Skills for house sitting

Hi again

Has anyone actually undertaken any courses that have helped with housesitting? Advanced animal care courses of any sort? Obviously you bring to it what you know as a pet owner but say for example things like Animal CPR ?And
if so, have these been recommended by any formal veterinary body? There seem to be a lot of online courses advertised but I wonder how good / specific these really are?



My partner followed a 1 day pet first-aid course in the UK. It was conducted by a vet, but he wasn’t overly impressed by it.
Probably nothing you can’t find online…

We have access to lots of free digital resources through our public library. From Gale Courses, I took a veterinarian-taught course called Start a Pet Sitting Business and it included a lot of modules on animal care, first aid, vaccinations, etc. I also found a couple of courses on edX (I think it has just changed to 2U) and took a couple of free courses on animal behaviour and bird care. When we were about to care for horses (guided by a trainer) we watched quite a view YouTube videos on horse care, which helped us feel more prepared.


No I have never although I have first aid certification and basic life experience. Does any pet owner take pet courses before they bring their pet into their home?

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My husband went on a pet first aid course at our local vets. It was worthwhile as his certificate is on our profile and has attracted positive comments from HO with dogs, @apresmoiledeluge


We did a first aid course as well through a UK charity, PDSA… it cost us £5 each (plus a donation and we invested in a pet first aid kit which is in our car always) and was the most informative days I’ve spent in terms of understanding pet issues, pet CPR, choking, bloat and other common ailments. Very worthwhile :slight_smile:


@CandAsitters and @Vanessa-Admin : That sounds very interesting : I wonder if some charity or vet do these kind of course in France ? I may search…

Maybe you could share the link on the blog or some other place. A story about your experience would be good for the main site. Am I the only one that enjoys the stories etc. on the site?

Here’s the link to the website @ElsieDownie but I believe they had to stop the courses when Covid struck… classroom safety etc. I can’t see anything on there. I’ve always stopped short of writing about pet care as I’m not an expert and would hate to advise incorrectly, but I’ve spent five years writing about house sitting for my magazine, so I’m with you on enjoying reading stories - I love them! There are some great new articles that have been recently uploaded on the TrustedHousesitters blog :slight_smile:

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My concern would be something going wrong while you are administering first aid to the beloved pet and making it worse. Also thinking you know the issue because you have done a day course and not calling a vet for a professional opinion. Understanding this does not apply to everyone, first aid courses (for humans) need to be renewed on a regular basis and are quite detailed. I would think a course for £5 online would be the same level of common sense.
This is just my personal opinion and I understand others won’t agree. :slightly_smiling_face:

I understand @Mslaura entirely your point, but in defense of the PDSA they are a vet charity (I didn’t explain that well enough, sorry) and the instructors were vets. They help people who own pets but can’t afford expensive vet care and so also subsidize their courses to help pet owners gain at least some basic knowledge in emergency situations and it really was high quality instruction. Far better than any of the regular “human” first aid courses I attended while still working :slight_smile:

They were also very clear about when a vet should be contacted and what to do and what not to do in an emergency situation.

They are teaching basic emergency responses, just like we should all know for humans, but sadly many have no idea what to do in case of heart attack, or concussion, or a fall. The same for pets, and I suspect many don’t know how to read the colour of gums as an indication of an emergency, or even how to take a heart rate reading on various different animals, how to identify bloat and how important it is to get a vet quickly involved, or how to administer safe CPR in remote locations where vet access is limited.

So yes, I would say definitely do research on the quality of the instruction and do not see a first aid course as a precursor to making decisions reserved for professional vets, but this was 8 hours of solid instruction from a vet and we were very reassured that we can now identify an emergency situation.

As house sitters any such situation would involve the owners and their vets as well, but we know that in certain situations we would be clear headed and knowledgeable enough to handle the situation as best as possible until professional help arrived. But you do make a good point, thankyou.


Hi all thanks for your responses. I will research.

When I used to work at the animal shelters, I was able to take their animal care courses which included basis care, diet behaviour and do their First Aid and CPR courses organised through the American Red Cross when I lived in California. The First aid/CPR was an all day event and you had to buy the book. I review the book about every six months to keep refreshed as the certificates do not have an expiry. For more advanced animal training, I think it is best to find an accredited educational course at recognised international standards and there are plenty of those. When i did some research, I found the Aussie thorough and comprehensive and would probably be recognised in the uk whereas with the U.S. there is not the same level of reciprocity.
The ones you often see online do not tell you anything about the credentials of the instructors and as we all know there are vets and there are”vets”. Just as you would be discriminating about which vet you would take a sick pet to, you would want to make sure that you are not getting a certificate that does not stand up to good credentialling.

I don’t quite understand your there are vets and there are vets?

In the UK to call yourself a vet you must have a honours university degree in veterinary husbandry, a very difficult qualification on par with doctors and dentists.

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I totally understand what is required to be a fully credentialled vet. Personally, I know of practising vets who are unable to make good physical assessments! One example was where the vet had said a family pet was dehydrated and needed iv fliuds and when taken to another vet, the pet was not dehydrated at all but had cancer. Another case with a different pet was where an undescended testicle was causing a major problem and the the first vet did not identify the problem. People may have good qualifications on paper but cannot always put into practice what they learn in school. Trust explains what I mean about getting good vet care.

I have to take your word on that. Very rarely have I had dealings with vets because of domestic pets. Most of my interaction with vets has been for livestock and I have to say I’ve never met one that doesn’t know their job.

Vets sometimes get it wrong just like human docs do. I took a dog I was watching to the emergency vet because he was vomiting large quantities. The vet said it was due to anxiety because his owners had gone. I disagreed because I had cared for the dog two years earlier, he probably remembered me and was a happy, energetic, dog who ate well when I had him last and at the vet’s office, he was uncooperative and clearly hated being there. The vet still included this diagnosis in her discharge summary but did prescribe metronidazole and Cerenia, at my request as I insisted he had probably picked up a bug. He had seemed very interested in a dead bird I spotted after the fact and disposed of when I found. When his owners returned he was still lethargic and not eating well — not the behavior of a dog that was simply anxious. Fortunately, he was recovered a week later.

You do not have to take my word for it. If you reach out to owners and sitters for feedback, you might be surprised about what you find. I know of a family who will not use a vet but will take their pet to the animal hospital. Just as you might want to see copies of your own blood work and medical tests, for me it is best to take the extra step to be safe than sorry. In my own healthcare, important diagnoses were missed 3 times and so I trust my own instincts about making good decisions.