Pros and Cons of Starting a Pet-Sitting Business

man walking five mid-sized dogs on a cobblestone street

Helen Ashford/Getty Images

Are you passionate about your pets? A love of animals, along with trustworthiness and consistent availability, can be a sign that you could be successful in starting a pet-sitting business. Pet sitters are typically available during normal business hours, weekends, and holidays to take care of animals by taking them for walks, feeding them, cleaning their cages, and more.

Don't assume that your love of animals will automatically make you a successful pet-sitter, though. As with any business endeavor, you should take time to weigh the pros and cons before you jump in.

Pros of a Pet-Sitting Business

Before opening a pet-sitting business, consider some of the benefits:

  • Relatively low start-up costs: You'll need some basic pet supplies, but in most cases, pet owners will have their own supplies, such as leashes, that they and their pets prefer.
  • No storefront is needed: Your base of operations likely will be your home and the vehicle you use to travel to your clients, and most of your work will be done at your clients' homes or in the public areas where you take their pets. You can deduct expenses for your home office when you file your taxes.
  • You can turn your love of animals into a business: If dogs, cats, and other household pets are a passion for you, this is a great way to earn money doing what you love while sharing your expertise with your clients.
  • You can work as much or as little as you want: This can be a side job to earn extra income, but if you build up a large enough client base, this could become a full-time job. The average price for a single pet visit is about $19.35, according to Pet Sitters International.
  • There is a wide range of potential clients and many ways to reach them: Selling services to neighbors might be the easiest way to get started, but you might also be able to build a client base by establishing a relationship with area pet stores and veterinarians.
  • Work out while you work: The job is a great way to inject plenty of exercise into your daily routine, especially if you're doing a lot of dog-sitting.

Cons of a Pet-Sitting Business

Some of the challenges you may face if you start a pet-sitting business include:

  • You need more than a love of animals: While no formal training is specifically required, you have to have enough knowledge and experience to handle multiple pets, breeds, and animal temperaments. Some organizations offer certifications you can earn to help market your knowledge and experience. You also need to learn the basics of running your own business.
  • A higher than average level of physical fitness is a must: The last dog on your schedule isn't going to care how many miles you've already put under your feet that day—nor, for that matter, will the pet owner paying you for your services. Especially if this will be a full-time job, you need to be fit to keep up with a lot of animals.
  • You will need insurance and/or bonding to protect yourself from liability: If a pet is injured or gets lost under your watch, an owner could sue you for negligence. As of 2019, Pet Care quotes pet-sitting insurance starting at $129 per year.
  • Flexibility is essential: Clients frequently will need your services on weekends and holidays when they are out of town or have other plans. You also need to have a policy in place for short-term emergencies. Will clients be able to contact you at odd hours if they have their own out-of-town emergency and need to make immediate pet-sitting arrangements?
  • You need to have a policy for handling pet emergencies: Pet emergencies can and do happen, and you should be prepared when they do. Owners will also want assurance that you know how to handle yourself in this area. You should have some basic pet-related first-aid skills and know what to do when things are beyond your medical knowhow.