Finding the Perfect Pet Sitter

In a perfect world, we could take our pets everywhere. This isn’t the case as people work and travel. Not every office and destination welcomes pets, so there are times we have to entrust our four-legged friends to other people. 

These lifesavers are known as pet sitters. In the simplest terms, a pet sitter is a temporary caregiver who takes care of your pet when you can’t. These people will either take care of your furbaby in their home or drop by your residence several times a day to feed your pet, walk it, and hopefully offer some playtime. More advanced pet sitter responsibilities include administering medications and taking animals to vet appointments.

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Just like parents carefully vet babysitters, pet owners carefully evaluate a person or service to take care of their furbabies. One of the most important reasons to find the right pet sitter is that animals cannot tell you if something goes wrong. While their behavior can tip you off if something went wrong, this is not a guarantee. Not to mention you want the peace of mind knowing you left your pet in good hands. Here are some things to consider when it comes to hiring a pet sitter and what constitutes a reasonable rate for their services.

Evaluate Needs

woman walking with a small brown dog

When agreeing on pet sitter rates, you need to evaluate your pet’s needs and the tasks you need the caregiver to carry out. Regarding your pet(s), consider how many animals you have, if they have any special needs, how much time needs to be spent with your pet(s), and the size/breed of your animals. A Pomeranian is easier to handle than a Great Dane. This brings up the next determining factor: how experienced the pet sitter is. While you don’t want a rookie for even the smallest of dogs, you certainly don’t want a novice handling a large, strong dog that requires a veteran handler.

Another need to include in pricing is if your pet requires special food preparation. For example, some dogs eat raw food or need very mild foods like chicken and rice. This requires much more effort than opening a can of food or putting some kibble in a dish. This factor will result in a higher bill.

Make sure you understand your pet’s food needs before explaining them to someone else.

Next, consider if you need the pet sitter to perform tasks other than taking care of your four-legged friends. This could include simple chores like getting the mail, taking out the trash, watering plants, buying pet food, taking your pet to the groomer, or operating a home alarm system. These might seem like small tasks, but they all add to the price of a pet sitter because you have added to their responsibilities.

How Much is Your Pet Worth?

When it comes to pet sitting rates, don’t get complicated and determine what reasonable based on a flat rate or a demographic rate is. Regarding a flat rate, fair pay is $15 per hour for one dog or cat. If you need someone to stay or board your pet overnight, expect to pay $75 for a dog or $40 for a cat. If you need someone to tend to your pet for a week, be prepared to pay $400. For multiple pets, add $10 per pet to these rates. For holidays, add $5 per visit or $10 per day/night and pet. If your pet is a puppy, add $5 to every base or holiday rate. If you want a pet sitter to double as a house sitter, expect to pay $30-$65 a day. 

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If your rates are based on your area, they can vary significantly. While some charts place pricing at approximately $12-$17 an hour, the upper end can be much higher. In Charlotte, NC, and other larger cities in the state, be prepared to spend at least $15 an hour for a pet sitter. In New York City, it is not uncommon to charge $21 an hour and up. When it comes to pets that require medication, some pet sitters charge $200 a day. If you need the caregiver to take a pet to be bathed or groomed, add $75 for the appointment. 

Like many other service providers, be prepared to tip your pet sitter. The appropriate amount is 15%-20% of the entire bill. Depending on how long the person watched your pet, the quality of care, and if they tended to your home are all factors when it comes to tipping. If they exceeded your expectations, consider offering an even larger tip.

Did your pet sitter go above and beyond? Here is how you know you found the right person to care for your furbaby.

Finding a Trustworthy Sitter

Pensive black man using laptop while Akita Inu resting on floor

Finding a person you can trust to care for your pet is a serious task. Some questions to ask a prospective pet sitter are if there are members of an applicable professional organization. These could be the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, Professional United Pet Sitters, or the Association of Pet Sitting Excellence. Another good thing to look for is general liability insurance. Ask for 3-5 recent references and inquire if the individual is trained in pet CPR. If you are looking for someone to perform simple chores or double as a house sitter, be transparent about this. Finally, arrange a meet and greet between the person and your pet. Perhaps the most crucial aspect of hiring a pet sitter is listening to your instincts. While he/she might seem like a great choice if you have even a hint of hesitation, look for someone else.

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The bottom line, pets are family. When looking for a pet sitter, make sure you find someone who will love your four-legged kids as much as you do. Pets are expensive, and you should not cut corners when it comes to their care. Part of being a responsible pet parent is having the financial resources to give your furbaby the life they deserve. So when the time comes that you cannot be there to care for your pet, entrust it to someone who will treasure your companion as much as you do.