Blog header October 2013



 

 

Pet Sitters International free information packet

  


Keep in Touch

Subscribe via E-mail

Your email:

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Pet Sitter Spotlight: Tess Ross, The Pet Nanny & Dog Walker

  
  
  

There’s great truth to the statement, “There’s strength in numbers.” Pet sitting can be lonely. And whether you are just starting your pet-sitting business or are a pet-care veteran, you have questions—and there’s no one better to help answer your questions and share in your daily challenges and joys than a fellow pet sitter.

PSI members have a network of nearly 7,000 fellow PSI members and pet-sitting business owners, and PSI is always looking for ways to help our members connect with one another. From PSI’s annual conference to the private Facebook chat group, PSI is always seeking out new avenues to allow our members to find support, advice and new ideas from fellow pet sitters.

PSI’s Pet Sitter Spotlight series has that same goal. Each month, we’ll feature a different PSI member and share his or her answers to our pet-sitting survey. The responses will help you get to “know” this pet sitter and provide you with some tips and advice for your own pet-sitting business.  You can view past Pet Sitter Spotlights here.

Meet Tess Ross, owner of The Pet Nanny & Dog Walker in Levittown, Pennsylvania:

 

Tess Ross-The PSI BlogYour Name: Tess Ross

 

Business Name: The Pet Nanny & Dog Walker

 

Location:  Levittown, Pennsylvania

 

Year you started your pet-sitting business: 2010

 

What was your previous job/profession? Vet/Wildlife Technician

 

What is your current business structure? (sole proprietor, LLC, etc.) Sole proprietor

 

Number of current clients (an estimate is fine): 125

 

How many visits do you typically do per day? 4-10

 

Is your service area urban, suburban or rural? Suburban

 

Is your pet-sitting business insured? Yes

 

Is your pet-sitting business bonded? Yes

 

Do you provide clients with proof of your clear criminal history (background check)?Yes

 

Briefly describe any educational opportunities you have taken advantage of since you became a pet sitter. 

Pet First Aid CPR, currently studying Feline Behavior and Psychology

 

How long did it take you to build up your clientele? A few months.

 

Do you use staff sitters? Yes, ICs

 

Do you offer any services besides basic in the client's home pet sitting and dog walking? (pet taxi, etc.)

Pet Taxi service, and will be offering cat behavior consultations in the future

 

Which advertising methods worked best when you were a new business?

Website and word of mouth

 

Do you still use the same advertising methods? If not, what do you do differently now? Yes, I use the same.

 

What's one mistake you've made as a professional pet sitter (when you were just starting out or at any time during your career)? What did you learn/what do you do differently now?

Trying to cover too large of a service area. I made my area smaller and if I do any jobs outside of that circle, I charge extra.

 

What advice would you give to new pet sitters?

Be sure to get a good service agreement, get yourself insured and check with your state about licensing requiremnts

 

Are there any must-have business tools your business could not do without?

I'm using car magnets and t-shirts now. We get lots of questions and comments wherever we go. I also hand out business cards everywhere.

 

Do you schedule vacation time and/or days off? If so, how often?

It varies. Last year I took three weeks off to spend time with my grandson. I will probably only take a week or two this year.

 

Are there any tips you would share for establishing a healthy work/life balance?

Schedule time for yourself just as you would schedule your visits. Try to work in blocks rather than have visits scattered throughout the day.

 

Is there any other information about your business and/or what has helped you create a successful pet-sitting business that you'd like to share?

I spent six months researching the industry before I really jumped in. Staying current with business and social media trends is essential. Things change constantly and we need to change with them in order to be succesful.

Pet Sitters, Avoid Pets and Distracted Driving

  
  
  

avoid pets and distracted driving

Whether you are a professional pet sitter who also offers pet-transporation services or simply want to provide your clients with information to ensure their pets stay safe at all times, it is important to understand the possible dangers of distracted driving when pets are in your vehicle.

Kim Salerno is the President and Founder of TripsWithPets.com, the premier online pet friendly travel guide that provides tips for pet owners who are traveling or moving with their pets. (In their Moving Guide for Pets,TripswithPets also provides pet owners with a link to PSI's Pet Sitter Locator to help them find a PSI-member professional pet sitter in their new cities.)

Kim shares these tips for avoiding distracted driving and keeping pets safe:

When we think of distracted driving, the typical  “culprits” that come to mind include; texting, eating, applying makeup, chatting on the phone, or even daydreaming.  However, we seldom consider that traveling with an unsecured pet is a very real and dangerous distraction.

AAA in conjunction with Kurgo conducted a survey of people who often drive with their pets. The survey showed that a whopping 64 percent of pet parents partake in unsafe distracted driving habits as they pertain to their pet.  Additionally, 29 percent of respondents admitted to being distracted by their four-legged travel companions, yet 84 percent indicated that they do not secure their pet in their vehicle.  According to the survey, drivers were petting their dogs, putting them in their laps and giving them treats. Some drivers (three percent) even photographed their dogs while driving.  

