Pet care cost guide

You've been dreaming of a vacation for so long. Now, you're finally free to enjoy a week on a sunny beach with a gentle ocean breeze in your hair. There is one problem, though. You need someone to take care of your beloved Rocky while you're away. None of your friends will agree to take him – they're too busy at the moment. Leaving the dog in your vet's care for seven days may be too stressful for him or even dangerous if you consider there could be sick animals around. Then, you decide to hire a pet care professional.

Here you will learn about:

Pet care professionals perform a range of services designed to help pet owners look after their animal friends. Those include pet sitting and walking, overnight care, medication administration, feeding, behavior training, and even grooming. Pet care specialists may charge their clients by the day or by the hour, as well as take a fixed payment for smaller tasks. The total cost is determined by several factors: type, size, and weight of the animal, how much time the pro has to work, how many animals will have to be looked after, how experienced the professional is, home location, plus any additional services such as purchasing food for the pet, taking it to a vet, and others. On average, be prepared to pay from $15 - $19 per hour. The minimum amount is $12, the maximum fee is $25.

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Price-related questions

How much does a daily dog walker charge?

For those who work nine-to-five, having someone walk their dog in the afternoon is often the only option. Leaving a pet without enough daily exercise may negatively reflect on its behavior and health. How much a dog walker will charge depends on several factors:

  • Home location: rural area/suburb – lower fee, major city – higher fee
  • Dog size: removing the biological waste after a dog that weighs 8 pounds is simpler than after “the Hound of the Baskervilles.”
  • Walking site: the farther it is, the higher is the fee.
  • Length of walking
  • Number of animals

Taking those considerations into account, the standard rate for a large city like San Francisco ranges between $15 and $35 for a half-an-hour walk.

I need someone to sit with my dog during the daytime. How much can I expect to pay?

There are many centers that provide boarding for pets. All you need to do is take yours there in the morning, say at 9 a.m., when driving to work and collect it on your way home, say at 7 p.m. Several factors shape the final price:

  • You have more than one pet to leave in a pet care center: expect to pay $6 for an additional animal.
  • Your dog is undergoing a course of medical treatment: expect to pay from $3 to $9 for each administered pill.
  • Your dog is troublesome: you may pay more, too. The exact amount depends on the particular center.

On average, the cost of the pet sitting service can be in the range $20-$40 a day.

How much does the overnight pet sitting service cost?

If you need a pet care professional to come to your place to look after your pet during the night, the price range can be very wide: from $45 to $130 for 10-15 hours. Again, that depends on the number of pets, any special services like medication administration, feeding, and others. The caregiver may also take your dog out for a walk in the evening and in the morning if you haven't returned yet.

Does the pet caregiver's experience affect the price?

It does. For instance, professionals who have been in the business for up to 14-15 years may charge $25 per hour. Those who have worked from 5 to 10 years will most likely take $15 for an hour of work. Novice pet care pros (level zero – 4 years) are willing to work for much less - $12 and below. Note, however, that the minimum amount you can pay depends on the corresponding laws in your state. So, if someone asks you for just $5, it may cost you much more down the line.

I need someone to look after an exotic lizard? Does it cost more than looking after an ordinary pet?

It depends on how much care is required and how dangerous the pet can be to the caregiver. In general, be prepared to spend around $25 an hour. Other “non-standard” animals:

  • Birds and reptiles – up to $18 per hour
  • Horses – up to $17 per hour
  • Farm animals – up to $20 per hour

What other services can I expect from the pet care professionals?

  • Training: up to $15
  • Grooming: up to $14
  • Behavior correction: $18
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Information to check


When the professional is properly insured and bonded, it's a clear sign they're serious about their business. Should anything happen while they're looking after your pet, you are not liable.

In-home consultation

Many pet care providers come to a client's home before they actually begin working. This visit helps professionals observe the behavior of the animal(s) and give a more precise estimate of the total cost. Inquire if this visit is really free.


Whenever you invite a stranger to your home, it may pose a risk to your property. If it's a corporate pet caregiver, ask the company how they conduct the security screening of their employees. In most cases, the criminal record is checked. If it's an individual pet care provider, it's a good idea to pay a visit to the local police department to learn if this person has ever violated the law.


Many professionals are certified dog trainers. This fact makes them more reputable and hire-worthy.

Other frequently asked questions

Why should I pay for a pet care service if I can ask my friend to look after my cat while I'm away?

Pet care professionals have undergone special training and can give your pet first aid in case of emergency. They're also familiar with different behavioral patterns that animals display and can handle them correctly.

Is there a travel fee?

Most frequently. Normally, you'll be charged after the first 10 – 14 miles the professional has traveled. This fee can be on the per mile basis or be a fixed amount.

Do pet care providers give discounts?

Some companies/professionals take less from clients who use their services more regularly. For instance, if you order walking your dog twice a day instead of once during the week, you may reduce the overall price up to 15%.

Bottom line

Pet care professionals charge their clients based on the type and size of the pet, the kind and length of the service, home location, number of pets, and other factors. The average cost falls in the range $15 - $19 per hour.

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