The Pet Guide: Pet Care Cost

Find out about pay rates and costs for pet care

Many folks treat their pets as part of the family and keeping a pet healthy is only part of the financial impact pet ownership has on a family or individual. Many factors impact cost, such as geographical location, number and type of pets, type of care needed (day, overnight, feeding, watering, exercise, etc.), and frequency of caregiving.

Keep in mind also that pet caregivers may charge by the hour for some tasks or by the job for others. Some current averages for basic pet care in most major metros are:

For dogs and cats:
  • Dog walkers...$10-$25 per day, for 1 dog
  • Dog and kitty day care...$15-$35 per day per pet
  • Kennel Boarding (small animal)...$20-$25 per day per pet
  • Pet hotels...$35-$90 per pet, varies with services provided
  • Groomers...$20-$85 per weekly visit, depending on service provided over a 6-8 week schedule

According to the latest survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Americans spent an estimated $40.8 billion on their pets in 2007, not including the cost of pet caregiving, such as dog walking, pet sitting and other types of pet care.

Your pet care costs depend very much on where you live, what your specific needs are, as well as the personal choices you make about pet food and regular veterinary care and insurance. Below are the averages for dog and cat products and services, outside of regular pet care (such as dog walking and pet sitting), that you can expect to find in most major metro areas.  Washington D.C. Pet Care may be a different cost than Denver Pet Care or Seattle Pet Care.  Research the costs in your area first before you offer a pay rate. 

For dogs:
  • Surgical Vet Visits...$453
  • Food...$217
  • Kennel/Boarding...$225
  • Routine Vet Check-ups...$219
  • Groomers and grooming aids...$127
  • Vitamins...$77
  • Treats...$66
  • Toys...$41
For cats:
  • Surgical Vet Visits...$363
  • Food...$188
  • Kennel Boarding...$149
  • Routine Vet Check-ups...$175
  • Groomers and grooming aids...$18
  • Vitamins...$31
  • Treats...$40
  • Toys...$26

Depending on where you live and who your vet is, a visit to an animal doctor's office can set you back anywhere from $30 to $70, a vaccination regimen from $50 to $100, and a spaying or neutering procedure from $50 to $200. A broken bone can set you back $1,000. Major surgery and the subsequent recuperation can cost you $2,000. In light of these prices, many pet owners are now purchasing pet health insurance, a practice highly recommended by The Humane Society of the United States.

More Pet Care Resources

Care.com article about Potential Costs for Pet Owners to Consider

Find a Dog Sitter today!

Find caring Cat Sitters today!