It’s pretty easy to understand how an unsecured pet can be a distraction while driving. Some pets may become anxious or excited causing them to jump around or bark while in the car. Additionally, a happy and loving pet may just want to be near you and crawl on your lap while driving.  Oftentimes, pets can be frightened and there is always an element of unpredictability with any animal.  When looking for comfort dogs and cats may naturally opt to be near you and add to the possible perils caused by these distractions.   

Properly securing your pet in your vehicle is not only about alleviating this potential driving distraction that could cause an accident. It is also a proactive approach should there be an accident or sudden stop – even a fender bender can injure an unsecured pet. We wear seatbelts for our safety in case of an accident and should take the same care to secure our pets.

A pet that is not restrained properly in a vehicle can be seriously harmed or even killed if thrown from a vehicle.  Airbags can go off and injure a pet in your lap. In the event of an accident, frightened pets can easily escape from a vehicle and run off.  Further, a pet that is not properly secured may not only be harmed but could also put others in danger through the shear force of any impact from an accident.

Ensuring your pet is safe while traveling in your vehicle means finding the pet safety restraint that is right for him. Options include pet seat belts, pet car seats, travel crates, and vehicle pet barriers. Planning to have the right pet safety restraint for your trip will not only keep you and your pet safe but also offer you peace of mind and take one more distraction away.

Author Information:
Kim Salerno is the President and Founder of TripsWithPets.com, a pet travel guide that provides online reservations at more than 30,00,000 pet friendly accommodations across the U.S and Canada. Kim spends her free time traveling with her four-legged kids, Tucker, Charlie, Brownie, and Diamond.

About TripsWithPets.com
TripsWithPets.com is the premier online pet friendly travel guide -- providing online reservations at over 30,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada.

 

5 Ways Pet Sitters Can Support Pet Adoptions

  
  
  

5 Ways Pet Sitters Can Promote Pet Adoption

According to the ASPCA, approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide each year, and approximately 2.7 million are ultimately euthanized annually. There’s no question that the need for pet adoptions is great.

PSI has many pet-sitting members who are actively involved in pet-rescue work—from volunteering weekly at shelters to even starting their own pet-rescue organizations. We find, however, that many professional pet sitters are eager to support their local animal shelters and promote pet adoptions, but their busy schedules may leave them with only limited (or no) time to actually volunteer with a local shelter or rescue group.

PSI offers these ideas for pet sitters who may not be able to volunteer regularly but want to support and promote pet adoptions locally:

1. Share photos of adoptable pets on your social media sites. Sharing photos of local adoptable pets on your pet-sitting company’s Facebook page, for example, is a quick and easy way to support your local shelters and pet rescues—and help pets find a forever home. Be sure to follow your local animal shelter or pet-rescue group on Facebook or other social-media sites. This way, you can easily share, re-post or tweet photos and information they post about adoptable pets.

2. Donate a portion of your pet-sitting revenues from a certain time period (Professional Pet Sitters Week or your business anniversary, for example) to a local shelter or pet-rescue group. We often hear from members who celebrate business milestones or specific observances, such as Professional Pet Sitters Week™ or Take Your Dog To Work Day®, by donating a percentage of their profits during the week (or day) to a designated local shelter or pet-rescue group. See this example from PSI member business Wag Wagon Pet Services.

3. Include a coupon in pet-adoption packets. Another way to show support for your local animal shelter is to offer a free pet-sitting visit coupon they can include inside the adoption packets given to those who adopt. It’s important to know, however, that not all shelters may take you up on this offer. We’ve heard from some pet sitters who have offered a coupon but been declined because the shelter didn’t want to promote one business over another—or didn’t want to promote a business that the shelter workers had not used, etc. If you already have a good working relationship with your local shelter, have been a long-time volunteer and/or know the staff, it may be easier for you to develop this type of partnership.  

4. Offer a discount to clients who have adopted pets. Even if you are unable to have a coupon placed in shelter adoption packets, you may still offer a discount to clients ($5 off the first visit, for example) to clients who show proof their pet has been adopted. If you do offer this type of discount, be sure to promote this on your business website and social-media sites. It’s an easy way to demonstrate your company’s support of pet adoption!

5.  Organize a Hungry Bowl™ Pet Food Drive to benefit your local shelter or rescue group. While you may not have time to volunteer weekly or even monthly, you may be able to devote time once a year to organize a charitable effort to benefit homeless pets. PSI’s Hungry Bowl™ Pet Food Drive campaign makes it easy for members to organize a local pet food drive, by offering step-by-step instructions and customizable fliers, box signs and press releases. The campaign, which was previously hosted annually each December, has been recently updated to allow members to take advantage of these free resources to plan a local Hungry Bowl™ Pet Food Drive at any time throughout the year so that they can select a time that is most convenient for them. PSI members will receive information about updated PSI’s Hungry Bowl™ Pet Food Drive campaign in the coming weeks.

