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Pet sitting holiday rates: How much you can expect to pay

Will the holiday season cause a hike in pet sitting rates? Professionals weigh in on what to expect when booking a pet sitter over the holidays.

Pet sitting holiday rates: How much you can expect to pay

Whether you are taking a winter vacation or visiting family and friends during the holiday season, short- or long-distance travel often means hiring a pet sitter to care for your furry friend. And given the high demand this time of year, experts tell Care it may be necessary to book your pet sitter up to three months in advance. 

“Professional pet sitters can give pet owners peace of mind that their pets are receiving professional, compassionate care while they are away for the holidays,” says Beth Stultz-Hairston, President of Pet Sitters International. “We recommend pet owners reach out to local professional pet sitters as soon as possible to book their holiday pet care, as pet sitters can get booked up for the holidays weeks and even months in advance.”   

Amy Stauffer, owner of Wagging Tails Pet Care, echoes that sentiment, sharing, “I already have four clients booked for Christmas and New Years. Unfortunately, if they don’t book early, I only allow a certain number of slots for the holidays.” With over 20 years of experience in the pet care business, Stauffer knows her time is valuable, especially at the holidays.    

Need help determining how much to pay a pet sitter over the holidays? Here, pet parents and experts offer their advice. 

What are the pet sitting holiday rates should I expect to pay? 

Similar to any other industry where employees are paid overtime for working on or around Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years, pet sitters will also charge more for their time. 

Stultz-Hairston says that in a survey of nearly 500 Pet Sitters International member businesses last year, 58% charge a surcharge for holiday pet sitting visits. For nearly half of those pet sitters who do charge a surcharge, the surcharge was in the range of $5 to $10 per visit, she explains. 

That said, some pet sitters opt for a flat rate for holiday pet sitting. “If it’s Christmas Day, I will charge another $20 flat rate, because I’m not with my family, and of course, that’s where I want to be,” says Stauffer. “If it’s not the actual holiday, I charge $10 extra fee per day. My clients don’t have a problem with it.”      

“Prior to booking services, pet parents should have an initial consultation with a professional pet sitter, during which time the pet sitter should go over their policies.” 

— Beth Stultz-Hariston, President of Pet Sitters International

How to determine a pet sitter’s holiday rate? 

There are a number of variables that go into deciding how much to pay a pet sitter at the holidays. Here are some of the most common factors.  

1. Number of animals  

Some pet providers charge an extra fee for additional pets. Krista Herrmann of Clover, South Carolina recalls when having just one cat would only cost $50 for a whole week of pet sitting. “I only had our pet sitter come by once every other day to clean the cat box and give fresh food and water,” she says. Now that she owns a Shih Tzu and two additional cats, Herrmann is paying $70 per day for pet sitting. 

In short, additional pets means more time. “If the pet sitter determined that the number of pets in the home would take more time than their 30-minute visit, they may charge for a 45-minute [visit],” adds Stultz-Hairston. 

2. Time spent caring for pet(s) 

The type of pet you’re hiring care for will determine how frequently your pet sitter will visit. For example, a dog sitter may be expected to visit the pet’s home up to four times each day whereas a cat sitter can get by with check-ins every other day. 

Some pet sitters charge based on the length of time they spend with your fur baby. That’s the case for Stauffer who says, “For 15 minutes, it’s $10 or for 30 minutes, it’s $20. That includes walking, feeding, giving medication, playing with the pet and I’ll even water plants.”

Others will offer a set rate for a certain number of days. To care for two cats and walk and play with her Shih Tzu twice a day for five days, Herrmann’s pet sitter charged $350.

Along with daily walks and feedings, there may be extra responsibilities around the home for the pet sitter that could be factored into the cost. “My husband is allergic to cats, so I vacuum everyday,” notes Herrmann. She was pleased that her pet sitter was able to offer frequent vacuuming in addition to watching her pets.   

Administering medications, special dietary needs or a trip to the vet may also affect the pet sitting rate. Stauffer explains, “A lot of pet sitters will charge extra for giving medication. My client’s dog takes insulin twice a day. I do not charge extra, but some pet sitters do.”    

3. Pet sitter’s experience level  

It’s hard to put a price on safety and knowledge. Stauffer cautions pet parents to hire a professional pet sitter who maintains insurance and bonding, a business license or permit and is well-educated about the types of animals they care for. Although the well-meaning pre-teen who loves animals may want to pet sit your furry friend, they may not be prepared to handle particular situations like facing aggression from another dog, points out Stauffer.  

When she’s traveling, Herrmann’s main concern for her pets is potential anxiety and loneliness, and an experienced pet sitter knows how to make a pet feel calm and comfortable. 

4. Holiday tip and gift  

The holidays are a time for giving. Many pet owners like to show their appreciation to their pet sitters with a gift. Herrmann chose to tip her pet sitter an extra $50 for a job well done. 

And the giving goes both ways. Stauffer says she usually gets a holiday gift — usually an extra $10 to $100 but sometimes a mug or bottle of wine — from her clients.

5. Location and rates in your area  

According to recent Care data, average holiday pet-sitting rates in 2023 range from $15.21 an hour to $19.54 an hour among the top 20 U.S. cities. To get an idea of what a fair pet sitting rate may be near you, use the Care pet sitting rates calculator, then add $5 an hour to $10 an hour for the holiday fee.

Pet sitting holiday rates: The bottom line

Since there can be a large variation in holiday pet sitting cost, it is best to discuss your pet care needs and expectations in as much detail as possible with your potential pet sitter so that no hidden costs arise. 

“Pet owners should ask their pet sitting businesses about their specific holiday rates,” notes Stultz-Hariston. “Prior to booking services, pet parents should have an initial consultation or ‘meet and greet’ with a professional pet sitter, during which time the pet sitter should go over their policies, including payment and cancellation policies.”