View Full Version : Expections of a Pet Sitter?

05-06-2010, 06:46 PM
I've been thinking for awhile about doing some pet sitting during the summer holidays. I've always wanted to do it but, I've always been too busy with my own zoo. Now my numbers are down and I'm hoping to make some money this summer and get some more experience with animals.

I've been thinking and I would only open up services to small animals. I thought about dogs and cats but I cannot bring them to my own home and I doubt many people would trust a 17 year old in their house. So small animals such as hamsters, mice, gerbils, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, chinchillas, etc.

I've been trying to work this out though so I have some questions for you guys, if you don't mind answering:

1. How much would you expect to pay? I was thinking $5 a day but maybe that's too much. (I know there's a country difference but answer anyways, please!)

2. Would you expect a sitter to supply shavings/bedding?

3. Do you think it's better that I offer that the animal is kept at my house or do pet sitters usually go to peoples houses?

4. Do think most people would be offended if I asked that I see the animal prior to bringing it to my house (if they go to my house) to ensure that they are healthy? I know that you can't tell health on looks alone but it's some sort of precaution.

5. Is there anything in particular that you would expect from a pet sitter besides feeding, cleaning and handling? What would you look for in a pet sitter?

Thank you so much if you took the time to read this and thanks in advance to any answers.

05-06-2010, 07:10 PM
I have a pet sitting business "Fur-Nanny 911" and I always go to the client's house. I encourage it, as it is less stress on the animal, being in their own environment and all. I've printed out business cards and hand them out to anyone and everyone. I've gotten a lot of referrals. It starts off slow, but I figured with holidays and vacations coming up, business will pick up.

I physically go over to the client's house to meet and interact with the pet or pets. I bring a notebook and take lots of notes. Feeding instructions, pets idiosyncracies, quirks, likes to sleep on the bed, etc. Gives me a chance see the outlay of the property, where all the pet's stuff is, get to know everything about the pets. No charge. I then charge $50/day if I stay over. If it's individual visits, I ask them how many days (depending on whether they have only cats, or cats and dogs)they want me to come by and take care of the pets. They can choose the amount of visits. I usually only charge $35/day for individual visits. When you said $5/day you are totally underestimating yourself. Caring for someone else's pets is very demanding and stressful. The last time I sat for my clients, I wound up having to have one of their oldest dogs euthanized. Scruffy was a rescue from down South. They weren't sure how old she was when the got her. She was bleeding all over the place. It was a very difficult decision but one I didn't take lightly and they were very appreciative that I did. They said I went above and beyond the call. The clients I'm talking about have 4 goldens (big rescue fans). They're great people (my best ones yet) and trust me completely with their beautiful home and animals. Having a hot tub and a swimming pool isn't too shabby either. I've been at their beck and call and there have been times when they've called me very last minute.

If you sit for a dog, you're going to have to either make 3 trips a day to walk, or let the dog out and feed it. Or you stay there the whole time. That's when the price goes up.

A pet sitter never pays for anything for the animal. It should be provided by the pet owner.

Another thing you want to do is make your references and experience available. Ask them questions like, "If something were to happen to the pet, would they want you to call them on their vacation?" Or, if something should happen, would you give the vet authorization to treat and would they allow you to call in their credit card for payment. Anything could happen. Get names and numbers you can call, should they be unavailable.

I learned alot from my friend who pet sits. I never thought I'd be doing this but I love it cuz I love animals.

Good luck!!

05-06-2010, 07:32 PM
I use pet sitter for my cats back when I was working, as I traveled a lot. I provided the cat litter, NOT her, so I expect that would be the same for small mammals.

She came to my house; it cost more for me to board them at her house! And she was set up for it, she had the kennels. I wanted my cats to be ree roain at home same as when I was there. Not sure how this would translate for small mammals.

She insisted on coming over and meeting the pets, gathering all the needed info before she would agree to sit for someone. Proof of vaccines, spay / neuter. Who is the vet in case something happens? Signed agreement that I would pay the vet, not her. What food did I use and where did I keep it? Where did I dispose of used litter? (See lots of this will apply if you go to their house).

Cats are very particular about their litter. Are small mammals? I don't know, but think about that too.

Some people will not use tap water, has to be spring water.

For small mammals, I think you would want to know if they are allowed out, and where. Even if they are at your home, some folks only allow them out in a bathtub (I have a friend like this; but her cage is enormous!)

Just some ideas to ponder.

05-06-2010, 07:42 PM
Good advice Sandi.

I would also insist that you get paid up front. There was one couple, I was very good friends with(I used to cat sit for them for free till I became "Fur-Nanny 911" who I had to chase around to get paid. It took me 3 weeks.

My great clients with the 4 dogs put the money in a clip on the fridge. No hassles, no nothing.

I don't do contracts. Although eventually with any new clients I might write up an "agreement". I'm in the middle of drafting up a "Client Feedback" sheet. Asking clients how they like my services, if there is anything I can do differently, anything they don't like. Just to get a feel as to how they like what I do.

I find that animals that are left to the care of a pet sitter are happier and calmer in their own environment, plus you avoid them getting sick if boarded out (other pets have fleas, URIs, etc that are contagious).