Are you a Pet Adoption Advocate?

PSI is currently accepting submissions for our 2015 Pet Adoption Advocate of the Year Award (entry deadline is July 31, 2015). PSI-member pet sitters are encouraged to tell us their story for a chance to win $500 for the local animal shelter or pet-rescue organization of their choice.

Award details:

You can view the complete contest description and submission requires on the PSI website.

Since 1999, PSI has promoted pet adoption through its annual Take Your Dog To Work Day® celebration. It is our belief that every pet should be a wanted pet—with a professional pet sitter to take care of him or her.

We know that you share that same desire—and many of you work year-round to support and promote local pet adoptions.

The PSI Pet Adoption Advocate Award honors YOU. Perhaps, you volunteer weekly at your local shelter, organize pet adoption drives or use social media to find adoptable pets new homes. 

We want to hear what you are doing to be a pet adoption advocate in your community.

Please note this contest is for PSI members only.

Learn more about the 2014 recipient

Learn more about the 2013 recipient.

Learn more about the 2012 recipient.

To Enter:

E-mail or mail your story to PSI for a chance to win (see below). PSI will select its 2015 Pet Adoption Advocate of the Year and the recipient will have $500 donated to the shelter or animal-rescue organization on their behalf.

In your submission:

  • Detail how you are serving as a local pet adoption advocate. Include specific examples of your efforts, including event participation, adoption promotions, etc.
  • Describe the results of your efforts-has local pet adoption increased, etc.?
  • List the name of the shelter or rescue group you would like to receive the $500 donation.
  • Include a photo of yourself and additional photos of adoption efforts and event participation, if possible.

 

Award submissions will be reviewed by PSI and the following will be considered:

  • Overall efforts to promote local pet adoptions
  • Length of efforts and/or time involved in efforts to promote pet adoption
  • Success of efforts to promote pet adoption (Please feel free to share testimonials/recommendations from your local shelter or rescue group)
  • Creativity/impact of pet adoption efforts

 

Don't forget to include a photo of yourself with your submission, along with photo/s showing your pet adoption efforts (pet adoption fairs, events, etc.) if available.

Entry deadline is July 31, 2015. The winner will be announced on or before August 15, 2015.

 

  • E-mail: takeyourdog@petsit.com Subject line: 2015 Pet Adoption Advocate
  • Mail: 2015 Pet Adoption Advocate c/o Beth Stultz, PSI 201 East King Street, King, NC 27021

 

 

12 Pet Summer Safety Tips for Pet Sitters and Pet Owners

  
  
  

Heat Warning Window Door Cling 300With the scorching days of summer upon us, it is important to keep in mind that this season brings unique dangers for both pets and pet sitters.

As the temperature rises, so do Fido and Fluffy’s chances of experiencing heat-related problems. Warmer weather can also mean more snakes, more exposure to toxic plants and chemicals and possibly increased crime in the areas you service.

Keep reading for important information to keep in mind—and share with clients—as we enter the hottest and busiest time of the year!

#1 Never leave pets in hot vehicles!

Hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion each year because they are left in parked vehicles (source: AVMA). Many pet owners don't realize that even if they leave the windows cracked (or the air conditioner running), temperatures can still quickly rise and put pets at risk of serious illness or death. These deaths are senseless and can be easily prevented.

How PSI pet sitters can raise public awareness:

As a professional pet sitter, you are an advocate for your clients' pets and your local pet community. Use PSI’s Pets in Hot Vehicles awareness campaign materials to easily, quickly and affordably spread the word to local pet owners about the dangers of leaving their pets in their vehicles, even for short amounts of time. Visit this link to learn more about PSI’s Pets in Hot Vehicles Awareness Campaign.

Heat warning window and door clings are also available at The Pet Sitter Shop

More advice to heed this summer to help ensure the pets in your care are safe:

2. Keep dogs on a leash or confined by fence. Do not let dogs run loose even if they are usually well-behaved. Many dogs get hit by cars whose owners think they “do not need a leash.”

3. Many cats also get hit by cars. Be sure to keep cats indoors or confined with a specially-designed cat fence.

4. Do not exercise dogs or allow them to exercise or play hard during very hot weather or the hottest part of day. Exercise your dogs in the early morning and evening.

5. Do not let brachcephalic (short-nosed breeds, such as bulldogs or pugs) dogs over-exercise when it is hot outside.

6. Dogs that have noisy breathing may have a medical condition. Have them examined by a vet and use caution with exercise in the heat.

7. Make sure all windows have well-fitting screens.

Additional summer resources for pet sitters and pet owners:

8. PSI outlines what steps should be taken if a pet is suffering from heatstroke.    

9. Five tips to help ensure the safety of children and pets around open windows this summer

10.  PSI shares the ASPCA's top paw-care tips to help keep your pet on all fours this summer.

11. Protect your pets with a safety check of the plants and products you use in your home, yard and along your daily walks.

