Things happen. You (and even your spouse) get suddenly ill, in an accident, or are somehow unable to get to your pets for a longer than usual amount of time. You call on friends or neighbors to help out, but your daily pet routine is more complicated than throwing some kibble in a bowl. Prepare now so your pets will be safe and cared for in your absence.
Start with vetting two or three people that you feel comfortable with granting access to your home — do this well in advance.
Stash a hide-a-key where it is extremely well hidden. Under the pot on the porch is no longer a secret. Some ideas: duct taped under your bbq in the backyard, taped to the inside of the recycle bin, buried under the quail statue in a ziplock bag. Get creative. Take a photo of its hiding place and include the photo in your instructions to your above mentioned new found pet caregiver.
If you have a security system, you will need to include detailed instructions for disarming and arming your system. Photos could be helpful here too.
Gather your pets food, medicines, and other supplies into a single area or at least make note of where to find these item inside your home.
Write out a detailed set of pet care instructions and keep it where it can be easily found.. Be very detailed as your pet caregiver volunteer may not be a pet person and may not have any idea what you are asking them to do.
Write down pet names and how to identify who is who.
Food and water requirements: Where to find the food in your home, serving size and frequency. Include the brand name of your food in case more is needed.
Potty instructions. Where and when.
What are their nighttime routines? Where do they sleep?
Medication frequency, where to find the meds, and how to administer.
Other special instructions including physical limitations.
Name and contact info for your vet and the emergency after hours vet.
Photos of your pets (yes, in case they get out).
Lastly, enter your caregivers contact information into your phone address book so you can contact them when needed.