Intrepid Pet Sitters

2 Pet Sitters

Best friends Inés and Ale are animal lovers through and through. After being housemates for several years in Melbourne, the friends decided to explore more of Australia and joined Mindahome in 2021 to begin their travels.

Heading to the sunny shores of Queensland, Inés and Ale house and pet sat around the sunshine state’s tropical Daintree region. Working from home allowed them to explore many natural wonders of the area, while also being around to give the pets they cared for copious amounts of love and affection.

After growing up with animal companions, Inés and Ale are always ready to step up as fill-in pet parents for the pet pals they meet – and end up adoring! – during their pet sits.

“Pet sitting has allowed us to explore many different places. But while staying for free is a great bonus to the pet sitting lifestyle, for us, it’s more about our love of animals. We both grew up around nature and surrounded by animals, so pet sitting gives us a chance to get the best of both worlds and meet new pets and people,” Inés said.

“Sometimes we get on so well with the pets that we care for that we checkPet Sitter with dog in with owners even after the sit to see how their dog or cat is going,” Ale added.

As pet sitters, the two friends have explored many places around Queensland, including Cairns suburbs of Trinity beach, Smithfield, Edmonton, and Mount Sheridan. They’re open to all house and pet sits, with caring for dogs and cats their speciality. They also find they connect best with pets over longer (multiple weeks) pet sits.

“On one pet sit, the pet parents asked that we take their dog to a different beach every day. Of course, we were very happy to oblige because it meant we could also discover new places while we ran around with our adorable doggie friend,” said Ale.

“We’ve cared for a dog that loved to play tennis, elderly pets, fish and of course, we’ve enjoyed lots of cuddles and playtime with the dogs and cats we mind,” said Ine.

“There’s never a dull moment – which we love! We feel really lucky that wecan meet all these different animals, get to know them and their family and give them the love and attention they need, especially when they might feel a bit uneasy because their owner is away,” Inés added.

Inés and Ale’s tips for anyone looking to start house and pet sitting?

  1. Make the care of the pets and the home a number one priority.

“It’s a big decision to leave your pets and your home in the hands of someone else, so we take this responsibility very seriously. We ask pet owners about their pet’s routines and stick to them. We also make sure that the house is clean and tidy when the owners return so they can just relax and unwind when they get back.”

  1. House and pet sit because you love animals.

“Most places we’ve stayed have involved caring for a pet, so you have to be a pet lover. It’s also best to be upfront about the animals that you’re comfortable caring for and your experience with different animals.

  1. Make house and pet sitting work for you.

“Pet sitting can be a win/win situation for everyone. We’ve been lucky enough to travel to different places and saved so much money because we’ve chosen to house and pet sit. If you have the flexibility of working from home to care for animals and are on a budget, house and pet sitting can be a great way to help out pet owners as well as achieve some of your own personal goals as well.”

Get in touch with Inés and Ale via the Mindahome website.

 

Loving Lizards: Care tips

Lizards

They may not top the list for ‘most huggable pets’, but lizards are wonderous creatures that can deliver companionship like no other. They are quiet and can be easy care creatures. However, lizards and other reptiles still require attention and affection to lead happy, healthy lives. Here are some tips and considerations to start your lizard-loving friendship.

Permits: Do not take animals from the wild as this can damage the native ecosystem and biodiversity. Lizards and reptiles should be purchased from licensed dealers or breeders. Permits are required to keep some reptiles as pets. There are specific rules and guidelines required by each state or territory, which are detailed on the NSWQLDVICSANTTASACT, and WA government websites. There are also minimum age restrictions for applying for a permit to keep a reptile.

Food: As omnivores, lizards enjoy a range of foods. Vegetables and insects such as crickets, cockroaches and snails make up a well-balanced diet for lizards. Like all pets, fresh water is vital and should be cleaned regularly – at least twice a week.

Habitat: Your lizard’s home should be draft and escape-proof. There should also be heating and lighting in the enclosure as lizards require heat to remain active and to help digest food. Monitor the temperature of the habitat, especially if using under-tank heaters, ceramic heaters, or basking bulbs to provide gradual heating throughout. Plants, rocks and branches will help your reptilian friend feel more at home and offer a place to hide and feel secure.