12. Do you know what to do if you or a pet is bitten by a snake this summer?

As a professional pet sitter, are there any other special precautions you take during the summer months? Share below!

Pet Sitter Spotlight: Eric Reyes, Metro Pup SA Dog Walking & Pet Sitting

  
  
  

There’s great truth to the statement, “There’s strength in numbers.” Pet sitting can be lonely. And whether you are just starting your pet-sitting business or are a pet-care veteran, you have questions—and there’s no one better to help answer your questions and share in your daily challenges and joys than a fellow pet sitter.

PSI members have a network of nearly 7,000 fellow PSI members and pet-sitting business owners, and PSI is always looking for ways to help our members connect with one another. From PSI’s annual conference to the private Facebook chat group, PSI is always seeking out new avenues to allow our members to find support, advice and new ideas from fellow pet sitters.

PSI’s Pet Sitter Spotlight series has that same goal. Each month, we’ll feature a different PSI member and share his or her answers to our pet-sitting survey. The responses will help you get to “know” this pet sitter and provide you with some tips and advice for your own pet-sitting business.  You can view past Pet Sitter Spotlights here.

Meet Eric Reyes, owner of Metro Pup SA Dog Walking & Pet Sitting in San Antonio, Texas

 Eric Reyes-Metro Pup SA

Your Name: Eric Reyes

 

Business Name: Metro Pup SA Dog Walking & Pet Sitting

 

Location:  San Antonio, Texas

 

Year you started your pet-sitting business: 2012

 

 

What was your previous job/profession? Account Executive in Advertising

 

What is your current business structure? (sole proprietor, LLC, etc.) Sole proprietor

 

Number of current clients (an estimate is fine): 65

 

How many visits do you typically do per day? 15

 

Is your service area urban, suburban or rural? Urban

 

Is your pet-sitting business insured? Yes

 

Is your pet-sitting business bonded? No

 

Do you provide clients with proof of your clear criminal history (background check)? Yes

 

Briefly describe any educational opportunities you have taken advantage of since you became a pet sitter. 

 

*Pet CPR and First Aid trained through Pet Tech

*Currently pursuing Masters in Organizational Development

 

How long did it take you to build up your clientele? Approximately 4-6 months

 

Do you use staff sitters? Yes, ICs

 

Do you offer any services besides basic in the client's home pet sitting and dog walking? (pet taxi, etc.)

Dog Walking using GPS Technology

In-home overnight pet care (The Slumber Party - my home)

In-home overnight pet care (The Watchdog - client's home)

Pet Taxi service

 

Which advertising methods worked best when you were a new business?

Facebook

Yelp

Google

Building relationship with upscale apartment communities and planning Yappy Hour event for their residents.

(All organic and not paid)

 

Do you still use the same advertising methods? If not, what do you do differently now? Yes, I use the same.

 

What's one mistake you've made as a professional pet sitter (when you were just starting out or at any time during your career)? What did you learn/what do you do differently now?

Paying to be listed on Care.com - as a professional pet sitter, I don't want to be associated with the hobby sitter.

 

What advice would you give to new pet sitters?

Be patient, think outside the box, hit the ground running, and do NOT be afraid.

 

Are there any must-have business tools your business could not do without?

Smartphone

Facebook page

Yelp and Google

First aid kit

Backup plan

Business plan

Marketing plan

 

Do you schedule vacation time and/or days off? If so, how often?

I have scheduled a vacation since I've started my business and took 2 days off. I will probably schedule a vacation once a year, but I want to ensure that I have more ICs first.

 

Are there any tips you would share for establishing a healthy work/life balance?

Create a weekly schedule that is listed out hour by hour....and stick to it.

 

Is there any other information about your business and/or what has helped you create a successful pet-sitting business that you'd like to share?

I am pet-centric and believe in being completely transparent. I don't sweat the little things....I deal with them quickly and concisely, then move on to my business.

5 Ways to Use Mother’s Day to Promote Your Pet-Sitting Business

  
  
  

Mothers Day-Pet Sitters

While summer vacations and winter holidays likely mean busy times for your pet-sitting business, don’t forget other holidays and observances can also offer a great opportunity to promote your services and go the extra mile to make your clients happy. With spring in the air, one of the first holidays of the season is Mother’s Day. Whether you have open spots in your pet-sitting calendar that you’d like to fill or you are simply looking for a new idea to wow your current clients, Mother’s Day is an often overlooked time to promote your pet-sitting business.

If you’re in need of some Mother’s Day marketing inspiration, check out these five ideas from Pet Sitters International:

1. If you still have space for pet-sitting assignments Mother’s Day weekend, e-mail is a good place to start. Do you send your clients an e-mail newsletter? If so, consider sending an e-mail with a subject line similar to “Planning a last-minute weekend getaway for Mom? Don't forget your pets!”  This type of e-mail is a great way let your clients know you still have a few spots available and to contact you to schedule their pet-sitting visits. You may even consider offering a Mother’s Day coupon.

