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Pet sitting cost: How much should I pay a pet sitter?

Hiring a pet sitter to care for dog, cat or goldfish but not sure what to pay? Experts and pet parents offer insight on how to figure out fair pet sitting prices.

Here's how much to pay a pet sitter

Whether you’re leaving your furry family member for the night or are going on a bonafide vacation without them, having a quality pet sitter is a no-brainer. However, figuring out what to pay for overnight pet sitting is another story.

“When you’re looking for someone to care for your pets, there are so many things to consider,” says Collin Funkhouser, a professional pet sitter and host of the podcast, Pet Sitter Confessional. “One caveat, though, is even when you figure out all of the factors involved, you’ll always be able to find exceptions, which is why it’s important to talk with, and get to know, your pet sitter before you hire them.”

Need care for your favorite furry friend(s), but aren’t sure what to pay? Experts and pet parents offer insight on pet sitting prices.

How much does pet sitting cost?

In the top 20 cities for pet sitting, average rates range from $11.50 an hour to $16.25 an hour, according to recent Care.com data. However, Funkhouser notes that, taking a variety of factors into account, such as number of pets and care required (more on this shortly), rates can go as high as “$80 for a 30-minute walk or drop-in care” in some places. 

“These prices are unfamiliar to many people who typically have a friend or family member take care of their pets,” Funkhouser explains. “But keep in mind, you’re paying for a professional level of care, someone you can trust with your pet and home. When it comes to pet sitting cost, there really isn’t an ‘industry standard,’ so it’s a good idea to figure out the level of care you need and get to know several sitters in your area. This way, you can find the pet sitter that works best for you.”

Looking for a jumping off point? Check out the average rates using this pet sitting rates calculator.

Current pet sitting rates for top cities*

City, StateHourly Pet Sitter Rate
Seattle, Washington$16.25/hr
Los Angeles, California$15.75/hr
Phoenix, Arizona$15.00/hr
Brooklyn, New York$14.75/hr
Portland, Oregon$14.50/hr
Chicago, Illinois$14.00/hr
Denver, Colorado$14.00/hr
Minneapolis, Minnesota$13.50/hr
Atlanta, Georgia$13.00/hr
San Antonio, Texas$12.75/hr
Charlotte, North Carolina$12.50/hr
Las Vegas, Nevada$12.25/hr
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$12.00/hr
Tampa, Florida$11.50/hr

Should pet sitters be paid hourly or a flat rate?

According to Funkhouser, the vast majority of pet sitters and dog walkers charge a flat rate. “The only time an hourly rate may come into play is if you have multiple pets and need extensive care for each — think hobby farms, horses, multiple cages for snakes, aquariums or five dogs needing medications and special food,” he says. “If your needs don’t fit with the pet sitter’s current service offering, ask if they could accommodate or provide a quote.” 

What’s the going rate for house sitting with a pet?

If you’re heading out of town for a few days or more, you may be looking for someone to care for your pet, as well as your house. If this is the case (and especially if you’re asking the sitter to stay over), the rate should be higher than if they were just dropping in for walks or feedings. 

“We’ve always had our babysitter stay at our home with our dog when we’ve gone out of town,” says Cockapoo owner Mary Ragazzo Reilly of Cranford, New Jersey. “Aside from getting our mail, the care was solely focused on walking and feeding the dog. We negotiated a daily rate beforehand, taking kennel costs and her normal babysitting rate into account. We both agreed on $30 a day.”

Jen McConnell, a Doberman owner in Aberdeen, New Jersey, paid her pet sitter a higher rate, as both her home and dog required more care. “Our pet sitter didn’t stay over, but she did come by more than once a day to feed and walk the dog, as well as take care of packages, plants, our garbage and recycling, as well as our pool,” she says. “We paid her $50 a day.” 

What should I factor into my pet sitter’s rate?

When it comes to determining pet sitting cost, there are a number of things to consider. Here are some of the most common factors that can affect pet sitting rates:

  1. Your location and the average rates in your area.
  2. Time spent caring for pet(s).
  3. Number of animals.
  4. Type and size of animal(s).
  5. Duties and tasks.
  6. Pet sitter’s experience.

1. Your location and the average rates in your area

“In general, if you live in an area with a higher cost of living, expect to pay more for your dog walker or pet sitter than in an area with a lower cost of living,” Funkhouser explains. “It sounds pretty straightforward, but can get easily overlooked, especially if you’ve recently moved or had a friend [who lives in another city] tell you how much they’re paying.” 

