As a pet sitter you are the caretaker of your clients pets and are responsible for their wellbeing.  Clients expect you to be knowledgable about common pet health problems and behavior issues so that you can spot the early warning signs and take action before a condition becomes serious. The more knowledgable you are – the more you can become a valued resource for your clients. 

There are many ways to build your knowledge. Here are my top 10:

1. Read industry publications including blogs, magazines, e-zines and books

2. Volunteer at local humane society or animal rescue organizations. They often need volunteers to help with dog walking, cat care, and administration of vaccinations and medication.

3. Join a pet lovers online forum and read posts that people make about their pets health problems. As you become more aware of problems and solutions you can start to offer suggestions and resources (don’t forget to include your website link in your signature)

4. Participate in a 4-H or a local dog club

5. Find a local trainer and/or veterinarian to be your mentor

6. Take local community education classes or online education

7. Create your own pet blog for your pet sitting clients – it will force you to stay current with pet industry trends and is a great marketing tool for your pet sitting business

8. Attend a Pet First Aid training course. Courses are held by your local Red Cross and by Pet Tech instructors – www.pettech.net

9. Interview pet health and behavior experts – use the information to create a handout for your customers (another great marketing tool)

10. Participate in local animal health awareness initiatives.For example, if there’s a fund raiser or even to raise money for a rescue organization participate. You’ll learn a lot and help the animal community at the same time

Here are some websites where you can do some research:

Pet Health Web Sites:

Information from the US National Library of Medicine – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/pethealth.html

Cat Chat UK registered cat rescue organization – http://www.catchat.org/health_care.html

Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine Library – http://www.lib.utk.edu/agvet/veterinary/pethealth.html

The Internet Animal Hosptial – http://www.thepetcenter.com/

American Animal Hospital Association: http://www.healthypet.com/

Washington State College of Veterinary Medicine – http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/ClientED/

Pet Behavior Web Sites:

SPCA Dog Behavior Library –
www.sfspca.org/behavior/dog_library/index_library.shtml

Humane Society Dog Behavior Tip Sheets –
www.hsus.org/pets/pet_care/our_pets_for_life_program/dog_behavior_tip_sheets/