Pet Sitting Business Overview
There are about 140 million cats and dogs living in US households.
People tend to care about their pets as much as they do their children; pets are part of the family for many people.
People need to work full-time, and they may need to travel. They don’t want to leave their treasured friend alone.
According to Molly Locklin of MyPetBusiness.com, “Opening up a pet sitting business is a fantastic way to turn your love for animals into a little extra cash.
This type of business becomes more popular each year, and many people are even turning it into a full-time career.”
This business is scalable: you can start with a handful of pets and grow as much as you want over time. You can also double as a dog walker and or offer other services that also include house watching while someone is on vacation.
You can add-on services like cleaning up accidents, changing cat litter boxes, administering pet medications, bringing in newspapers and mail, watering plants, and taking out the trash, etc.
With dual-income households becoming more and more the “norm,” there is an increasing need for watching over pets. If you are looking for a work-from-home business with little investment needed, pet care opportunities are available in many forms:
- Daytime in-home visits while owners are at work
- Daily walks of pets for shut-ins (dog walker)
- In-home pet care while owners are away on vacation or visiting
- Pet “day-care” at your home
- Patients with animals
- Be knowledgeable about the care of animals, particularly cats and dogs
- Be able to play with and get along with many different types of animals
- Have basic knowledge about the care of other types of common pets: turtles, fish, birds, hamsters, etc
- List of Common Business Skills
Employee & Job Consideration During The Start-Up Phase Or In The Future:
Approximate Daily Hours Needed:
Hours vary greatly according to the number of animals you have in your care.
Equipment, Supplies, & Services During Start-up OR In The Future:
- Water and food dishes
- Cleaning supplies and tools
- Paper towels
- Litter boxes and extra litter
- Caged areas
- Well heated and ventilated area for holding pets
- Toys such as cat trees and exercise equipment for dogs
- Van for transportation of pets (pick up/drop off service)
- Administer medication if necessary
- List of Essential office Equipment
Monthly Expenses To Consider:
You don’t need a special license, which means that there is no formal coursework you have to take in order to become a pet sitter. You will need a business license, however. Check with your city or state for the requirements. Depending on where you live, there may also be zoning issues to take into consideration.
Approximate Minimum Startup Cost:
Bare essential – The investment cost to start is low. You can get started for as little as $200, which will cover the costs of printing business cards, flyers, and advertisements. You also need transportation and insurance. Insurance can be as low as $100 a year when you are starting out. As you grow, the premiums go up, but it is essential to have insurance to protect your business in case something happens to the pets in your care.
Tips & Considerations:
- Becoming associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services is recommended by the Humane Society of the United States.
- Always check with a licensed veterinarian if you have any questions about the care of a pet including administration of medications.
- Becoming Pet CPR certified can be a valuable asset to your business. For more information about Pet CPR courses, contact your local American Red Cross chapter.
- Your organic marketing approach, paired with an online presence, will sure to make your business grow. Clients expect you to be online so they can shop for your services and learn more about you. With approximately 90% of Americans using the Internet, a website for your pet business is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.
- There are several professional associations such as PetSitUSA, Pet Sitters International, The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, and The International Association of Canine Professionals that can get you started on the right track, and offer tips and advice about important insurance, bonding requirements, training, and networking opportunities.
- This type of work is definitely not for people who don’t have patience and a love for animals. You’ll have to clean up pet messes, go outside in cold weather for walks, or soothe a scared pet who misses his owner. If you do love pets, this can be a good way to start your own business relatively inexpensively.
- A background in pet care work such as veterinary, pet shelter, dog training, or boarding care is of course very useful and usually recommended.
- A well-trained and experienced pet sitter or dog walker must be able to interact effectively with all types of dogs and cats large and be comfortable with other pets such as birds, rabbits, ferrets, and snakes.
- No matter where you are working, you are going to need insurance. This protects you and your business in case something happens to a pet while in your care. Having insurance is not mandatory, but it will help give you and your clients peace of mind.
Pros and Cons:
- You get to work with pets
- You have the freedom to arrange your schedule
- Most clients are very grateful for your services
- You can go outside for walks
- Long hours
- You often have to work on holidays, when clients are traveling
- You have to clean up pet messes
- Pets can create chaos in any clean room; you’ll need to pick up after them
This has been named as one of the fastest-growing home-based businesses according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Entrepreneur.com’s report, “Become a Pet-Sitter or Dog Walker” explains that the outlook for pet sitters and dog walkers has never been better.
Both pet sitting and dog walking are still in their infancy as recognized professions. With only about 3% of households nationally using a pet sitter or dog walker, there is plenty of room for new establishments to emerge and grow.
There are no statistics on the number of dog walkers, but some estimates put the number of bonded and insured pet-sitter businesses nationwide at 10,000.
Pet sitting and dog walking can be very profitable and rewarding, especially in large metropolitan areas where pet walking, in particular, has become more popular.
The national average is about $16 per visit, and it usually customary to charge an additional $1 to $3 for each additional animal in the household. Do the math: six visits per day over a seven-day workweek is $672 per week or $34,944 per year.
Add a few more pets per household, and you are making well over $35,000 while working for yourself, and with some of the cutest clients in town.