2. If your pet-sitting schedule is full, an e-mail promotion can still be beneficial.  Consider sending a Happy Mother's Day e-mail to your female clients… “Mother's Day is for fur-moms, too!” This e-mail is also a perfect time to include a reminder about how quickly your summer pet-sitting calendar is filling up. If you know any dates that you will not be available, include that information in the e-mail as well. This type of e-mail shows you value your clients and also keeps you top-of-mind with your clients who are likely busy making summer travel plans.

3. Want to put a smile on your clients’ faces? Consider making some simple Mother's Day cards from the pet that you could leave behind for your clients. If possible, include a photo of their pet/s. You can leave these at all of the female clients’ homes you will be visiting Mother’s Day weekend (or the week leading up to Mother’s Day). Happy clients are your best form of advertisement and your clients are sure to spread the word about thoughtful gestures like this!

4. Contact your local media. Consider writing and sending a press release about what to give pet parents for Mother’s Day. This offers a unique twist on the typical articles with Mother’s Day gift ideas for moms. Send the release to your local newspaper and news stations. If you do not already have a relationship with your local media, check out these tips for getting your pet-sitting company’s name in the news. If you have a blog for your pet-sitting business, be sure to post the release there. You can also take advantage of free online distribution sites, such as PRLog.com.

5. Share the love on social media sites. You can also use your pet-sitting company’s social media pages to wish your clients a Happy Mother's Day and share any special offers. Remember, photos and images get more “likes” on Facebook, so consider posting a photo of pets with a “Happy Mother’s Day” message.  You can also get your clients involved by asking your female clients to share photos of themselves with their “pet children” on your page. As a special “thank you” to your mom clients, you could even randomly select one client who shares her picture on your page to receive a free pet-sitting visit. When using social media to promote your pet-sitting business, remember to keep these social-media etiquette  tips in mind.

How are you sharing the love this Mother’s Day?

Does your company offer any special discounts or plan promotions around Mother’s Day? Are there any other holidays that you use to advertise your business?

Share your experiences and tips in the comments section below.

Pet Sitter Spotlight: Shannon Arner, Pet ‘n Nanny LLC

  
  
  

There’s great truth to the statement, “There’s strength in numbers.” Pet sitting can be lonely. And whether you are just starting your pet-sitting business or are a pet-care veteran, you have questions—and there’s no one better to help answer your questions and share in your daily challenges and joys than a fellow pet sitter.

PSI members have a network of nearly 7,000 fellow PSI members and pet-sitting business owners, and PSI is always looking for ways to help our members connect with one another. From PSI’s annual conference to the private Facebook chat group, PSI is always seeking out new avenues to allow our members to find support, advice and new ideas from fellow pet sitters.

PSI’s Pet Sitter Spotlight series has that same goal. Each month, we’ll feature a different PSI member and share his or her answers to our pet-sitting survey. The responses will help you get to “know” this pet sitter and provide you with some tips and advice for your own pet-sitting business.  You can view past Pet Sitter Spotlights here.

Meet Shannon Arner, owner of Pet ‘n Nanny LLC, in Wake Forest, N.C.…

 Shannon Arner Pet n Nanny Facebook

photo source: Pet 'n Nanny Facebook page

Your Name: Shannon Arner

 

Business Name: Pet ‘n Nanny LLCPet N Nanny logo

 

Location:  Wake Forest, N.C.

 

Year you started your pet-sitting business: 2000

 

 

What was your previous job/profession? Vet assistant

 

What is your current business structure? (sole proprietor, LLC, etc.) LLC

 

Number of current clients (an estimate is fine): 200

 

How many visits do you typically do per day? 12

 

Is your service area urban, suburban or rural? All three

 

Is your pet-sitting business insured? Yes

 

Is your pet-sitting business bonded? Yes

 

Do you provide clients with proof of your clear criminal history (background check)? Yes

 

Briefly describe any educational opportunities you have taken advantage of since you became a pet sitter. 

 

*PSI’s annual conference

*Local chamber sponsored business seminars and workshops

*Webinars from pet-sitting experts, such as Kristin Morrison

 

How long did it take you to build up your clientele? It took about two years (going at it hard core!)

 

Do you use staff sitters? No

 

Do you offer any services besides basic in the client's home pet sitting and dog walking? (pet taxi, etc.) We offer pet taxi, play dates, litter-box cleaning, taking dogs to self-serve dog wash, and medication pickup and delivery for pets.

 

Which advertising methods worked best when you were a new business? Print ads rarely worked. What worked more was asking the print ad folks to post our press releases or volunteering to write articles. We network a lot in our community so word of mouth is our best advertisement.

 

Do you still use the same advertising methods? If not, what do you do differently now? We used to do all print ads and flyers, but the ROI (return on investment) was not there. We started being smarter about social media and outlets available for free. We also bumped up our SEO (search engine optimization) for our website.

