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 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 (29)
Photo of Jennifer T.
Jennifer T.
Areeja, In my case the $10/hr is also my per day minimum in order to make the job worth my time. I would assume most other pet care givers would also have a minimum charge. I don't work with time sheets, instead I work with the pet-owner to decide in advance how much time they want me to provide per day/weekend etc. and I make sure to stick to that.

Of course, every care-giver will have their own way of handling their rates, so I definitely recommend talking to several in your area to see what your options are. Hope I've been some help.
Posted: July 08, 2015 at 8:34 AM
Photo of Areeje A.
Areeje A.
I need someone to care for my 2 cats (feed and clean the litter) and feed 2 betta fish. most pet sitters here on their profile say they charge 10/h. I want to know how this works? THe job requires about 10 minutes per day. Does the pet sitter log in and out and then we can calculate how much I would pay for the duration I had their service?
Posted: June 15, 2015 at 7:04 PM
Hi... I pet sit for someone with at this time 7 dogs, all but one sighthounds. They get fed twice a day. Two have to have medication twice a day. One has to be separate from all others but her brother. I also am expected to get there the night before & drive them to the airport in the very early AM & pick them up from the airport on their return. I water the potted plants in 3 areas & garden, some trees out at the property line take the garbage out to the main road(about a 1/4 mile) deal with deliveries. Drive 180 miles to get there. I can eat what is there but buy allot of my own food. two of the dogs are not house trained and have accidents . Others also have slip ups. My 3 dogs come with me which is a big plus. She recently recommended me to a friend and in her email said I was a bit pricey. They pay me $75.00 a day & about 2/3 the price of gas. What would you charge for this? Hollister CA area. I am from Sacramento... others pay me 80.00 a day & 100.00 a day. for my sight hound customers... a family friend paid me 50.00 a day for her 2 chihuahuas . Ny other clients shop in food for me & most leave some money for supplies & emergencies etc.
Posted: June 02, 2015 at 3:13 PM
Photo of Susan W.
Susan W.
I am trying to find out coast when pet owners want you to feed the dog or cat 3 times a day. Is that one cost for the day or by the visit. If you have
any way to charge 3 dogs and the cats another. I appreciate any help anyone can give me.

Thank you all for your help.
Thank you for your input..
Posted: May 09, 2015 at 12:48 AM
Photo of Barbara L.
Barbara L.
Tami, most pet sitters would negotiate a rate that works for both parties. For example, it could be per dog or per hour or a set amount for the 10 days. For the services you require, I would charge 100.00-150.00 per day as an estimate
Posted: May 05, 2015 at 2:05 AM
How much do people charge for pet sitting for dog breeders who have a combination of dogs, older puppies, moms who just gave birth, and young puppies. All together there are about 50 dogs that need care for 10 days, laundry, dog feeding 3 times a days, medication to give, scooping dog poop, and answering the phone, taking the trash out to the street. Any thoughts on how much to charge?
Posted: May 02, 2015 at 7:38 PM
A broken spiral fracture in a cat can cost you over 6000$
Posted: April 29, 2015 at 4:45 PM
Photo of Bridgett O.
Bridgett O.
How many of you are bonded and insured?
Posted: April 05, 2015 at 1:26 PM
Photo of Carol P.
Carol P.
I haven't been in this forum since I was a newbie at paid pet care. Notice that ?'s don't get answered. Lady above me asked a ? and it was in Sept. 2011!! Doubt Alicia still wants a reply :). However I wondered about what to charge when I started doing this as paid work rather than volunteer as in past.

I still do not have an exact fee to quote for my pet care. My clients in my area have felt my fee was fair. For me it is what the job entails and possibly the distance. Dog walking 1 or 2 x aday, has to be within about 12 miles to keep gas cost down. Average is 1-2 dogs $12 a visit. If it is a sitting job, I charge by the day. I have cared for 2 cats for 7 days last year overnight and could leave for 3 hours a day.Consider 24 hrs. to be a day when staying in clients home. In the job mentioned latter, there was not much work as play or cuddles to me are not work.I charged $30 a day, so total $210. Clients were happy with me and had me back again. That's a great feeling that the pet parents feel the pets are getting quality care. They even tipped me the 7 day job an extra $50.They felt my fee was really low.

Personally, I also will take into account clients ability to pay. Usually charge less as long as I can live on what I get. Like many other pet care people, I enjoy spending time keeping pets loved and busy. I think about what I would want happening if they were my pets.

May I suggest to anyone who doesn't know what to charge, go to the childcare calculator. Shows your zip code, put in how many kids and years of experience. I think it helps with making fees for pets too. Just my 5 cents :).
Posted: November 30, 2014 at 6:51 PM
Photo of June P.
June P.
great article...have posted on om FB page as a FYI
Posted: September 29, 2014 at 11:26 AM
Photo of Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.
Thank you everybody for the information. I have just started dog sitting and walking service . The only thing is being on a certain web site you have to pay monthly fees for them to send your qutoes to the people. It is thumbtack. I actually sit for the neighbors dog across the street. He pays me $20.00 a day to keep the dog fed and i walk him.
Posted: August 24, 2014 at 4:01 PM
Photo of Dora N.
Dora N.
i live in katy tx in i charge $15 0 20 depend in the size love doing this is fun i have big back yard y no crate the alway be free this job is realy fun in good to know every dog is difernt in everythin i realy like
Posted: August 06, 2014 at 3:13 PM
Photo of Kesha M.
Kesha M.
If I'm boarding should I collect payment while dropping off the pet or when they picking up?
Posted: August 01, 2014 at 10:13 PM
Photo of Jennifer E.
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
Photo of Kathy D.
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
Photo of Chris R.
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
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