If you love animals, pet sitting and pet boarding can be an easy and fun way to make money at home. As around 50% of British families own a pet– but many of them go on holiday without their animals – there’s a lot of money to be made by offering doggy day care. Millennials, currently the largest pet-owning generation, reportedly spent £1.7 billion on their beloved animals in 2018. Among various expenses such as grooming and clothes, the money was also spent on dog walking and pet sitting.
Tap into this potential source of income – Simply sign up for free to a relevant site to advertise your services to thousands of dog/cat owners a month. You can easily get involved with this fun and simple yet well-paid business.
- What is pet sitting?
- What is pet boarding?
- How can I start pet sitting?
- What else is important?
- Will I need pet sitter’s insurance?
Pet sitters look after people’s animals visiting them in their house while the owners are away from home.
They tend to check on the pets a couple of times a day, typically for between 30 minutes to an hour at a time (the owner and pet sitter can decide on time and length of the visit depending on their pet’s needs).
Pet sitters ensure that the animals are fed, given water or any medication they require, and they also clean up litter or cages and play with the pets.
Some dog sitting and cat sitting services also offer extras such as walking and grooming.
In most cases, such as the services promoted via Cat in a Flat, pet sitters only visit during the day but owners may arrange for minders to be house sitters as well through sites like Trusted Housesitters. It’s the perfect solution if they don’t want their pets or home left unoccupied (see our article on house sitting here).
Pet sitters usually charge per pet, per hour but weekly rates or discounts for multiple pets can be put in place. Rates tend to range from around £6 per visit up to £25.
This means you could make between £12 and £50 a day for a couple of visits to one house.
If you did three or four homes, you could make up to £200 a day.
Pet boarding is a popular alternative to kennels. So popular, in fact, that dog owners in the UK spend over £1.5 billion each year on this type of accommodation.
Many owners don’t like putting their animals in kennels for a long time– it’s like leaving your children in a hotel or a school while you go on holiday. Very often pets are unhappy and feel unloved.
Not only that but doggy day care is expensive. Basic kennels can cost between £20 to £50 a day, sometimes adding up to more than the cost of your own holiday!
This is why many owners prefer to leave their animals with other families. It’s more friendly and usually cheaper for them.
Pets stay with a host family and they’re able to continue with their normal routines in the kind of home atmosphere they’re used to. Cats in particular can get very stressed when they’re sent to a kennel so many people now see pet boarding as the best option.
Stays can range from a few nights to a number of months depending on need. School holidays and the summer months are great times for pet boarders.
Even though the recommended maximum extra pets per boarder is just three at any one time, you could stand to make a lot of money during these busy periods.
Again, rates vary but, for example, Animal Aunts will pay you 75% of the total fee (£102 for an overnight stay for one dog). Some boarders increase their prices at busy times such as bank holidays.
So, if you board three extra animals in your home, you could make around £230 a day (minus the agency fee). Not bad money!
Although you can actually apply for an animal boarding licence through your local government, you don’t need a permit to start pet sitting. The easiest way to get involved is to sign up with a local agency. Search for terms such as ‘pet sitting’ or ‘pet boarding’ alongside the name of your local area. That’ll bring up agencies near you.
You could also get on the books of a national agency. Trusted Housesitters, for example, lets you advertise your services.
If you’d rather work for yourself as a pet sitter, then you’ll need to promote your services in your neighbourhood. You could try advertising in your local vet’s surgery, contact local schools to put an advert in their newsletter or pin your business cards or flyers on bulletin boards in hospitals (you could really help a patient unable to walk their dog).
You could also put a free advert on sites such as All Pet Services or Jobsgrapevine so that if anyone from your area is searching the website for pet sitters, your details will be available to them.