05-06-2010, 08:35 PM
Thank you for the insight!

When I said $5/day I was comparing to other pet sitters near by. The dog and cat sitters seem to charge much more but anybody doing small animals seem to go down to about $10/day. I haven't seen any advertisements in my city though. I'll try asking more local residents and consider making the fee depend on the animal as you do for cats and dogs. Rabbits for example are more work then say hamsters. But I'll see.

I figured they should supply it but I was 100% sure. Thanks!

Parasites is what I was mostly worried about, that and the sendai virus which has recently been hitting Ontario. :/ Going to their house does make much more sense.

And again, thank you so much!

I've pet sit for friends and neighbours (cats, dogs, hamsters and fish) and it was really great. It would be scary to have to deal with a dying animal, something I'll have to consider.

And I was thinking of making a questionnaire, even if I only kept it as a reminder for myself about what to ask. I'll have to work that out...

The big thing about small animals is that very few people research about them beyond picking up an outdated book, a pamphlet from a pet store or talking to a pet store employee. Some of the questions in regards to the vet would get me funny looks, "Hamsters can go to the vet?, Why? They're only $8" :/ But I'll of course ask anyways.

Pinot's Mom
05-06-2010, 08:50 PM
I have one cat and use a pet sitter. Her website, should you like to see it for comparison (although this is in the US in an affluent area) is: http://howardcountypetsitting.com - it gives her rates. The small pet rate is $10 per visit for one pet. All supplies are provided at the home of the pet. The kitty rate is $15 per visit for one kitty. It's a good site for information.

I leave a check with a note each time we use the service. They have our key.

Good luck!!

05-06-2010, 09:41 PM
When we went to Hawaii two summers ago I paid my good friends daughter who was 24 to stay at our home. I can't remember exactly what I paid her I think I gave her around 250 for the week and she is a vegetarian so I left her lots of the things I know she like and she had the run of the fridge.

05-07-2010, 06:40 AM
Yeah, small animals are totally different. Because you CAN bring them to your home to sit for them.

The dogs I sit for are BIG and can be demanding and they live in an affluent part of CT (West Hartford) One of the dogs, Cooper, will grab my shoe or a piece of my clothing to get my attention. I learned real fast that you need to put things up high or they will end up in the back yard. A pink pair of summer shorts comes to mind and makes me laugh. We call him the dog from hell. They're all really great dogs, though.

Cowgirl in the Sand
06-15-2010, 07:00 PM
I am a licensed, insured professional pet sitter I only go to clients homes, as less stress on the pet. Client pays for everything for the pet except for doggie bags. I do overnight house sitting as well. In addition to the pet getting cared for, mail, newspapers, trash service, plants etc. are cared for. Even have one client who has me start his cars and run them so the batteries will not die.
I charge the same for one pet as I do for several, as long as the work can be done in half an hour. Cats are groomed and played with, if they are so inclined..some are too lazy to lift a paw. LOL. Dogs are walked or played with depending on client wishes. No extra fee for giving oral RX or injections. (I have had several insulin dependent pets, mostly cats but did have one dog).

Caged animals depends on owner's request if they are taken out & handled. . I am not a bird person, so those I will not take out. I have know some very aggressive ones and never enjoyed caring for them if I had to reach inside the cage using a shield. Prefer cages with parrots where bowls can be removed without reaching inside the cage. If you don't feel comfortable with a certain pet, then don't take them on. You want to enjoy your work. If an owner says they have to wear gloves...then you know it will be a challenge! (don't understand why someone wants a pet that is not nice...always felt sorry for the bird, as it never got out cause it was not handled and tame).

I have a release form for client signs, an emergency contact sheet that they leave out in case of household emergency, such as tree coming down on house, broken pipe, alarm company, pool, etc. Pet info is on my sitter's worksheet.

If you board animals in your home, you must be sure none are contagious, the temperature in the home is suitable for that particular species, no drafts, no loud noises that might stress out the pets. Do you have transportation to take them to a veterinarian if necessary?

I have found people who price shop for the cheapest rate are often the most demanding, often adding more duties or longer walks after I have made a quote & have agreed to care for their pet. So be specific in what is included and don't let them walk all over you...back out politely, saying you are not comfortable or have the extra time they added for new duties that were not discussed before the quote. If they said they have gone through other pet sitters, beware!

I hope you don't mind a suggestion, but maybe working part time at a veterinary clinic, boarding kennel, pet shop, etc. might be feasible. You could learn new skills and knowledge about caring for different species. I got my start working in a small animal hosp. which then I went to school, & became a registered Animal Health Tech. (now known as veterinary technicians). 20+ years working in the field including 10 years at a vet. emer. clinic gave me an excellent knowledge of medical conditions and what to do in an emergency.

It didn't sound like you were doing it for the money, so another possibility would be to take in some rescue animals, not sure what rescue groups there are in your area, but often they need more people to home and socialize before the pets are ready for adoption into a forever home.

My rates are at my website.

06-16-2010, 06:47 AM
Great advice Cowgirlinthesand!!! Gives me some insight.