In certain industries, when to tip is well-known.
You know to tip your hairdresser, your delivery drivers and your waitstaff — but beyond that, it can be unclear just whom to tip and how much is expected.
For example, do you know how much to tip dog walkers? What about tipping pet sitters? Groomers?
This article aims to help clear up tipping protocol in pet-related industries.
I have been a pet sitter and dog walker for the past several years, and I interviewed several experts for this article to get their thoughts, too, on tipping in pet care.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
How Much to Tip a Dog Walker
You pay dog walkers (and pet sitters) to come to your home and take care of your pet.
Dog walkers generally come 1–3 times a day to take your dog for a walk. This may include feeding if the visit is scheduled at meal times, as well as administering medications.
Do you tip dog walkers?
Tipping is not expected. However, if you have a pet who requires special care or handling, you have a dog who is difficult to walk, or you are asking for extra services, you should tip your dog walker.
How much to tip dog walkers?
15–20% is the usual percentage if you want to tip your dog walker in cash. Again, though, it’s not expected.
How Much to Tip a Pet Sitter
Pet sitters are somewhat more involved than dog walkers. Yes, they can fulfill the role of dog walker, but sitters also will come and stay in your home to care for your pet while you are away.
Sitters become solely responsible for your pets’ well-being and handle all exercise, feeding, medication and other requirements your pets need to be happy and healthy. Pet sitters also may perform basic tasks while you are away, such as mail collection and plant watering.
The big question is, are you supposed to tip a dog sitter?
Do you tip your pet sitter?
As with dog walkers, tipping is not expected for pet sitters. However, if you have a pet who requires special care or handling, or if you request extra services, then strongly consider tipping your pet sitter.
How much to tip pet sitters?
15–20% is the usual percentage if you feel the need to tip your pet sitter. Again, though, it’s not expected.
Do you tip Rover dog sitters?
Booking a sitter through this popular app is simple enough, but you may be wondering if tipping Rover dog sitters is necessary.
It’s completely optional. But, according to Rover, “if you’d like to offer them a tip, you’re perfectly welcome to. Just know that it’s never expected or required.”
The app recommends leaving a positive review for them rather than worrying about how much to tip dog sitters: “Reviews are easy to write and help sitters grow their pet-sitting business.”
This can’t be overstated: Well-written, positive online reviews are a huge help to small businesses. Lori Genstein, a pet sitter, told Dogster, “Referrals, testimonials and reviews are the most meaningful and heartfelt. I find them humbling and extremely uplifting … and one can never receive too many.”
How Much to Tip a Veterinarian or Vet Tech
Veterinarians and veterinary technicians and other staff members work in an office environment and handle the medical needs of your pets, from routine vaccinations to emergency services.
They are on hand to answer questions about medications, treat minor and major injuries and illnesses, and perform wellness exams. The true depth of their work cannot be overstated.
- Veterinarians train for many years and are often skilled in multiple techniques when it comes to assessing and treating animals.
- Vet techs are the workhorses of the veterinary profession. If your pet toilets on the floor, they’re on it. If your pet needs a nail trim, they’re on it. If it’s time to let your pet cross the rainbow bridge, chances are it’s a vet tech who’s going to be there to hold your hand (and then cry after you leave).
Do you tip veterinarians or vet techs?
No, there is no need to tip your pet’s veterinarian or other vet staff.
Honestly, they might even think it’s weird or insulting. “Tipping veterinarians is not done,” says Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. “I’d say the same for vet staff. Would you tip your physician or nurse? No. We want to be paid for our expertise in a professional matter.”
Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, a veterinarian with nearly 3 decades of experience, says that in all those years she has never received a cash tip. It’s simply not a thing — “hand on heart,” she swears.
However, Dr. Elliott happily shares that she has received “heartfelt cards expressing how much the care meant to them, their pet and the family. I keep all those cards and have a large cardboard box overflowing with them, filed away in a bookshelf.”
How much to tip vet staff?
Tipping in cash is out. But some grateful pet parents find lovely ways to show their appreciation that don’t involve awkwardly nudging a few dollar bills across the counter.
For example, they bring in a fruit or bakery platter or a gift basket. These types of “tips” are always appreciated by vet staff.
“There’s a recent trend for cards featuring photos of the pet,” says Dr. Elliott. “This is especially touching after the euthanasia of an older pet, when the picture shows the pet in their prime.”
“Other great gifts include cakes — some of which are iced with personal messages or even edible photos of the pet,” she says. “Chocolates and alcohol are also popular.”
You could also consider making a gift donation: “Some people are so appreciative of our care — such as with an involved cancer case, emergency surgery, etc. — that they ask to make a donation,” says Dr. Lichtenberg.
That’s the reason she established a fund in honor of Dino, a Cocker Spaniel patient. The dog’s person made a contribution to the hospital, “and the Dino fund was used to help well-meaning, responsible owners who had fallen on hard times or could not afford life-saving treatment,” Dr. Lichtenberg says.
What about tipping for at-home vet care?
Tipping a mobile veterinarian is optional and unexpected — but not unheard of.
“Vet staff sometimes make house calls, like a visiting nurse. They charge a fee, but sometimes a client will offer them a little extra for going the extra mile. I think this is acceptable,” explains Dr. Lichtenberg.
How Much to Tip a Pet GroomerPet groomers are the unsung heroes of the pet care industry. They often work long hours and are required to wrestle with a wide variety of pets — some of whom would rather be just about anywhere but the grooming table. Groomers also have to walk the line between meeting client requests and keeping foremost in mind what’s best for the pets. For example, many thick-coated dogs shouldn’t be shaved to the skin because it’s bad for them. They also trim nails, clean ears, look for health problems and constantly run the risk of being bitten, scratched or bruised while they try to groom a pet who is anxious or excitable.
