Pet Sitting 101

By Sarah Davis on April 12, 2017

The day has finally come. Your friend is going on that family vacation she has been going on and on and on about, and you are being left to sit at her home to watch her pets.

Sure, you’d rather be on vacation with her … but getting to spend a week with her pets will be fun. Right?

Yeah, you’ll get a decent wad of extra cash in your pocket — but it is in exchange for a lot of responsibility, which is a fact that should not be undermined or ignored.

What if the cat gets sick? What if the dog escapes? What if the betta fish jumps out of its tank? Being responsible for someone’s ever-beloved furry friends puts a lot of pressure on you to do everything right.

Luckily, you have landed at this article. It’s time for your newest class: Pet Sitting 101. Read on to learn the basics of pet sitting.

Get everyone’s contact info

… And I do mean everyone’s info. The pet owner’s, pet owner’s significant other or best friend, the pet owner’s neighbors, and especially the pet’s veterinarian. Heaven forbid anything goes wrong, you need to be able to get in touch with the right people to resolve it. I have listed this tip first intentionally because you need to make sure you get all of this information first – before the pet owner leaves. Be proactive, not reactive.

Ask the pet owner for a to-do sheet

These kinds of sheets make pet sitting a whole lot easier. Get all of the basics of things that you need to do written down by the pet owner his or herself. This way, you know exactly what you are expected to do, you will not forget anything, and you can check things off as you go along each day.

Where is the pet’s food kept? How much food should they be given? When should they be fed? Is there any medication that they need to take? When should they go out? How often does the pet owner like the litter box to be changed? How many treats is too many treats? What kinds of things does the pet generally like and dislike?

These are just a couple of good questions for the pet owner to answer on this list.

Don’t be afraid to ask the pet owner for a sheet like this if she or he doesn’t offer it — the person should be grateful that you are that interested in taking care of their pet (which further increases the chances of them asking you to watch their pet again in the future – cha-ching!).

Discuss the dollars

You want to be sure that you’re getting your money’s worth. After all, most pet owners want you to stay at their home while they’re gone — and that is kind of asking a lot. According to, the average price for a week of pet sitting can sometimes be $640/week. Wow!

Depending on how many pets you’re sitting and how much each one entails, your price may be lower or higher.

If you’re just feeding their goldfish once a day, you’re probably not going to make that much.

But if you’re watching a husky with eye problems, a cat who refuses to use the litter box, and a gerbil with a stinky cage, you’re probably (hopefully) talking some decent dollars.

It’s important to discuss this beforehand so that everyone’s on the same page.

Make sure you actually know what you are doing

Accept the fact that you should not be pet sitting if you have never owned a pet, are allergic to animals, or — even worse — don’t even like animals. Sure, they are cute and furry, but you are not a trusty pet sitter if you do not know what you are doing (and if you are just doing it for the Snapchat stories).

If you don’t think that you’re going to do a good job, don’t just leave it up to chance (these are basically the pet owner’s children we’re talking about, here!). Find something better-suited for you, such as freelancing, tutoring, or babysitting.

In conclusion, the most important things to do before you start pet sitting are to get all of the contact info that you might possibly need, to get a sheet of what the pet owner expects of you, to discuss how much you are going to get paid, and to make sure that you actually know what you are doing.

Following these basic tips will help you be the best babysitter that you can be. The pet owner who you’re sitting for will have peace of mind while you’re away, and you’ll get to enjoy spending some time with some friendly furry buddies without worrying about doing something wrong. It’s a win-win!

I'm Sarah! I graduated from Florida State University last year (Go Noles! Except for Jameis.). I now live in Raleigh, NC and I’m an editor at a tech startup. I enjoy puns and corny jokes — your dad probably thinks I'm hilarious.

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