Holding lizards: Ensure you know your lizard’s breed personality, as some are more aggressive than others. Never pick up a lizard by its tail, and depending on the size of your lizard, you may need to handle them carefully – see handy tips here.

Health: Metabolic Bone Disease is common among lizards and can be caused by not having enough exposure to ultraviolet light or enough calcium in their diet. Symptoms include weakness in lifting itself, tremors and seizures. Seek advice from your vet if you are concerned about your lizard’s health.

Check out this lizard care sheet for more information about welcoming a lizard into your home.

Sources:

https://www.petbarn.com.au/petspot/reptile/care-and-maintenance-reptile/australian-reptile-licences-need-know/

https://petsdomain.com.au/pages/caring-for-your-reptile#:~:text=Your%20lizard%20should%20be%20fed,at%20least%20twice%20a%20week.

https://www.rspcansw.org.au/blog/animal-care-information/need-to-know-getting-a-licence-for-your-reptile/

The secret life of cats

It’s the question that divides animal lovers across the globe – are you a dog person or a cat person? While we’re not taking sides either way, it’s cats that have an uncanny way of making you love them that simply draws you in to learn more about these majestic creatures.

Caring for feline friends requires finesse, gentility, and cunning to find out their secret wants and needs. We’ve honed in on some of the best tips for caring for cats – decoded by cat lovers – to give you the upper hand in cat companionship.

Tip #1: Let them tell you how they’re feeling

Like us, cats can experience a range of emotions and will often let you know how they feel through their behaviour. Timid, shy cats often hide under beds, lounges and other furniture and keep their distance until they feel comfortable with you. Others are more willing to investigate new arrivals and come up and sniff you or rub against your leg for attention. It’s important to understand the boundaries our cats set for us when we first meet and then earn their trust as we spend more time together.

Tip #2: Lots of cuddles

Not all cats love to snuggle, but many do. Often cats will find their most comfortable position – and let you fit around them! Grab a blanket to protect your lap against little claws as your cat paws to find their perfect position and enjoy some cuddle-up time.

Tip #3: Playtime

Happy cats love to play. Daily play with your kitty with toys that stimulate their minds and bodies will nurture a happy feline friend, and a strong bond between pet parent and kitty. Playtime can include grooming too. Get a suitable grooming brush and make sure your cat becomes accustomed to how it feels. While giving your cat a massage-like experience, brushing also helps prevent matted fur.

Tip #4: Routine

Many cats like routine. Set times for meals, playtime and sleep time. Cats may rub against your legs or meow to let you know they’re ready to eat. A cat with a healthy appetite is a happy cat! Speak with your vet about the most nutritious diet for your cat’s breed and ensure fresh water is always available. Cats can also be quite picky when it comes to a clean environment. Keep litter boxes clean to ensure you get your cat’s tick of approval.

Tip #5: Alone time

Everyone needs some time to themselves – even our cats. Whether they want to spend time gazing through the window to the outdoors (always ensure second-level windows are closed or have screens so kitty can’t jump out), sleeping or exploring around the neighbourhood, we need to respect their time to be by themselves, undisturbed.

Many cat-loving pet sitters are part of the Mindahome community. Browse pet sitters online to read about their experience caring for feline friends.

Are you a pet sitter that loves cats? Search specifically for cat sits across Australia to find a new feline friend to snuggle up to on your next sit.

Eye health for pets

Wind, dirt, and dust can all irritate our pet’s eyes. While it may be hard to identify eye problems in our pets, it’s important to monitor for signs and get advice from a vet as soon as symptoms appear.

Signs that things may not be quite right with your pet’s eyesight include redness, frequent blinking or squinting, or yellow or green discharge from the eyes. Perhaps you have noticed your pet has a new sensitivity to light, or is bumping into things more often – this could also indicate a problem with your pet’s vision.

Eye disorders can be minor to very serious. Here are some ailments that can impact our furry, four-legged friends.

General irritation: Environmental conditions could lead to eye irritation for dogs and cats. Windy days can carry dust and dirt through the air and cause irritation in the eyes. Perfumes, cleaning chemicals, and smoke can also irritate our pet’s eyes. If your pet is rubbing its eyes more than usual, seek advice for treatment.

Eye infections: Like humans, pets can get conjunctivitis, which is contagious and can be passed to other pets. Discharge, puffy, and red eyes are all signs of conjunctivitis, which is best assessed and treated by a vet.

