How Long Can You Leave a Pet Alone?

Uncertain about how long your pet can be left alone? While each pet has unique needs, there are some general guidelines for different animals. Here’s some pet-specific advice to get you started!

A Vet with a Cat and a Dog

Dogs

There’s no reliable rule for how long your dog can be left alone. Factors such as health, age, breed, and training all influence a dog’s comfort when alone. Most healthy adult dogs can be left alone for 4-6 hours at a time. Any longer than that, and you’ll want to hire a sitter or dog walker.

Cats

Barring special circumstances, cats can be left alone for around 24 hours. Before leaving them, make sure they have a clean litterbox, plenty of fresh water, and a full belly.

Hamsters

Hamsters should not be left alone for more than 48 hours. With enough food and water, they should be comfortable and safe alone.

Snakes

Snakes are often solitary pets, and do well being left to their own devices for days at a time. That said, the amount of time that you can leave your snake unattended depends on its feeding schedule, the reliability of its terrarium temp/humidity, and its access to fresh water. If you are confident in the sustainability of terrarium conditions, you’ll only need to return home to replenish water or feed your pet.

Birds

Birds should not be left without a check-in for more than 24 hours.

Reptiles

While every reptile is slightly different, most (like bearded dragons and geckos) can be left alone for a day or two, so long as they have a fresh supply of food and water.

Ferrets

Ferrets require a lot of playtime and attention. If a few hours of out-of-cage playing/roaming time are not possible each day, you’ll want to consider hiring a sitter.

Fish

While you’ll want to consider your fish’s specific feeding schedule, almost any fish can be left alone for 2-3 days.

Turtles

Most turtles will be fine without food for a few days, but if you are leaving your turtle for more than two weeks, make sure to arrange for someone to feed them periodically, and monitor the cleanliness of their aquarium’s water.