The Essential Pre-Travel Checklist: Preparing Pet Sitters for Pets Undergoing Chemotherapy

Traveling without your pet can be stressful, especially when your furry friend is undergoing chemotherapy. Whether you’re away for business or leisure, preparing your pet sitter with the right information is critical for providing your pet with consistent and effective care in your absence. Here’s what every pet owner with a chemotherapy pet should consider before heading out!

Why This Stay is Different

Caring for a pet undergoing chemotherapy isn’t just about maintaining a routine—it’s about adapting to the evolving needs of a pet whose health and comfort can change rapidly. It’s imperative that your pet sitter understands the responsibility involves more than just feeding and walking; it extends to closely monitoring your unique pet’s health, managing complex medication regimens, and being prepared to act quickly in case of any emergencies.

For pet owners, discussing all these details with a pet sitter before leaving is essential.

Key Information Your Pet Sitter Needs 

1. Post-Treatment Reaction:

Chemotherapy can cause a range of side effects in pets, including nausea, decreased appetite, lethargy, and vulnerability to infections. Pet sitters should be aware of these potential issues and know how to spot the signs of distress or complications. They should also know how to provide supportive care, such as making sure your pet stays hydrated and comfortable.

Frenchie being assessed at home while pet sitting.

2. Medication Details:

Pet sitters need to be meticulous in administering medications to your pet. It’s important that your pet sitter knows about all current medications your pet is taking, any changes since the last visit, and whether any medications will need refilling during your absence. This avoids unnecessary emergencies and keeps your pet’s treatment uninterrupted.

3. Appointment Logistics:

Share your calendar with your pet sitter so they are aware of the exact dates, times, and locations of upcoming appointments. This simple step prevents missed appointments, keeps treatments on schedule, and allows your pet sitter to see the full picture of your particular pet and their care routine.

4. Decision-Making Authority:

If your pet sitter is to make any medical or financial decisions in your absence, you must authorize this in writing at your veterinary practice. Clearly define what decisions they can and cannot make regarding your pet’s health and care. Having this done in advance permits your veterinarian to take proper care of your pet and relieves any stress on the sitter in case of emergencies.

5. Payment Arrangements:

Decide how payments will be handled for services rendered during your absence. You might prefer to pre-pay, use a remote payment link, or send payment with your pet sitter. This is another tip for peace of mind for your pet sitter. Treatments and vet visits can be expensive!

6. Handling Chemotherapy Safely:

Your pet sitter should be well informed on how to handle chemotherapy medications safely if needed, recognize signs of side effects, and manage them appropriately. Our recommendation is to have a quick training with your sitter. Give them plenty of time for questions and hands-on learning. You can even provide them with a guide you create, this can be incredibly helpful so they don’t have to call with every question!


White German Shepherd at home.

7. Observing Subtle Signs of Distress:

Educate your sitter on the less obvious signs that your pet is not feeling well. Whether it’s a lack of appetite, unusual behaviors around food, or other subtle symptoms, your sitter should know what to look out for. You know your pet best; be their advocate!

8. Emergency Contacts:

Always provide your pet sitter with contact information for your veterinary clinic and local emergency hospitals. Having multiple contacts is helpful, especially if your regular veterinary hospital is unavailable. It’s also imperative that pet sitters know what to do in case of an emergency. This includes having a clear plan for contacting the vet, understanding the symptoms that require immediate veterinary attention, and knowing the location of the nearest emergency animal hospital.

Creating Continuous Care

Preparing your pet sitter with these eight items not only gives your pet the best care possible, but also provides peace of mind while you are away. Remember, a pet sitter for a chemotherapy patient does more than just feed and walk your pet—they become a critical support system that helps maintain your pet’s health and wellbeing.

Choose someone you and your pet trust. Be clear about what your expectations are for regular updates, either through calls or messages. Proper preparation can make a huge difference for all involved! If you have any concerns or need further advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian. We are here to help your pet live a happy, healthy life—even when you can’t be there.

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Contributing DVM