Dry eye: Dry eye can be a disorder of the immune system, which occurs when the tear glands become inflamed and are unable to produce the normal amount of tears that the eyes need to stay lubricated and healthy.[1] Dry eye can be painful and can worsen if left untreated. Seek advice from your pet for medication or treatment options.

Serious eye problems: Our pets can also be prone to eye health issues such as cataracts and glaucoma, which can be hereditary but can also be due to other factors. Underlying health issues such as diabetes could contribute to cataracts. If you notice cloudiness in your pet’s eyes, seek advice on the next steps. Glaucoma occurs when there is a build-up of pressure inside the eye that eventually damages the eye structure (the optic nerve and retina).[2] Eye examinations by a qualified vet will be able to determine the most appropriate diagnosis and treatment for your pet.

Note: The above is guidance only and not to be used as medical advice. Always seek expert advice from a qualified vet if you have concerns about your pet’s health.

[1] https://www.petsecure.com.au/pet-care/caring-for-your-dogs-eye-health/

[2] https://www.petsecure.com.au/pet-care/caring-for-your-dogs-eye-health/

 

Ageing Gracefully

Ageing pets

Growing older…. It’s the one constant in life that affects all of us – even our beloved pet pals. While pups and kittens will be bounding around the yard playing catch, our canine and feline friends may be slower to get to the ball.

While it depends on breed and size, generally dogs are considered ‘seniors’ at seven years old and cats today are ‘senior’ from approximately 11 years. Signs of ageing include general slowing down in their activity, more interest in sleeping, a cloudy tinge in their eyes or loss of muscle and weight gain.

As our pets age, their physical and mental well-being needs greater attention, and any noticeable changes in their behaviour should be reviewed by a vet. Our pets may be more prone to health issues as they age, such as arthritis and dental disease, but it’s also their emotional and mental well-being that needs extra care as they age.

Whether you’re a pet parent or filling in for one on a pet sit, it’s important to be aware of a pet’s life stage and their specific needs to live their best life.

Diet

Throughout their lives, our pet pals should have access to a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Gradually switching to a seniors diet may help your pet’s digestion, provide extra minerals for heart and kidney health and a boost to their protein intake. Provide pets with a high-quality diet and ensure it meets the Australian Standard for Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food, and always seek advice from a vet before changing your pet’s diet.

Mobility

It’s likely that an animal’s movement and energy levels will decrease as they get older. There are health conditions that will limit your pet’s mobility, so it’s best to get these identified and treated as soon as they become evident. For instance, if left untreated arthritis can be painful for animals and impact their overall well-being and happiness. If your pet has difficulty getting up after a rest or shows reluctance to jump up onto furniture, this could be a sign of arthritis. Get this checked out with a vet and continue to monitor your pet’s progress.

Exercise

While they may not seem as interested in exercising when they’re older, you need to continue regular exercise with senior pets to support their mobility. Adjust routines to suit your pet’s ability – exercises may be gentler, walks may be shorter and consider exercise such as swimming, which is easier on their joints.

Dental Care

Dental hygiene for pets is often overlooked, with dental disease affecting 80% of dogs by the age of three.[1] Dental disease can cause infections in the teeth and gums and can lead to more serious health issues with the kidney, liver or heart. Get your pet used to regular teeth brushing from a young age to avoid painful dental disease later in life.

Sensory Considerations 

As our pets age their sight, hearing and taste may be affected. If your pet has low vision, gently announce yourself when you approach them. If they have hearing loss, help them become familiar with hand signals or other cues to help them understand.

Mental Enrichment

Pets need mental stimulation throughout every stage of life, and it is just as important when they’re older. Continue to include your pet in family activities and outings, provide scent or food puzzles aligned with their ability and spend quality time with your four-legged friend to reduce cognitive decline in their later years.

Always consult a vet if you are concerned about your pet’s physical or mental well-being to get professional advice about treatments and strategies for senior animal care.

For more detailed advice about caring for older dogs, download the RSPCA Pet Insurance’s Old Pet Care eBook or see Templestowe Veterinary Clinic’s website.