 

What's one mistake you've made as a professional pet sitter (when you were just starting out or at any time during your career)? What did you learn/what do you do differently now?

Taking on things we didn't want, and pricing our services too low. I've learned we are not the cheapest, but we provide the best quality and the best value of service and care.

What advice would you give to new pet sitters?

Learn, learn and learn. Be picky—don’t just do anything. It devalues the service. Don't be the cheapest, be the best.

 

Are there any must-have business tools your business could not do without?

We use Pet Sitters Plus software.

 

Do you schedule vacation time and/or days off? If so, how often?

We schedule a week vacation once a year. We also now tack on dates to the PSI conference.

 

Are there any tips you would share for establishing a healthy work/life balance?

Take vacations! Also, if there is a day that is looking slim, go ahead and block it off. You don't have to tell customers you're taking the day off…you say you are booked or do not have availability.

 

Is there any other information about your business and/or what has helped you create a successful pet-sitting business that you'd like to share?

[Completing PSI’s Certificate in Professional Pet Sitting and] obtaining our PSI Certified Professional Pet Sitter designation has been most valuable from learning more info regarding the care of pets, but business practices as well.

Pet First Aid Month: Reminders for Professional Pet Sitters

  
  
  

Pet First Aid Month-Pet Sitters International

April is Pet First Aid Awareness month and for professional pet sitters, it’s the perfect time to ensure that you have the pet first aid knowledge and skills necessary to offer the best possible care to your furry clients and also a good time to share pet first aid information with your human clients.

 

Why is pet first aid a vital skill for professional pet sitters?

 

To answer this important question, we reached out to Denise Fleck, pet first-aid & CPR instructor, author and founder of Sunny-dog Ink. Denise will be offering her Pet First Aid & CPR/CPCR workshop at PSI’s upcoming Pet Sitter World Educational Conference & Expo. Stay tuned for Denise’s in-depth article on pet first aid in the next issue of Pet Sitter’s WORLD magazine and be sure to visit her site to learn how you can enter win a great prize package by taking part in her PET SAFETY SCAVENGER HUNT (ends April 30, 2015).

 

The information below is excerpted from the helpful advice Denise shared:

 

Veterinarians are the experts, but most of us don’t have one velcroed to our hip 24/7, so you must react quickly and effectively at the scene when injury or illness takes place.  Knowing what to do during those first few moments can make a life-saving difference for the dog or cat in your care.”

 

If you know how to:

  • stop bleeding and bandage a wound, you can prevent severe blood loss and keep infection at bay.
  • reduce a pet’s body temperature, you can prevent brain damage and death.
  • alleviate choking, you can prevent an animal, from going unconscious.
  • be the pump the pet’s heart can’t be for whatever reason, you can keep blood and oxygen flowing until reaching your Animal ER.   

 

“Pet first aid is by no means a replacement for veterinary care, but can help your vet help your pet if you alleviate further injury. Together you and your veterinarian work as a team for the well-being of your pet.”

 

What pet first aid supplies do you need?

 

As a pet owner, you should have basic first aid supplies for your pets in your home. As a professional pet sitter, it’s important to have a complete pet first aid kit with you in your vehicle, should you need it while on a pet-sitting assignment.

 

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), your kit should include:

  • phone numbers for local veterinarians, the emergency veterinary clinic and animal poison control center. (Your personal kit should also include your pet’s medical records. As a pet sitter, you should also have the preferred veterinarian information for your clients handy.)
  • gauze
  • nonstick bandages or strips of cloth
  • adhesive tape (for bandages)
  • Milk of magnesia activated charcoal
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%)
  • digital thermometer
  • eye dropper
  • muzzle
  • leash
  • stretcher

 

You can view the uses for each of these items on the AVMA website.

 

Denise Fleck also offered these helpful tips to make sure your pet first aid kit is ready when you need it:

 

  • Check for expiration dates and refill packages that have expired.  
  • Also be in-the-know about medications getting too warm. Hydrogen Peroxide will not fizz if the bottle has been subjected to heat and won’t induce vomiting when you need it the most!
  • Adhesive on bandaging also goes bad in the summer heat of your vehicle.

 

Remember: As a professional pet sitter, you are an advocate for your clients’ pets—and the pets in your local community. When your clients are away, you are responsible for the safety of their pets. Plus, your clients and others in your community look to you as a “go to person” for all things pets—especially pet health and safety information.

 

Pet First Aid Awareness month is a good reminder to brush up on your basic pet first aid knowledge and skills, but remember to keep learning all year long! The pets in your care will benefit and your clients will thank you!

The Dog Flu: What pet sitters need to know.

  
  
  

Dog flu-canine influenza

 

When PSI partnered with Merck Animal Health and introduced its first educational campaign regarding the canine flu for professional pet sitters in 2012 only one strain of the canine influenza (H3N8) had been known to affect dogs in the United States.  Many PSI pet sitters are now worried—and have contacted PSI—about the new virus strain that has caused a Midwest canine influenza outbreak.