In the ever-growing world of mobile, the increasing need for dog sitters has pushed developers to create pet sitting and pet boarding apps. Tailster, recently bought by UK’s biggest pet retailer Pets at Home, connects over 26k self-employed animal carers with clients. Rover promises to be the world’s largest network of five‑star pet sitters and dog walkers, while Wag offers on-demand dog walking services. Your next pet sitting gig could be a touch of a button away. Many customers feel more comfortable dealing with someone who also has pets. If you do have an animal of your own (ideally a cat or dog rather than a snake), make this clear in your pet sitting advert.
If you already own animals, you could also think about joining Pet Sitter Swap. This involves swapping pet care duties with someone in your local area. Although it’s not paid, it’d be a good way of getting the word around about your services and level of care. Think of it as networking for pet sitters.
Potential clients may also request that you visit them so they can see how their pet reacts to you. This usually involves you spending some time alone with the animal and the owners then assess the situation. Make spare time for such requests as they’ll help increase your business opportunities.
After that, it’s really word of mouth. You’ll find that if you provide a good pet sitting service, then news will get about very quickly.
Some of the things you need to consider before you take pets in are:
Will you provide food and supplies or will the owner?
Most owners prefer to supply their own foods as their pets are used to a particular diet.
Check with clients to see what they want and make sure they know exactly what to bring. It might still be an idea to have extra stock in case of an emergency, or treats in the cupboard so that the pet feels happy and loved.
What type of pets will you look after?
Many pet boarders have rules regarding what type of dogs they allow into their homes.
Aggressive and unruly dogs are usually a no-go. Some boarders refuse male dogs that haven’t been neutered.
You should also be aware that most insurance covers only domestic animals so if you’re looking after more exotic types, you may need extra insurance (see below for details on insurance).
Draw up a contract with customers.
Unless you’re helping friends, drawing a contract will protect you both.
This can include who’s responsible for vet bills and state any emergency contact details.
You should seek legal advice if you want to set out a formal contract, or have a look at contracts on the web and create your own.
You may wonder whether you have to pay tax if you make some extra money occasionally pet sitting or feeding someone’s dog/cat for a week. In general, it depends on whether you have another source of income. Under the current personal tax allowance you can make £12,500 before you have to pay 20% tax on your earnings. If you’re starting out your self-employment venture, trading allowance will save you from paying tax on your first £1k of income. Double check if you’re not sure about your tax situation.
Laws about pet sitting
There are no laws which directly relate to pet sitting or pet boarding but Animal Aunts recommends registering with the local council if you run a pet sitting business.
You should also make yourself familiar with the laws about looking after animals.
If your pet-sitting services include extras such as dog walking, you’ll need to be aware of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and the Animals Act 1971 (if you live in an area near livestock).
Insurance isn’t a legal necessity if you’re going to be looking after pets in your own home.
However, you need to think carefully about what the consequences could be if something went wrong while they’re in your care.
Check out our pet insurance article which has all the latest special offers from insurers. But, remember there are some things you should keep in mind when making your insurance choice.
Public Liability insurance – You could be sued for negligence if an animal in your care gets out of control and causes harm to a member of the public. Public liability is essential if you plan to include dog walking as part of your services. Find the right public liability insurance for you here.
Key replacement – If you lose a client’s keys and you don’t have insurance, you could be liable to pay for the cost of replacing all the locks.
Housesitting– If you’re being asked to house sit as well as pet sit, most pet-sitter’s insurance won’t cover this, unless your house-sitting duties are significantly less than your pet-sitting ones.
Discounts – If you’re considering becoming a member of a national organisation, then it might be a good idea to sign up with Petsitters Alliance. They have a deal which includes membership plus third party liability, house-sitting, pet-accident and lost-keys insurance for £95 per year.
If you found this article useful then we think these’ll be right up your street:
- Make £60 an hour by dog walking
- Make money house sitting
- Money-making ideas for the over 60s
- Making extra money – do I have to pay more tax?
- Top 20 tips for running your own business
Have you had any experience pet sitting? Maybe it’s your ideal job but you still have questions. Let us know in the comments section below – we love to hear from you!