As young professionals in urban areas spend longer hours at the office, they’re starting to rely more on on-demand platforms to fill-in at home. Already, consumers are using these platforms to carpool, clean their houses, buy their groceries, and even get healthcare. Now they’re using mobile apps to connect with nearby dog walkers who can take their pooches out when they’re stuck at work or away on last-minute business trips.
Pet care is a $62.75 billion industry, and premium services, like full-service pet hotels and in-home dog sitting, represent one of the largest areas for growth. With more than 280 companies now offering on-demand goods and services, it was only a matter of time until the on-demand industry and the pet care industry converged.
Here are six examples of on-demand pet care startups catering to young, busy professionals and the animals they love.
1. Wag!: On-demand dog walking
Wag! is an on-demand service that connects pet owners with walkers. Wag! uses location-based technology to search for walkers near a dog owner’s current location, and allows users to book services immediately or on a scheduled basis. Live GPS tracking gives users the ability to track their dogs as they’re being walked, and activity reports show exactly how far their pets went during their outings. Wag! says its dog walkers have all undergone background checks, phone interviews, and testing before joining the service. Users pay for the service through the mobile app.
2. Urban Leash: Last-minute pet care
For pet owners living in Chicago, Urban Leash is a company that uses mobile technology to help people find dog walkers and cat sitters at a moment’s notice. Anyone who has downloaded the Urban Leash mobile app can request a scheduled or last minute service, and Urban Leash will connect the pet owner with a qualified caretaker located nearby. Urban Leash then uses GPS tracking, along with instant notifications and pictures, to help owners keep track of their pets as they’re being walked or cared for. Optional meet-and-greet sessions give owners a chance to meet their Urban Leash professionals before their first appointments. Urban Leash charges $14 for 15 minutes of dog walking. Payments are made through the mobile app.
3. Rover: Connect with nearby pet care professionals
Rover has expanded beyond dog walking, to give pet owners a way to book dog boarding, house sitting, drop-in visits, and doggy day care, along with basic dog walking services. Users enter their location, dog size, and drop-off dates, and Rover connects them with sitters nearby. Pets, owners, and sitters can get to know each other at pre-appointment meet-and-greets. During a dog walk or dog sitting session, owners receive text and photo updates. Rover covers most vet bills if something happens while an owner is away. The company also offers a reservation guarantee. Rover is available in major cities across the country. An average night of dog sitting costs $24.
4. DogVacay: Local pet boarding
When pet owners have to leave town at the last minute, DogVacay is an app they can use to find a nearby place for their animals to stay. Pets can stay at home, or they stay with a pet sitter in their own neighborhood. Using the mobile app, pet owners can browse nearby sitters and book services online. They can then pay for those services through their mobile phones. DogVacay offers pet insurance and daily photo updates, and it gives owners a way to communicate with sitters through the mobile app. A Concierge team is available for people whose pets need extra attention or VIP accommodations. Sitters set their own rates on the DogVacay platform.
5. Swapaw: Connecting dog owners for free boarding
Swapaw is taking a slightly different approach to on-demand pet care. Rather than connecting pet owners with sitters or walkers, Swapaw connects them with other pet owners who will watch their dogs for free. Once they’ve passed the vetting process and joined the subscription-based platform, members can look for other members to watch their dogs while they’re out of town. In exchange, they’re agreeing to watch other people’s pets for free in the future. Swapaw encourages members to meet in person before any dog sitting session. The company runs identity checks on its members, and has both paid and unpaid membership levels.
6. Swifto: GPS-tracked dog walking
Currently available in New York City, Swifto is an on-demand dog walking service with a heavy focus on tracking. Pet owners who use Swifto to book private walks can track their dogs with a proprietary GPS app, and they’ll receive text notifications at the beginning and end of each session. Owners can also opt to get photos of their pups to see them having fun along the way. Swifto guarantees appointments with at least five hours advanced notice. The company’s dog walkers are all insured, and they are able to feed dogs and provide medication, as well. A 20-minute walk costs $20, with payments being handled completely through the Swifto app.
Know of other on-demand pet care platforms? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.