While Chicago appears to be ground zero for the virus in the United States, there is concern throughout Illinois, and some reports have indicated concern of cases in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and even Georgia. What is known is that this canine influenza outbreak has afflicted more than 1,000 dogs in the Midwest, resulting in at least five deaths.

Pet sitters in PSI’s private Facebook group also reported hearing of cases in Alaska, Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

If you are concerned about the threat of this strain of canine influenza in your area, PSI encourages you to contact your local veterinarian for up-to-date information on if the virus has been detected where you live and operate your pet-sitting service.

PSI has also compiled this quick informational post to provide pet sitters with more information on the canine flue, where it originated, what the symptom are and how to prevent transmission of the virus.

Please note: This post will be updated as more information becomes available about the current outbreak.

What is the canine flu?

There are two types of canine influenza viruses that have been identified worldwide: an influenza A H3N8 virus and an influenza A H3N2 virus. The A H3N8 virus was responsible for the canine flu cases reported a decade ago, but this new outbreak first reported in the Chicago area this year is a result of the canine influenza A H3N2 virus. Dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs. (Source: Center for Disease Control)

While symptoms of the canine flu can vary, they are often very similar to human flu symptoms and include fever, cough, loss of appetite, lethargy and nasal discharge. The severity of symptoms can vary from dog to dog and some dogs infected will show no signs of the flu. About 80 percent of dogs who contract the canine flu will have a “mild” form of the virus. (Source: WCPO.com)

It is also important to note that this Asian strain, H3N2 (unlike the original H3N8), can also affect cats, based on what has been seen with the virus in Asia. (Source:ChicagoNow.com/Steve Dale’s Pet World)

Where did it come from and how did it spread?

Experts at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine say this H3N2 strain of the dog flu virus likely came from viruses circulating in the live bird markets in Asia. It spread among dogs in South Korea and parts of China and there was an outbreak in Thailand in 2012. However, the strain had not been seen in North America until the recent Midwest outbreak and was likely just recently introduced from Asia. (Source: Associated Press)

How it got to Chicago, no one knows, and is one of the many mysteries which researchers are now beginning to seek answers for. However, experts say that while dog daycares are typically a healthy experience for pets, the daycare environment, with dozens of pets mingling, contributed to the dog flu epidemic in Chicago and the Midwest. (Source: Associated Press)

How can you help prevent the dog flu from spreading?

The following tips were shared in a recent article posted by WCPO in Cincinnati:

  • Veterinary officials recommend a dog flu vaccine to prevent your pet from contracting the disease.
  • If you believe your dog has contracted the flu, keep the dog out of contact with other dogs until the infection has subsided.
  • Avoiding places where dogs congregate - dog parks, dog day care, boarding facilities, grooming facilities, etc. - will reduce risk of exposure.
  • If you play with an infected dog - even if the dog is not showing symptoms - you could transmit the disease to your dog later via your clothes or skin.
  • Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing flu symptoms. (Source: WCPO)

On 4/22/15, Dr. Andy Roark, veterinarian, international speaker and host of the YouTube show, Cone of Shame, posted this video for tips with what to do if you suspect your dog may have the dog flu: 





Should dogs receive the canine flu vaccine?

It’s very likely that your clients—particularly if you are located in affected areas—will ask you about the canine flu vaccine. It’s important that pet owners contact their veterinarians to learn more about the availability and effectiveness of this vaccine.

However, you may also want to share this additional information:

Advice from Cornell University:

“It is not known if the current vaccine will provide any protection from this new virus. It does protect against H3N8, which is in circulation in some areas. Other preventive advice remains the same: In areas where the viruses are active, avoid places where dogs congregate, such as dog parks and grooming salons. Owners of symptomatic dogs and cats should consult their veterinarians about testing and treatment. (Source: Cornell University)

Advice from Steve Dale:

“No one knows if the vaccine in place for the H3N8 - the existing canine flu which was discovered in the U.S. in 2004, will also work to protect the Chinese/Korean dog flu.  The two strains are different enough that some experts are skeptical regarding the possibility of cross-protection, but no one knows for sure.

I say (for social dogs), the vaccine is still a good idea. Definitely H3N8, which the vaccine was created for, has not disappeared. Vaccinating for that makes sense, to me. What's more if there is some cross-protection, it's better than no protection. Most of all, the dogs who die as a result of canine influenza virus do so following complications of pneumonia. The vaccines for the dog flu - including the Nobivac Canine Influenza H3N8 vaccine - have properties rendering it protective against pneumonia. That could save a dog's life.” (Source: ChicagoNow.com/Steve Dale’s Pet World)

Has the canine flu impacted the area where you live? We’d love to hear from youand learn how you’ve addressed this issue with your clients.

