Are you missing the family pet now you’re at uni? Why not try pet sitting, and get paid to cuddle some cute, furry creatures?
According to our National Student Money Survey, 76% of students have got a part-time job to survive at uni. The problem is that some student jobs just don’t fit with uni schedules, and employers aren’t always flexible.
Pet sitting allows you to set your own hours and your own pay, meaning you could end up earning £40 or more each day. Oh, and don’t forget the added bonus of being around animals!
Interested? We thought so. Find out all about pet sitting in this guide (and enjoy some pictures of the Save the Student team’s pets)!
What is pet sitting?
Pet sitting is a lot like babysitting – except you’re looking after someone’s pet, and not their child. Makes sense.
Some pet owners prefer to have someone look after their furry bundle of cuteness instead of using a cattery or kennel. This could be for a number of reasons – perhaps paying someone to sit is cheaper, or their pet gets stressed being away from home.
Depending on the job, you could find yourself looking after the animal at either the owner’s house or your own place.
If you’ve only got a few hours spare and can’t commit to several days of care, there are other options. You could become a dog walker, start a doggy day care centre at your house or just keep pets company during the day while their owner is working.
Five pros and cons of pet sitting
- You get to look after animals and get paid for it!
- If you want to work with animals in the future, pet sitting will look brilliant on your CV – especially if you can get references from happy customers
- Pets may need to be fed at a certain time, so you need to get there on time – a great way to encourage time management and organisation
- You can work whenever you want, and choose your hourly pay
- The biggest pro of them all: animals are cute and cuddly!
- Work may be sparse – it depends on where you are, and if anyone else is offering a similar service
- You may be expected to give pets medication, if required (which, in case you didn’t already know, isn’t something they always enjoy)
- Owners may be fussy. Understandable, yes, but does Fido really need to be fed boiled chicken, hand-cut into one inch pieces, and for you to make whale noises just to get him to sleep?
- You may need a car to pick up and drop off animals if you are pet sitting in your own home
- If you use a website to find pet sitting jobs near you, expect them to take a fee for advertising.
Do you need a licence to be a pet sitter?
Technically, no – you don’t have to have a licence to be a pet sitter. That said, if you’re going to be caring for other people’s pets in your own home, you’ll need an animal boarding establishment licence.
While the rules on this licence vary from council to council, you’ll almost always need one if you’re keeping animals in your home overnight, and sometimes for daytime care, too.
The cost of an animal boarding establishment licence also varies depending on the council, ranging from £50 – £200. While that may seem expensive, being caught with a licence can result in a fine of up to £500 or imprisonment for up to 3 months.
In short, it’s definitely worth getting an animal boarding establishment licence, or at least checking if you need one. Check the criteria for your area (including prices) and apply for a licence here.
You may also need a basic DBS check – especially if you will be staying in another person’s house. You can apply for a DBS check here.
Other than that, there are no official qualifications needed to be a pet sitter in the UK – so in theory, anyone can do it. That said, there’s no harm in having some relevant experience or qualifications to help set yourself apart from the crowd.
While we’re not expecting you all to be vet students (although if you are, that’ll stand you in good stead!), make sure your pet sitting profile mentions the experience that you do have. So if you’ve had pets from a young age, learned to ride horses or regularly walk the neighbour’s dog, mention it – it all shows that you’re good with animals!
Do you need insurance to be a pet sitter?
While you technically don’t need to have insurance to be a pet sitter, a lot of owners will appreciate it if you do.
Aside from showing potential customers that you’re a conscientious and responsible pet sitter, it will also protect you if anything goes wrong.
Depending on the package you go for, you could be covered for a range of things. This includes if the animal falls ill or passes away in your care, if the animal damages a third party or their property, and even if you lose the keys to the owner’s house (if you’re given them in the first place).
Packages can start from as little as £5 a month, and given how much you can earn from pet sitting (and the potential cost to you if something bad happens), we’d definitely recommend taking out some cover!
How much can you make from pet sitting?
If you’re wondering how much demand there is for pet sitting where you live, have a look at what other people are charging. Here are some benchmark figures to give you a rough idea:
Remember that these are just ballpark figures, and depending on where you live and what the pets are, you could get more or less than this.
If you go the extra mile, you can potentially charge more and even get yourself some regular business!
You could offer to water the garden or pick up their post, and make a genuine effort to make animals feel at ease in your presence. This could mean giving them treats, or sending the owner regular texts or pictures to keep their mind at ease.
How to get work as a pet sitter
Start off by asking family and friends if they know anyone who needs a pet sitter. Alternatively, you could post on local Facebook pages or Gumtree. Or, if you’re feeling super old school, you could even put up some posters or flyers in the local area.
If you’re after something a little more structured, there are a few websites out there that will introduce you to owners. What’s more, if you work through these companies, there’s a good chance you’ll be covered by their insurance (always check the specifics though, just in case!).
Unlike most other pet sitting websites, Care.com caters for pretty much any type of animal.
Of course, as cats and dogs are the most popular pets, they’ll also be the subject of a good proportion of the listed jobs. But don’t worry if you’re after some variety, as all animals are welcome here!
Tailster, as you might be able to guess from the logo, exclusively deals with dogs – namely, the walking and boarding of them.
Access to the platform is free, and you’ll get to keep 85% of your earnings, with Tailster taking the remaining 15% as a service fee.
Cat in a Flat
Cat in a Flat is solely for cat sitting, and you can offer to cat sit for a few hours or overnight.
You (and the cat) will be fully insured by the website, and you’ll be expected to send the owner a picture of their kitty every day.
As the name suggests, Dog Buddy is for dog owners.
As a dog sitter, you can offer dog walking, home visits and doggy day care.
Don’t want to commit to caring for just one type of animal? Head over to Pawshake, where you could find yourself looking after anything from dogs to mice!
Services you can offer include dog walking, doggy day care and overnight stays.
If you’re not bothered about money but want to do a bit of travelling, Trusted Housesitters matches up global trekkers to homeowners all over the world who need a pet sitter in exchange for free accommodation.
You need to pay an up-front fee of £89 a year to advertise, but depending on where you’re travelling to, you could be making that back in as little as one or two night’s worth of free accommodation!
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and sit some pets!
If you’d rather have a more reliable source of income, why not look into getting one of the best paid student jobs?