2. Time spent caring for pet(s)

According to Dr. Stacy Choczynski Johnson, veterinarian and expert for Pumpkin Pet Insurance, pet sitting cost should also correlate to the care required, which generally is directly linked to the amount of time a sitter will spend with your pet. 

“Rates should be determined based on care requirements, including the number of walks or play sessions, the need for yard or litter box waste cleaning, medication administration, enrichment activities, training, transportation and if the pet sitter is required to lodge at the home,” Choczynski Johnson says. “For instance, short-term fish sitting gigs may require less care and thus a lower rate. However, care of a saltwater tank or long-term aquarium maintenance may require the skills of an aquarist. There are times when a pet sitter is simply feeding the fish, and there are circumstances where there may be water quality testing and 50% water changes, so rate should be determined on a case-by-case basis.”

“Rates should be determined based on care requirements, including the number of walks or play sessions, the need for yard or litter box waste cleaning, medication administration, enrichment activities, training, transportation and if the pet sitter is required to lodge at the home.”

— DR. STACY CHOCZYNSKI JOHNSON, VETERINARIAN

In addition to the amount of time a sitter will spend with your pet daily, another thing to consider is how long a sitter will be watching your pet. 

“Pet owners sometimes ask whether the duration of their care will impact their price, and the answer is: It varies,” says Funkhouser. “Some sitters give a small discount for longer care, but most will charge the same rate for the entire duration. You can always ask if they offer package pricing for walks, or have a weekly walk rate versus a one-off walk, but your pet sitter or dog walker still needs to run their business and pay their bills, which means discounts may not be an option. They’re still providing the same care on day 14 as they did on day one.”

3. Number of animals

Think the rate should change if you need care for more than one pet? It depends. 

“When pets have the same nutritional and exercise needs, it is typically easier to care for more than one animal at a time. When pets get along — the more the merrier!” Choczynski Johnson says. “For example, if a trio of dogs eat the same food, are behaviorally compatible and walk on a leash well in tandem, it should be a good time. However, if each pet is on a specialized prescription diet, one is fear-aggressive or not neutered, and they can’t be walked at the same time, a pet sitter will have extra work on their hands.”

Additionally, if you have a variety of animals in your home that require care, the pet sitting cost will likely go up. “Three dogs, two cats and 10 chickens will cost more than one dog and a goldfish,” Funkhouser says. 

“Three dogs, two cats and 10 chickens will cost more than one dog and a goldfish.”

— COLLIN FUNKHOUSER, HOST OF PET SITTING CONFessionaL

4. Type and size of animal(s)

“Pet sitters typically charge a higher rate for dogs than cats because dogs are usually provided walks and playtime like fetch, which cats don’t necessarily need,” explains Dr. Heather Venkat, a companion animal veterinarian at VIP Puppies in Phoenix. “Pet sitters shouldn’t necessarily need to charge a higher rate for exotic animals, like fish or reptiles, as the amount of time to care for them should not be any more than a dog or cat.”

“Pet sitters typically charge a higher rate for dogs than cats.”

— DR. HEATHER VENKAT, COMPANION ANIMAL VETERINARIAN

Dr. Theresa Fossum, a board-certified veterinary surgeon and owner of Dr. Fossum’s Pet Care, adds that, when it comes to dogs, breed may affect pet sitting rates. “Rates for dogs vary dramatically based on the demographics of your area and your pet’s size, with larger dogs typically being more expensive than smaller dogs,” she says.

“Rates for dogs vary dramatically based on the demographics of your area and your pet’s size, with larger dogs typically being more expensive than smaller dogs.”

— DR. THERESA FOSSUM, VETERINARY SURGEON

5. Duties and tasks

Funkhouser notes that, while many sitters will “charge a single rate, regardless of the kind of pet or its needs,” some charge for the following additional services:

  • Administering medication. 
  • Special food preparation.

“Additionally, if you have a pet on palliative care, expect to pay more than a pet in their prime with no medications or special needs,” he says. 

6. Pet sitter’s experience

While it may be tempting to cut costs by going with the pet caregiver who offers the best price — don’t. “Unless you personally know and trust the pet sitter, don’t go with the cheapest option,” Fossum says. “And if you don’t know the sitter, be sure to meet them in advance to ensure that you, and your pet, are comfortable with them. There’s usually a reason some sitters are more expensive than others.”

“The level of experience the pet sitter or dog walker brings is invaluable,” Funkhouser says. “Someone who has been in business for 10 years, is insured, bonded, first-aid and CPR trained and continues to seek out additional educational opportunities will be more costly, but you’re paying for their experience and knowledge.”