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Pet Sitter

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Pet Sitter
Image by M.H. Kramer

Pet sitters provide daily care for pets while their owners are on vacation.

Duties

Pet sitters are responsible for all basic animal care while their clients are on vacation or traveling for business. Routine duties for a pet sitter include feeding, putting out fresh water, brushing pets, taking dogs on walks, and cleaning litter boxes. Additional services may include giving medications, vacuuming up pet hair in the house, or collecting the client’s mail or newspaper.

Pet sitters are also responsible for notifying owners and taking pets to the vet if they should become sick or suffer an injury while under their supervision. It is important that sitters require owners to fill out a detailed contact sheet with their contact information, their vet’s contact information, and relevant information about the pet (age, breed, weight, prior medical conditions, medications, etc).

Career Options

When starting a pet sitting business, the majority of pet sitters choose to offer services primarily for dogs and cats. Some also choose to expand their services to provide care for a variety of other animals kept as pets such as exotic birds, fish, horses, small mammals, and livestock. Each sitter is free to decide what animals they are comfortable caring for and what types of animals they prefer not to work with.

Some pet sitters are also professional groomers and may choose to offer grooming or bathing services in the client’s home. This can be an added benefit for the client, as they can come home to a clean, well groomed pet. Others operate a regular dog walking service, and offer pet sitting services on an as-needed basis when clients go out of town.

Pet sitters may choose to operate their business either on a full-time or part-time basis.

Education & Training

Pet sitters are not required to have any formal education or training, but they should be very familiar with all aspects of animal care and behavior. Most pet sitters have an extensive amount of hands on experience with the animals they choose to provide care for.

It is also useful for pet sitters to have some animal health care experience, such as prior work as a veterinary technician or veterinary assistant. Training in animal CPR and first aid is also valuable to those in this career, and can be a big plus on the sitter’s resume when trying to attract new clients.

Professional Groups

There are several professional membership groups for pet sitters. The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) is a nonprofit group that offers networking opportunities, insurance plans, publications, conferences, and a referral network to its members. Pet Sitters International (PSI) is another well known membership group that offers a start-up kit, insurance plans, conventions, and certification programs.

Salary

The amount of money a pet sitter earns depends on several factors: the number of client homes serviced per day, the number and type of pets kept at each location, and the going rate in that particular area. Most pet sitters charge between $8 and $15 per visit, depending on the services required. There are usually additional fees for administering medications, providing grooming or bathing services, or other special requests.

An established full-time pet sitter can expect to earn a salary in the range of $40,000 per year. It is possible to earn a much higher salary in some locations, particularly in cities where a pet sitter can accommodate more clients per day in a concentrated area. In some cases it is possible for a sitter to earn a six figure salary.

Some pet sitters hire additional staff members to expand their service area or to increase the number of clients they can accommodate per week. It is also possible to earn additional revenue by creating a franchise business and licensing additional pet sitting providers under your established brand name.

Career Outlook

According to the American Pet Product Association (APPA), consumer spending on their pets is showing sustained growth each year. According to the APPA, pet grooming and boarding services revenue increased from $3.79 billion in 2011 to an estimated $4.11 billion in 2012.

According to the 2011-2012 APPA consumer pet spending survey, pet owners spend an average of $274 each year to board a dog in a kennel. The survey also indicated that pet owners spend $166 each year to board a cat.

Since pet sitting services often cost less than boarding pets at a kennel, especially for multiple pet families, the demand for in-home pet sitting services is expected remain strong for the foreseeable future.

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