Giving husbandry advice to pet owners

Is it inappropriate for house sitters to give advice to home owners regarding their pet husbandry and make them aware of severe mistakes which they are making?

Unless specifically asked for my advice, from experience, I can tell that HOs will give me the look saying that I obviously “don’t know my place”. Therefore my question: When shall/can/may/must we offer advice to home owners after our sit?

My current case is a severely over-fed 10-year old dog. He is obviously very overweight and barely able to run anymore, but the HO advised me to feed him three times a day a portion of food which would be big enough for a dog four time the size, plus give him several treats (ham and fatty bacon rashers) throughout the day. Quite honestly, I am not willing to do that and I am gradually cutting down on the treats and the massive lunch meal, because I know that so much food is really not good for this dog who sleeps about 20 hours a day and is hardly capable of walking more than half a mile.

Sure, I am risking a bad review if I don’t follow the HO’s instructions, but the wellbeing of the pet is more important to me. My question: How far can I go with educating the owner about proper nutrition without getting in real trouble?

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Wow. There is no chance I would choose to go against a pet owner’s instruction on care. We can have opinions on their choices all day long, but I would even hesitate to bring up concerns. If you think the pet is in danger of imminent harm from their care, you could consider contacting the local version of the ASPA. I don’t believe their feeding choices would fall under that though.

I just had an elderly dog that needed help. When owner asked how was she if she walked and about her energy. I advised perhaps she should do a geriatric exam and help for the end.

I’ve often wondered this myself….There is a way of saying things though and I would bring it up as diplomatically as possible when the owners return. Maybe you could say “I’ve noticed your dog sleeps a lot and has trouble walking and wonder if it might be because he’s eating too much”. It would concern me.

It’s tricky. Many HO’s consider their pets as their babies so it’s a bit like telling parents how to raise their children…

I understand your POV, but I would only give my opinion if specifically asked for it and even then I’d tread carefully.

Maybe you can lower his food intake while you’re there, but it might be very unlikely that the HO will continue to do so after you leave.
Or maybe he/she will and maybe they’ll be glad for the tips.

Hard to know, but personally, I wouldn’t give my opinion if it wasn’t asked for.

I wouldn’t go there. The HO obviously know their dog is overweight. Would you tell a friend with an overweight child to stop feeding them so much? It’s not going to go over well, and in less the dog is in IMMINENT danger I would mind your own business though of course, I understand your concern and realize it’s coming from a good place.

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This is a hard one. I haven’t needed to leave a negative review. You could say in your review that you were very uncomfortable feeding a very overweight dog so much food. None of us want to have to do this but maybe it would save a future sitter from being in the same situation.
Ann Marie

I completley agree with you here romano but it us a really difficult thing to approach.
I really believe a good 80-90% of the time no one knows the pets needs better than the owner and just as a sitter all be it a former pet owner its not for me to comment.
But ive sometimes wandered if or where id feel its necessary to crosss the line and give advice & then how to give it by coming across ok.
I think as sitters though we must owe some responsibilty on a pets welfare.
I think id be with you on cutting down on the dogs food, maybe say oh they didnt seem to be hungry/ need as much if the owner comments. It may be the owner really isnt aware.

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