Steve Penhollow is the Arts and Entertainment Reporter for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in Indiana. He has written for a number of publications, including the Advocate chain of newspapers in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
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Comments (16)
Jennifer E.
I absolutely agree with you Mona. Hiring someone with a trained eye does give extra assurance. I myself am a Veterinary Assistant with full intentions of becoming an RVT soon. Being able to guide clients to small changes and educate when possible is greatly rewarding.
Posted: March 22, 2014 at 11:32 PM
Photo of Kelly R.
Kelly R.
I would like to start being a pet sitter. I love all animals beside snakes(Sorry)! I was wandering if I can just start by posting my information and my fees and background information about myself. I have a dog and I have a great fenced in yard to be able to watch animals at my home. Do you find it's better to watch animals at your home or the clients home. If you do babysit them at your house do you need insurance or what do u need to start a little program like that. I live out in the country and it's an awesome place to be a dog sitter plus I'm told I'm a dog whispere so I think I'm missing my calling! I would love to start this any suggestion? Thanks, Kelly
Posted: March 11, 2014 at 9:52 PM
Kathy D.
My experience, had been word of mouth, that my reputation has be such that I have repeat business. (I have not had to advertised) Depending on the size of the animals, behavior and special needs. I charge according to the criteria of the job.
Posted: March 08, 2014 at 6:51 PM
Veterinary Adelaide animal hospital
Pet care cost can be generally expensive but it s worth the cost. Thanks for sharing this information.
Posted: February 20, 2014 at 4:38 AM
Photo of Robyn B.
Robyn B.
what r the rates in Florida ANYONE know??
Posted: October 01, 2013 at 5:16 AM
Chris R.
I have been asked to care for a 7 month old Boston Terrier for a week. I have "dog sat" before for friends but never charged. What is the going rate for bringing a dog in for 24 hour care. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have met the dog twice and don't see any behavioral problems.
Posted: August 18, 2013 at 1:40 AM
Photo of Carol P.
Carol P.
Ok I quess I should be embarresed. Did watch the spaces left. Not even sure where it last left off. Anyway opinins welcome. I live east of Cleveland Oh., what do any of you think I should charfe if overnight sitter closer to home? What about if I get the 45 minutes needed 3 x a week at lunch hour? Charge more since takes my time, gas and may prevent me from other position? Appreciate replies.
Posted: June 12, 2013 at 8:17 PM
Photo of Carol P.
Carol P.
Any dog walking, cat olay and litter clean ip, siting witha pet, has been something I did as favor for others I know. I decided I love to meet different animals so why not get paid. I have a strong work ethic in whatever I do. Also want to make the family at ease and that they feel comfortable with me, and trust my abilities and morals. Helps to see some $ amounts for different types of positions offered. I will probably consider gas if a longer distance 2x a day. Also if only needed for an hour 3 x a week, then need to ask for more $ per visit since it isn't much work time to commit to. I am great with 4 legged pets
Posted: June 12, 2013 at 8:09 PM
Donna O.
how can anyone afford a dog walker 22-30.00 for 1/2 or 1 hr walk a day you can take them to a dog daycare for all day for less. so if you need someone just to walk your dog cuz you are physically unable forget it because you would need a second income
Posted: October 25, 2012 at 8:50 PM
Photo of Denise C.
Denise C.
Regarding pet care options, I think the thing to keep in mind is you get what you pay for. Sure, you can find people out there willing to take care of your dog for $20/day but do you really think a pet sitter is going to go out of his or her way to entertain your dog and make sure he's getting the best care possible for such little compensation? Not to say that a lot of pet sitters don't truly enjoy being around the dogs they care for. I run a dog boarding and dog daycare service and there are certain dogs that I would gladly take care of free of charge. That said, it simply doesn't make good business sense to give away services. Our dog boarding guests have the opportunity to go on long hikes, walks in the park, go running, and even swim. They are never left alone and have free access to most of the house. Additionally, owners receive periodic updates with photos so they know their dog is doing well. I feel we offer a lot more than you'd get with kennel boarding. As such, we charge $55-$65 per night for dog boarding, $40-$45 per day for dog daycare up to 12 hours.
Posted: October 12, 2012 at 7:53 AM
Lynne Metz
I love pets and they love me when they get used to me at first the need to bond
then we will have fun. I love walking them and playing ball with them and with cats too. I love it when the cats sit on my lap and play with catnip too. But most of all I love walking dogs and that helps me keep fit too.
Posted: May 20, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Charlene
My cat has a swollen face around his left eye. I looked at his teeth and saw that his gums are swollen. He is an indoor cat. He has been eating and drinking as normal. Could he have an absess? If so what can I do for it?
Posted: April 04, 2012 at 8:11 PM
Mona G.
I have been pet-sitting in addition to my full-time job as a veterinary technician for quite some time now. My fees are based on the distance I need to travel as well as the number of pets I will be taking care of (ther are no extra charges for things like walking the dog, scooping poop from yards or litterboxes, bringing in mail,putting out/bringing in trash cans, etc). Within a 5 mile radius from my home I charge $50/day for live-in, or $25/visit. This cost increases $5/pet after the first 3. As far as distance, the cost is $10/each additional 5 miles from my home to yours. This encourages care seekers to look for someone in close proximity to their home. That increases the chance of someone you know knowing the caregiver, either personally or professionally (another additional layer of safety!). One thing I've learned in my years working at various vet offices: the pet community is a small, well-connected world. Your name and your reputation are what follow you wherever you go, so being kind and genuine to my charges and their owners has always been my goal. Another word of advice to pet care seekers: hiring an experienced vet tech gives you the bonus of "trained eyes" caring for your pet. Sometimes subtle changes can signal the start of a medical issue that may go unnoticed by lay caregivers. A potentially blocked cat's life may be saved by the tech who notices them spending much unproductive time in the litterbox. A dog owner may be spared the tragedy of their beloved pet's death from bloat by the saavy caregiver who notices the abdomen is more distended after feeding time than when they arrived. This is not to say that accidents, medical crisis and tragedies can't happen on anyone's watch, but with more experienced veterinary staff caregivers, it's just a little extra insurance for you and your pets-less to worry about when you're away. There are a lot of us vet techs who pet sit in addition to our full-time job. We just can't seem to stop "playing with animals." Good luck to all who are seeking caregivers and their fees: hope this helps!
Posted: April 04, 2012 at 1:03 PM
Mona G.
I have been pet-sitting in addition to my full-time job as a veterinary technician for quite some time now. My fees are based on the distance I need to travel as well as the number of pets I will be taking care of (ther are no extra charges for things like walking the dog, scooping poop from yards or litterboxes, bringing in mail,putting out/bringing in trash cans, etc). Within a 5 mile radius from my home I charge $50/day for live-in, or $25/visit. This cost increases $5/pet after the first 3. As far as distance, the cost is $10/each additional 5 miles from my home to yours. This encourages care seekers to look for someone in close proximity to their home. That increases the chance of someone you know knowing the caregiver, either personally or professionally (another additional layer of safety!). One thing I've learned in my years working at various vet offices: the pet community is a small, well-connected world. Your name and your reputation are what follow you wherever you go, so being kind and genuine to my charges and their owners has always been my goal. Another word of advice to pet care seekers: hiring an experienced vet tech gives you the bonus of "trained eyes" caring for your pet. Sometimes subtle changes can signal the start of a medical issue that may go unnoticed by lay caregivers. A potentially blocked cat's life may be saved by the tech who notices them spending much unproductive time in the litterbox. A dog owner may be spared the tragedy of their beloved pet's death from bloat by the saavy caregiver who notices the abdomen is more distended after feeding time than when they arrived. This is not to say that accidents, medical crisis and tragedies can't happen on anyone's watch, but with more experienced veterinary staff caregivers, it's just a little extra insurance for you and your pets-less to worry about when you're away. There are a lot of us vet techs who pet sit in addition to our full-time job. We just can't seem to stop "playing with animals." Good luck to all who are seeking caregivers and their fees: hope this helps!
Posted: April 04, 2012 at 1:00 PM
Joann L.
My pet sitter charges only $50.00 per day/night and takes care of two dogs. Most pet sitters in this area are up to 100.00 a night, and than want to charge me $16.00 to $18.00 per visit during the day, or won't stay overnight at all. Denise is the most dependable pet sitter I have found. I go away and know my dogs are in the best of care (loved, attention beyond what I pay for), my home is safe and taken care of the way I would. Denise H. from Walnutport, PA is the BEST EVER!
Posted: October 09, 2011 at 1:23 PM
Alicia C.
What is typically charged by caregiver for two dogs if the client wants the caregiver to stay in their home while on vacation?
Posted: September 26, 2011 at 1:53 PM
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