Are you supposed to tip dog groomers? Do you tip cat groomers?Yes, you should tip your cat or dog groomer.
Do you tip mobile pet groomers?Yes, you should tip them. Mobile pet groomers offer the convenience of coming right to your house and taking care of your pet in an environment that is familiar to them. This can help a lot when your pet is anxious about visiting a grooming salon.
How much to tip pet groomers?15–20% is fairly standard, especially if your pet is difficult to groom, your groomer goes above and beyond what is expected, or the groomer offers a special convenience.
“As with anything else, tip according to your level of satisfaction and appreciation. If you get horrible service, do not tip,” advises Animal Behavior College.
How Much to Tip a Dog Trainer
Dog trainers perform a specific and vital function: enabling your dog to behave safely and properly regardless of where they are.
Dogs who pull, run or refuse to come back on command run the risk of being hit by a car or injured by a predator. Aggressive dogs may attack other pets or even people and may have to be euthanized.
Proper training cannot be understated because quite literally it can be the difference between life and death for your pet.
Trainers can teach your dog a wide variety of commands, from the usual “come,” “sit" and “stay” to more complicated commands as your dog progresses.
Do you tip dog trainers?
No, not usually. Tipping isn’t expected — but it’s always appreciated.
“I never expect to be tipped,” says dog trainer Caitlin Crittenden, “because they are already paying me for my service directly, unlike people who depend on tips for income, such as waitresses and delivery people.”
Crittenden does occasionally get tips from long-term private clients. These are situations where she has spent “several months coming to their home, not just one class.”
However, she stresses, “In a short-term class setting, nothing extra is expected unless they simply feel that they want to express gratitude and desire to tip or give a small thank-you gift at the end of the class weeks.”
“I am always surprised and grateful,” she adds.
How much to tip dog trainers?
15–20% would be a great cash tip if your trainer goes above and beyond by spending extra time with your pet or if your pet is particularly difficult to train or aggressive.
“Many people simply round up to the nearest $20 mark, so if the dog training session cost $85 per session, many pay $100 instead, for example,” says Crittenden. She adds: “Any amount is appreciated.”
Want to offer something other than money? To show your appreciation, consider giving your dog trainer a heartfelt handwritten thank-you note, a gift card (such as a coffee-shop gift card), a small box of chocolates, some homemade cookies or an inexpensive training item (treat pouch, leash, collar, etc.).
Crittenden likens this to “the types of things people would give a schoolteacher at the end of the year.”
How Much to Tip a Pet Boarder
Pet boarders run the gamut from professional, standalone boarding facilities to people who board animals in their home.
Those who care for boarded animals will take your pet into their care for the length of time that you specify. The boarder may have more than one pet in their care, so the staff will be constantly vigilant to ensure pet safety, security and well-being.
Boarders handle feeding, medications and exercise for your pet while you are away, and you can contact them for updates.
Should you tip for dog boarding?
No, tipping is not expected for boarding a dog or cat. However, if you use someone who boards your pet in their home and they go above and beyond for you, a tip is appropriate and certainly appreciated.
How much to tip pet boarders?
15–20% is a good guideline if you insist on tipping your local boarding facility. Again, though, it’s not expected.
If you want to show appreciation in another way, you could always drop off food, gift cards or gift baskets to say thank you. They’d really like that.
How much should you tip your dog groomer at Christmas? How much do you tip a pet sitter for Christmas? How much should I tip my dog walker for Christmas?
And on and on and on …
These are common questions around the year-end holidays.
During the holidays, people often extend a bonus of some kind to their pet care providers, especially if they don’t tip regularly throughout the year. “Vet offices receive food and plants, etc. at Christmas, all appreciated by doctors and staff alike,” says Dr. Lichtenberg.
If you’re not comfortable leaving money or if you pay the service online, then you can always give a gift or gift card.
This past Christmas I had some wonderful clients give me gift cards to local shops, thoughtful tchotchkes — and even a nice, thick pair of socks. As someone who walks dogs in the middle of the winter, I really appreciated those socks!
Infrequent Reasons to Tip
There are certain occasions where it’s a really good idea to leave a tip:
- Your pet is difficult to handle or aggressive.
- Your pet required medication (that they don’t normally need).
- Your pet care provider transported your pet to the groomer or veterinarian for you.
- Your pet care provider took on a last-minute job for you.
- Or they performed extra services, such as picking up pet supplies or cleaning tasks.
Most people who care for pets professionally are in this business because we truly love animals and enjoy what we do. But it’s nice to get that acknowledgment when we go the extra mile.
Wondering how to make money as a dog sitter? This video provides a fun overview:
- Spector, Nicole. “Dollars and Sense: Why Are Millennials Tipping Less Than Older Generations?” NBC News. June 27, 2018. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/business/dollars-sense-why-are-millennials-tipping-less-older-generations-ncna886966.
- “Tipping Your Dog Sitter.” Rover. Nov. 22, 2014. https://www.rover.com/community/question/241/tipping-your-dog-sitter/.
- “Should I Tip My Sitter?” Rover. https://support.rover.com/hc/en-us/articles/206199686-Should-I-tip-my-sitter-.
- Newell, Wendy. “Which Pet Care Providers Should You Tip? And How Much?” Dogster. July 27, 2016. https://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/which-pet-care-providers-should-you-tip-and-how-much.
- Williams, Shelley. “How Much Do You Tip Dog Groomers?” Animal Behavior College. Feb. 6, 2015. https://www.animalbehaviorcollege.com/blog/grooming/do-you-tip-dog-groomers/.
- Seltzer, Richard, PhD, and Holona LeAnne Ochs, PhD. Gratuity: A Contextual Understanding of Tipping Norms From the Perspective of Tipped Employees. Lexington Books. 2010.