Pet Sitters and Walkers

We treat our pets as part of the family, we love, pamper and spoil our furry friends and enjoy lavishing our time (not to mention money) on them. 

But these days, many people have busy, demanding work and home lives that – despite our reluctance to be away from our four-legged companions – can sometimes make fulfilling our pet parent responsibilities difficult. 

In an effort to make sure our pets don’t miss out, owners are increasingly seeking out the services of pet sitters and walkers – with some even considering in-home ‘pet cams’ to keep an eye on their cats and dogs. 

Difficult goodbyes

It’s clear that our pets bring us great joy – with 66% of pet parents saying their animal makes them feel happy, and loved (55%). There are even scientific studies showing a pet’s positive impact on mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. So, it’s not surprising that 71% of owners would take their pets everywhere with them if they could. Whilst for most this is unrealistic (pretty sure your boss won’t appreciate your enthusiastic Labrador bounding around the office) it highlights that for some owners – separation is a concern. 

Of course, the return-from-work greetings from waggy-tailed dogs and leg-weaving cats suggest that they miss us too, or are at least happy to see us. But is leaving them alone something that we should avoid doing? Some pet owners are certainly troubled by the prospect, with 60% worrying about their pet being lonely and 59% concerned that their pet is feeling anxious.

How long is too long?

Leaving your pet alone during a normal work day or an afternoon out shouldn’t be cause for concern – though they may react negatively if they aren’t used to it. But leaving them home alone for long periods of time certainly isn’t ideal, and ensuring you can dedicate enough time to them is something to consider before becoming a pet parent. 

Most importantly, pets mustn’t ever be left without water or to go hungry – plus, dogs need to be allowed out regularly and cat’s litter trays cleaned often. 

Going out a little longer than usual? Asking a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your pet or pop round sporadically should suffice. But for weekend trips and holidays – booking them in with a pet sitter, kennel or cattery is recommended. 

Outsourcing pet care

A possible future trend to offer owners peace of mind is the integration of ‘pet cams’, which will allow owners to watch over their pets whilst away from home. Some offer an interactive element with two-way audio or video, and others even dispense treats remotely. 47% of owners say they are interested in this kind of technology, but it’s yet to really take off – with expense and set up proving to be barriers. Even if we do go all techy, nothing truly replaces human contact and care – cameras can’t offer belly rubs, after all. 

If you work long days on the regular (hey, gotta pay the bills), then a cat feeding service (someone to pop round and keep your cat in kibble) could be viable for feline owners. Dogs often require a little more attention, and doggy day care is a good option if there’s no one at home during the day. In recent years, an abundance of canine-loving folk have turned their passion for pups into a business opportunity, caring for animals in their own homes – so finding someone local and reliable shouldn’t be too difficult. You’ll usually be able to drop them off early in the morning before work and they will be cared for and walked, for an agreed rate. A few bonuses are that it will feel more of a personal service than a kennel – as they’ll get to know your dog, it’s also likely to cost less. 

Maybe you’re confident to leave your dog at home during the working day – but don’t want them to miss out on walkies. Well, you can also pay someone to pop round and collect them to take them out for exercise and playtime. If you’re struggling to make sure your dog is walked often enough (as 46% of owners are) then this could be the happy medium to stop them becoming bored and restless, or gaining weight from being idle. 

It’s really important to consider the amount of time a pet needs before taking on the responsibility for them, in addition to the cost. However, with many services available to help provide the love and care your pet needs, careful planning means there’s no need to miss out on having a furry companion.  The question is whether you’ll be able to tear yourself away.

Source: Mintel Pet Owners Report – 2017

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