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One of the best parts of being a pet sitter is taking-on the roll of favorite aunt or uncle. We give our full attention to the dog when we visit…rather than talking to their humans all the time. We play, we walk with them, talk with them, we hug and rub tummy, and most importantly…we hand out treats! They think we’re the best thing on two legs!

Keeping the Animal’s Health in Mind

But before you get too excited and slip your hand in your pocket for the ever present treat during your meet-and-greet visit…find out if the dog or cat has allergies or sensitivities to certain foods. (And make good notes so you never forget!)

Lots of animals on special diets eat grain-free food. Right away you can wipe most grocery-store brand cookies and treats off your list. Because we also board one or two dogs here in our home, we keep a small bag of premium dog food on hand just in case we need it, too. I’m not a fish lover (the kibble comes complete with mouth-watering fishy smell) so I bought grain-free chicken kibble. It wasn’t until a sudden snowstorm blew up and the dog we had here for the day wasn’t going to be able to go home until morning that I realized my mistake. Chicken is one of the top problem foods for dogs with allergies!

(Just to finish the story…it happened to be New Year’s Eve and my husband was having a New York Strip steak for dinner. Something we have in the house only a few times a year. Unfortunately for him, once the tin of salmon was gone…there was only the steak left that the dog could eat…for dinner and the following morning’s breakfast. So, steak and vegetables it was for the pair of them. It was a New Year’s Eve to remember and I bought a bag of salmon grain-free food the following week.)

We have other dogs that have problems with wheat only (just like humans!)  A couple can’t tolerate MilkBones, which I expect has something to do with the milk. Many others won’t touch anything but MilkBone…no store brands for them.

One dog will be set off with a lengthy bout of rashes and needs constant baths and pills if he eats anything but his prescription diet.

So far I’ve come across only one dog who has a sensitivity to meat protein! She’s on a vegetarian diet that includes special treats. No freeze-dried liver for her, poor girl.

Most pet sitters I know have one jacket/pant pocket filled with poo bags and the other filled with assorted treats. Just remember to ask the human with the dog or cat if they can have a treat before the animal realizes your intention. You don’t want to have to explain to a big brown-eyed furry face why you’ve put the treat back in your pocket!

Until next time…have fun out there!