[1] https://www.rspcapetinsurance.org.au/getattachment/pet-care/health/Older-pet-care-Guide-to-caring-for-older-dogs-(eB/article-documents-geriatric-pet-care-guide-ebook.pdf.aspx

 

Brush up on animal care skills for a happy pet

 

Malamute

Whether you’re a proud pet parent or an animal-loving pet sitter, brushing up on animal care credentials will not only give you more confidence to care for your pet-pal, but it will also result in a happier pet.

There are loads of animal care courses available that can help you take your pet care experience from wow to woweeeee! It’s all dependent on how much you want to drill down and specialise in animal care.

For those looking for short courses to delve deeper into caring for pets, Finder has listed a range of short courses that cover natural and holistic pet care, dog health and first aid, dog massage, health care tips for cat owners, and bird care and many more.

If you’re thinking of catapulting your love of animals into a career, Tafe Courses Australia offers animal care courses that allow you to hone on in what you love most about animals with Certificates in Animal Studies, Companion Animal Services and Pet Grooming.

If you’re still undecided, you can also find out more information about what it takes to become an animal care attendant, dog groomer, zookeeper, veterinary nurse and more!

Study in animal and pet care will ensure that whatever animal experience is ahead, you will be prepared to provide the best care possible. Extra study looks great on a pet sitter’s resume and for pet parents, extra care tips will never go astray.

Pet sitters have a range of experience in caring for pets and have a unique way of stepping into the role of pet parent while owners are away. To find an ideal pet sitter, browse pet sitter profiles online.

Setting the sleeping scene

pets sleeping

Do you like to snuggle up with a furry friend in bed or prefer a paw-free night’s sleep? The experts say that there are significant mental health and well-being benefits to cuddling up with a furry friend each night.

Of course, this sleeping arrangement doesn’t suit everyone and while a cuddly companion does bring comfort and reduce stress, they have also been found to disrupt our sleep.

In a survey of Mindahome pet sitters, 22% say that the pets they cared for wanted to sleep alongside them.

It’s understandable that pet parents and their fur kids get into certain habits, however, sleeping arrangements should always be discussed with a pet sitter before taking on the position.

Here are some of the questions pet sitters and owners should cover before a sit to ensure a stress-free experience – for pet sitter and pet!

  • Where does the pet sleep during the day and at night?
  • Do they like their own bedding or are they free to sleep on the couch, rugs and bed?
  • At night do they sleep in the bed or on the floor?
  • If they like to sleep in the bed, do they cuddle up close or prefer to have some space?
  • Are they toilet trained, or do they need to be let out at night?
  • Is the pet up to date with the flea and tick treatments?
  • How often should I change the pet/human bedding?

For pet sitters who prefer their own space at night, it’s best to include this preference as part of your profile. Alternatively, make it a point for discussion during initial conversations with pet owners.

For pet owners looking for their ideal pet sitter to keep their fur-kids company while they’re away, browse sitter profiles online. Pet sitters can also browse pet sitting positions online to find a furry friend to cuddle.

Pantry politeness

It’s a common question among our house and pet sitting community – what are the rules for pantry politeness? While there aren’t any hard and fast rules, per se, there is a sort of unwritten code that home and pet owners, along with pet sitters agree to that delivers a mutual understanding and respect for each other.

While it will differ for each home and pet sitting arrangement, here are a few things to consider to help determine whether you’re abiding by polite pantry procedure. Continue reading “Pantry politeness”

A considered list can be a valuable tool

housesitter list

Ask any pet sitter about their best asset going into a home and pet sit, and they will likely state ‘a list’. While ‘a list’ sounds like a run-of-the-mill requirement for a new pet sit, a good list is what will ensure both sitter and homeowner are prepared for any eventuality.

Mindahome member Kai takes a proactive approach to list-making and develops a list of questions for the homeowner to respond to before even stepping across the threshold. Continue reading “A considered list can be a valuable tool”

Timing house and pet sits

Pet Sitting

If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that preparation and adaptability are key. Home and pet owners can be looking to engage a pet sitter for a few days, several weeks, a couple of months and even more.

While the consensus among house sitters may be for homeowners to give at least one month’s notice for an upcoming sit, last-minute sits can be fruitful for both house sitters and homeowners.

Let’s unpack the various circumstances to see how best these can work for our animal-loving community. Continue reading “Timing house and pet sits”