By Sari Reis
If you have a dog or cat taking regular medication and you are planning to travel, it is important that you engage appropriate care for your pet.
As our companion animals age, many of them require medications or supplements to keep them healthy, manage their illnesses, or to keep them pain-free.
For diabetic animals requiring insulin injections and those requiring subcutaneous fluids, a vet tech or other experienced professional pet sitter should be employed. Even when an injection is not required, it is still important that you seek an experienced pet sitter who is comfortable with the health requirements to care for your furry kid.
Since medications come in various forms, you should always advise your pet sitter, in advance, that your pet requires medicine and how it is to be administered. Some medications are given orally, as with a pill or liquid syringe. Some are transdermal, often the inside of the ear. Or in the case of many flea treatments, applied to the skin on the back of the animal. Some are drops or ointments that are put into eyes or ears.
To assist your pet sitter in caring for your pet’s medical requirements as efficiently, effectively and safely as possible, I suggest you do the following. Make an easily readable list of the medications/supplements listing:
- How to administer: pill pocket, pill popper, placed directly in the mouth, wrapped in food (specify food, such as cheese or meat), syringe for liquids, mixed with their food, etc.
- When to give the medication: Some medications need to be a specific number of hours apart. Some are to be given with food, others on an empty stomach.
- Does the medication/supplement need to be refrigerated?
- List name and purpose of the medication: What condition is being treated. Also, please be sure the medication has not passed its expiration date.
- List specific dosage of each medication: If pills are used and the dosage is one-half or one-quarter pill, please pre-cut the pills and have them ready in the container. If syringe, please make a noticeable black mark on the syringe for the correct dosage.
- Clearly mark all bottles and containers with the name of the medication or supplement. Pharmacy labels are often hard to read.
- List possible side effects: Let the sitter know if it may cause diarrhea, sleepiness, etc.
Always prepare the needed supplements and medications and tools for delivery (pill poppers, spoons, syringes) ahead of time and have them in one place, except refrigerated items. If specific food is to be used to hide pills, make sure you have plenty on hand. Leave the contact information for your veterinarian readily available and the best number to reach you in an emergency.
Providing the special care your animal needs to stay healthy and comfortable is not a problem if both you and your pet sitter are well prepared.
—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting services. For more information you can contact her at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.