Don’t let them eat anything along the way as you never know what could be in that tasty morsel.

Ensure that you are able to control any dog that you agree to walk.

What is involved in providing a pet taxi service?

When providing a pet taxi service it is important that the pets you are transporting are always secured so that they can’t escape, are safe in the event of an accident and so that you are safe at all times.

When arranging a service with a Pet Owner ascertain what they will provide in the way of crates or harnesses and only take the booking if you are confident that both you and the pet will be safe.

What particular care should be given to senior pets?

Extra attention needs to be afforded to senior pets as they may not be in top health and may have more medications to be taken into consideration when caring for them.

They may need some extra TLC due to:

  • Stiff and sore joints
  • Incontinence issues
  • Diminished eye sight
  • Hearing less
  • Tolerance for things/children/noises/other pets around them may be limited

 

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