What Does a Pet Sitter Do?

Imagine being greeted at work every day by smiling faces and a few friendly licks — yes, licks. Believe it or not, this is no big deal for some professionals — it’s typical of a pet sitter’s life! A true calling, pet sitting allows people who enjoy being around animals to spend every day in their company. If it’s a blessing to love what you do for a living, then pet sitters are truly lucky.

But what does a pet sitter actually do?

Responsibilities of a Pet Sitter

It’s not all romping with puppies and cuddling with kittens. Like any job, pet sitters bear a great deal of responsibility. Customers have expectations, and some can be quite demanding. Pet sitting is a delightful way to earn money if you love animals but, like any job, it requires dedication and a willingness to be responsive to customers’ needs.

Pet sitters work with people who have to be at work early, come home late, and travel frequently. That means being ready to care for an animal on short notice (though whether they’re available at the last minute is ultimately up to the sitter). It isn’t a typical 9-to-5 job. Pet care can keep a sitter busy walking, feeding and playing with animals from 6 in the morning to 8 in the evening five days a week, and it can take time for animals to get comfortable with the arrangement. Fun and play are definitely part of the job, but so is cleaning up unexpected messes and making sure medicines are administered.

Well worth it

Of course, pet sitting is a rewarding, deeply fulfilling vocation for anyone who loves being around animals. It can be stressful — what job isn’t? — but pet sitters can always count on being greeted by a happy face and a wagging tail, and forging emotional bonds that only a true animal lover can fully appreciate. Their four-legged clients are always glad to see them and are a daily source of unconditional love. Good sitters earn the appreciation of people who, without their services, would have to leave their beloved pets alone for hours every day or place them in a lonely kennel or boarding facility.

Peace of mind

Dogs and cats are creatures of habit. Their homes are their domains, and they’re apt to be anxious and skittish when forced out of their environment. Pet sitters provide peace of mind, because owners know their furry friends don’t have to be uprooted — sitters will come to you. Your pet doesn’t have to adjust to new scents and unfamiliar surroundings. A pet sitter keeps food and water in ample supply, and watches for signs of illness and uncharacteristic behavior that may require an emergency visit to the vet. Pet sitters allow pet parents to relax on holiday or business trips, comforted by the knowledge that their furry friends are in good hands.

Special needs  

Some critters — particularly, aging, older pets, and cats and dogs with special needs — require special care, which may mean cleaning up after incontinence issues, applying topical medicines, or administering prescription medications orally or via injection. In most cases, all the owners need to do is provide a full list of medications and times when they should be administered. A pet owner should feel comfortable asking a pet sitter to administer medication or brush their furry friend’s teeth if oral health is an area of concern. Pet sitters can take a pet to the veterinarian if emergency treatment is needed in the owner’s absence, and an experienced sitter may also be able to identify health issues that an owner may miss.

What to ask a pet sitter

Pet sitters should be ready to provide client references and reviews no matter how awesome their online feedback might be. Owners should have the opportunity to review anecdotal feedback from current and/or former clients, an important step in developing trust and establishing a comfort level with a new sitter. Ask if the sitter is bonded and insured, and ask them to list the services they cover under the price they’re charging. If your pet has a health condition, find out if your potential sitter has experience caring for pets with the same or a similar condition — this may be the determining factor in your decision when you hire a pet sitter online or in person.

An experienced and dedicated pet sitter can be the source of many good experiences for pets and pet owners. These pet care professionals establish trusting relationships with clients that can benefit their pets for years. That means a lot to nervous and emotional pet parents who don’t like the idea of leaving their friend with just anyone, making pet sitting a truly one-of-a-kind role.