Pet Sitter Spotlight: Cynthia Johnson, Copy Cat & Dog Care Pet Sitting

  
  
  

There’s great truth to the statement, “There’s strength in numbers.” Pet sitting can be lonely. And whether you are just starting your pet-sitting business or are a pet-care veteran, you have questions—and there’s no one better to help answer your questions and share in your daily challenges and joys than a fellow pet sitter.

PSI members have a network of nearly 7,000 fellow PSI members and pet-sitting business owners, and PSI is always looking for ways to help our members connect with one another. From PSI’s annual conference to the private Facebook chat group, PSI is always seeking out new avenues to allow our members to find support, advice and new ideas from fellow pet sitters.

PSI’s Pet Sitter Spotlight series has that same goal. Each month, we’ll feature a different PSI member and share his or her answers to our pet-sitting survey. The responses will help you get to “know” this pet sitter and provide you with some tips and advice for your own pet-sitting business.  You can view past Pet Sitter Spotlights here.

Meet Cynthia Johnson, owner of Copy Cat & Dog Care Pet Sitting in Lebanon, Ohio…

 

Cynthia Johnson-PSI member spotlight

 

Your Name: Cynthia Johnson

 

Copy Cat and Dog Care-PSI memberBusiness Name: Copy Cat & Dog Care Pet Sitting

 

Location:  Lebanon, OH

 

Year you started your pet-sitting business: The company was founded in 2005, but I took over the leash in 2008.

 

 

What was your previous job/profession? USPS City Mail Carrier 1996-2008, USAF 1985-1995

 

What is your current business structure? (sole proprietor, LLC, etc.) sole proprietor

 

Number of current clients (an estimate is fine): 175

 

How many visits do you typically do per day? 10-15

 

Is your service area urban, suburban or rural? Semi-rural

 

Is your pet-sitting business insured? Yes

 

Is your pet-sitting business bonded? Yes

 

Do you provide clients with proof of your clear criminal history (background check)? Yes

 

Briefly describe any educational opportunities you have taken advantage of since you became a pet sitter.  

 

* Attended PSI’s annual conference since winning the Dotty Shantz Scholarship in 2012

* Trained in Pet First Aid/CPR

* Taken several business seminars via our local Chamber of Commerce

 

How long did it take you to build up your clientele? When I initially assumed ownership, there was a small client base in place. I hit the ground running & immediately started to grow the business.

 

Do you use staff sitters? I currently use ICs as their availability allows. I still do 60-75% of the total pet-care visits. It can be challenging, but I find it works best for my business model. I have no desire to have employees.

 

Do you offer any services besides basic in the client's home pet sitting and dog walking? (pet taxi, etc.) Yes, we offer pet taxi as well.

 

Which advertising methods worked best when you were a new business? Since I started with a base, initially I kept things status quo. I quickly started networking and also jumped on Facebook. Existing client referrals and having area veterinarians recommend our service became our best advertising methods.

 

Do you still use the same advertising methods? If not, what do you do differently now? Yes. I rely heavily on client and veterinarian referrals. Any advertising (paid) I do now is more in support of local events which helps in promoting our brand.

 

What's one mistake you've made as a professional pet sitter (when you were just starting out or at any time during your career)? What did you learn/what do you do differently now?

I’m not really sure I'd call it a mistake because it makes sense at first, but looking back, I wish I had chosen my clients more carefully. When you're a newbie, you tend to say "Yes!" to everyone and everything. I'm grateful to be in a place now where I can be selective with regards to whom I choose to work with. I recognize that I'm not always the right fit for every client and vice versa.

 

What advice would you give to new pet sitters?

Pet sitting is a marathon, not a sprint. Building a pet-care business takes time. Be willing to tweak things as you grow. Recognize the importance of cultivating relationships--with clients, with fellow pet-care professionals and with local small-business owners.

 

Are there any must-have business tools your business could not do without?

A good accountant who understands the nature of the industry

 

Do you schedule vacation time and/or days off? If so, how often?

YES! I typically schedule time off for the yearly PSI Conference and I also take days off here and there throughout the year. I find that if I give ample notice, clients are not only fine with it but encourage me to take time for myself.

 

Are there any tips you would share for establishing a healthy work/life balance?

The nature of pet sitting can be ALL encompassing. I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful support system. It's key to remember that we can't be ALL things to ALL people ALL of the time. Set boundaries. Self-care is critical and needs to be a priority.

 

Is there any other information about your business and/or what has helped you create a successful pet-sitting business that you'd like to share?

When I left secure employment with benefits nearly seven years ago to become a professional pet sitter, I had my share (and then some!) of naysayers. Many people thought I was crazy. Thank goodness for thick skin! Belief in myself and the willingness to follow my heart despite the "Debbie Downers" has proven to be one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I think my success is largely due to my passion for pets and their people. Pet sitting is personal and for me, relationships are the key. No two clients are the same. Every pet is unique. Every home is different. I pride myself on not being a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all type of sitter. I recognize my strengths and I own my weaknesses. “What you see is what you get” and so far, that's working well for me…very well!

All Posts